A Strong Core for Better Performance

Posted 05/16/2013

Hi everyone, I’m happy to be a RecoFit athlete and share with you some of my knowledge, experiences and training techniques from the past 30 years that have contributed to my 125+ career victories in Duathlons, Triathlons, Bike Races and Running Races and hopefully help you to achieve your athletic and/or fitness goals. Let’s get started.

First off, I’m going to have you test your core strength so you will know not only how strong your fundamental core muscles are, but also how much work you may or may not have ahead of you to get them strong.

Do you know what muscles are considered part of the core? Most people know the abdominals are a part of the core, but did you know the core consists of all the muscles the entire length of your torso, both the back and the front, including obliques, erector spinae Patty posting fastest female bike split and 2nd fastest overall at Camarillo Sprint Du 4 14 13and even those of the pelvic floor? Your core plays a significant role in stabilizing and supporting your spine and spinal column, which helps postural alignment and helps keep lower back pain at bay. A strong core also creates a solid foundation of support for all the movements you do in your everyday activities and sports. Strong core muscles enable you to generate powerful movements involving your extremities, like swimming, running and cycling. Another benefit for developing your core muscles is to have better balance, which contributes to improved performance.

The following core test was designed by Brian Mackenzi, a senior athletics coach with UK Athletics, the United Kingdom’s National Governing body for Track and Field. The objective of this test is to monitor the development and improvements of an athlete’s core strength and endurance periodically over time.

To begin, you only need a watch with a second hand, a flat surface and to be dressed in comfortable workout clothes. If you are on a wood floor, I’d recommend a mat.

[Below: Patty Peoples in the traditional plank position]

Patty in Traditional Plank position

Talking the Test: First, place your watch or clock where you can easily read it.

  1. Start in the traditional Plank Position (see photo). Hold pose for 60 seconds (keep your back flat, you are a plank, not a pyramid). At all times, throughout this test, you MUST keep your back flat! Once you raise your “butt” in the air or collapse to the floor, your test is over.
  2. Now lift your right arm off the ground – Hold for 15 seconds 
  3. Return your right arm to the ground and lift the left arm off the ground – Hold for 15 seconds 
  4. Return your left arm to the ground and lift the right leg off the ground – Hold for 15 seconds 
  5. Return your right leg to the ground and lift the left leg off the ground – Hold for 15 seconds 
  6. Lift both your left leg and right arm off the ground – Hold for 15 seconds 
  7. Return both your left leg and right arm to the ground 
  8. Lift both your right leg and left arm off the ground – Hold for 15 seconds 
  9. Return to your original traditional Plank Position – Hold this position for 30 seconds 

If you can complete the entire test in good form, then you have a strong core. Keep doing whatever exercise program you are doing. If you can only complete part of the test, then you have some work to do in order to strengthen your core. Make a note of where you had to stop and then vow to work on developing your core muscles with a variety of exercises.
Practice this test once or twice a week, noting your improvements and your weaknesses. Eventually, by implementing core exercises in your workout program on a regular basis, you will be able to complete the test and thus, by having a strong core, your performances will also improve.

About the Blogger

Patty finishing as the 1st Women Overall at Camarillo Sprint Duathlon 4 14 13Patty Peoples is a National Duathlon Champion, fitness educator, and a huge RecoFit fan. Patty is living proof that if you are forever fit, you are forever young. Just take a look at some of her achievements:

2012 USAT Female Overall Sprint Duathlon National Champion
USAT AG National Duathlon Champion in all distances (Sprint/2012, Olympic/2011, Long Course/2013)
2011 ITU AG Duathlon World Champion – fastest female bike split
4-time USAT All-American Duathlete
4-time USAT #1 AG Duathlete
125+ Career Victories including several course records and fastest female bike splits
Member of Inaugural Women’s Tour de France Championship USA Team, 1984
East Coast Triathlon Champion, 1983
Fitness Coach/Educator Chaffey College since 1992
Fitness Columnist
USAT Level 1 Coach
ISSA Fitness Nutrition Specialist/Trainer