With the unfortunate diagnosis of a stress fracture to the second metatarsus in 2012, World Cup Nordic Champion Kikkan Randall spent much of the summer in a cast and was limited in her workout choices even as the first races of the 2013 race season approached.
“I’ve been trying to look at this as an opportunity to focus on one of my weaknesses: core strength. Sometimes injury can be a blessing in disguise,” Randall said.
Randall used the injury to refocus her training regimen. Her tips can help any athlete, injured or healthy. Try these seven techniques to power up your core muscles.
Randall uses this fun balance and core-training tool during her preseason workouts.“I have a stand set up in my house. I work standing on there, in a skate movement, moving forward and backwards,” Randall said. “In the early season the snow is often bumpy and this really helps my stability.”
This versatile resistance trainer that has been around since 1962 can be used for several different core exercises. It’s a rope that goes through a cylinder in a figure eight to create variable resistance for many different exercises that work the upper body and core.
“It’s making a comeback. This thing is really good,” Randall said. “I make it a normal part of routine.”
The Dyna Disc is an inflatable rubber pillow often seen at physical therapy clinics. They create an unstable surface to accentuate squats, one-legged squats and even upper body lifts like curls and military press.
“Doing little things like that on the unstable surface can be so challenging,” Randall said.
Hanging leg raises
If you crank out sit-ups like nothing, try working your lower core with hanging leg raises by hanging from a pull-up bar an lifting your legs in front of you until horizontal with the ground. Randall started with three sets of 10. Once that got easy, she did three sets of 15. Still too easy? Try adding a six pound weight to your ankles for sets of 10 and feel the burn.
This classic exercise can build both endurance and explosive power. Try sets of 10 or 15 one or two days a week for endurance. Blast up the power one day a week by strapping on a weight belt for sets of three or four reps. Randall uses 40 pounds on the belt and weighs just 135 pounds.
“It’s not the most thrilling exercise in the world,” Randall admits. “But if you do pool running, you can get your fitness pretty high.” Randall uses flotation, bungeed against the current in a current pool. You can get a similar effect running in deep water with flotation at your local pool.
Mix it up
As with any workout, change up your routine every three to four weeks. “Get proficient and then switch it up with something new,” Randall said.