Top 5 Core Strength Exercises For Sprinting
Understanding core-based training for sprinting is important. Trunk and core training for sprinting relates to dynamic trunk control. One of the most important things about utilizing these exercises is understanding where these specific exercises will impact sprinting speed. Sprinters have to be concerned with the start, the drive/acceleration phase, and then maximal mechanics.
4. Single-Leg RDL With Band Held To Overhead Hip-Lock
This movement is pretty complicated. Begin by having a band attached to a solid post behind the body. Each hand needs to have a grip on the band. This grip on the band will have the band stretched to be slightly in front of the body. The arms should not be extended, but have the band taught just removed from the armpits.
From there the athlete will perform a single-leg RDL, bending at the hip and keeping pressure on the band. The athlete will then come through rapidly and extend the arms overhead. The band needs to be held overhead as the come-through leg moves into a hip lock position. We want to see the hip lock isometrically hold for a bit, showcasing good hip flexion, knee flexion, and dorsiflexion with the ankle as the band is held overhead. Additionally, the athlete needs to demonstrate dynamic trunk control throughout the gut. Rinse and repeat the movement on the same side then perform it on the opposite side.
This will transfer over to sprinting incredibly well. Think about being at top-end speed. This movement will help front-side mechanics when at maximal speed. Athletes need to understand when performing the single-leg RDL with band held to overhead hip-lock that the foot being directly below the body transfers to the ability to hold a strong upright posture during ground reaction forces. This will carry over to maintaining speed over a long period of time and slowing down the slowest.
3. Barbell Bicycle Crunches
This is an exercise that carries over really well in sprinting through the drive phase into the transition into maximal mechanics. Athletes need to focus on a little bit of trunk flexion and a rapid hip flexion where they get up on their butt. A lot of sprinters when they perform this movement early on tend to stay on their lumbar spine, their lower back. They need to try to get up more on the glutes to really light up the gut. This will teach the trunk how to coordinate with the hips.
The trunk coordinating with the hips is a key component when talking about top-end speed. Training the abs to fire in coordination with the hips creates a healthier athlete who can control the trunk at faster rates of motion.
To perform the movement, hold the barbell almost directly over the face in a hollow body position. From there, come up and alternate driving the knees up to meet the chest. A good cue is to prevent the shoulder blades from touching the ground. Make sure to keep the barbell directly over the face, almost right over the chin. This movement can be done once or twice a week at the end of a session, maybe after a heavy leg day to help teach the body how to better coordinate the trunk with the hips.
2. Dumbbell Side Bend Into Kamara Lunges
At Garage Strength, we like to have athletes do super-sets and pre-fatigue certain areas. For instance, we will have athletes perform side bends with a light load to pre-fatigue the athlete. The athlete should feel it through their obliques and a little through the glute-mead as they push through their heel. Do it to each side and then rest for thirty seconds.
Kamara lunges can be done with dumbbells held at the side. However, we do this with a bamboo bar with bands holding kettlebells dangling from the edges of the bar. The athlete will immediately feel shaky taking the bar with the dangling kettlebells away from the rack. The sprinter will then take a nice step and hold a quarter lunge. They will alternate legs. The athlete needs to squeeze in the trunk. Remember, it is core training so the athlete doesn’t need to get super deep in the lunge. The goal is to get to the point where the oscillations are felt to be pulling all over the place so the pre-fatigue from the side bends are really felt. It doesn’t need to be crazy heavy.
Another keynote to remember is that when stepping into the Kamara lunge, make a fast drop into the isometric hold. Three to four sets of the two movements combined is plenty. The combination of the movements, especially the pre-fatigue, will greatly enhance dynamic trunk control at top-end speed.
1. Dane’s Fast Abs
This movement is all about force absorption. A lot of athletes lose energy in movement because they don’t know how to absorb force in their trunks.
To perform this movement, use a slight decline bench with a place for the feet to lock into for holding. The athlete will create slight hip flexion leaning back. The back does not touch the bench. Don’t go all the way down, instead create a level plane. The trunk will then be trained from three different angles. This will train the trunk and body on how to absorb force from various angles.
Having a plate in the hands, the athlete will extend the plate. The focus needs to be on quickly pulling the plate down as rapidly as possible, squeezing throughout the trunk to hold the position. This is where holding hollow positions will pay off. Then the movement is performed from side angles, getting into rotational work. What ends up happening training from the side angles is that the trunk learns not only how to absorb force but control force.
Sprinters at top-end speed or driving through the drive phase, accelerating very rapidly, don’t want to be losing energy all over the place. By training the body and the trunk to fire effectively and control that energy, athletes will stay in a linear path and will run faster.
Do this movement once a week for four sets of seven reps forward and on each side.
Utilize these exercises to improve front side mechanics, improve the drive phase, and improve maximal mechanics so that a more upright posture can be held at top-end speed. As an athlete, make sure to communicate with the coach about the feelings the movements create in the body to better transfer over to the track. Dynamic control is a must. These movements will not only help the body coordinate muscle groups but lead to technical improvements in sprint mechanics to allow the body to run faster.
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.