Core Conditioning with Mississippi T&F

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A flat stomach and a toned lower back look great on Spring Break, but they're also highly beneficial for track and field athletes. According to Mississippi State T&F strength and conditioning coach Michael Shumaker, possessing a strong core is essential to running a solid race. "If you have weak abs or a weak lower back, then you're going to have weak posture—and posture plays a crucial role in running form," Shumaker says. To help you strengthen your core properly, check out Shumaker's dos and don'ts. The Bulldogs, whose men's 4x400 relay team finished fourth at the 2007 NCAA Championships, kept these in mind when doing their crunches and back hypers.

• Abs/lower back workouts to prevent fatigue on the track
• Work your abs/lower back every day
• Ab exercises at the end of a workout
• Crunches: 3 sets of 20-25 reps
• Back Hypers: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
• Hold light weight [10 to 25 lbs.] for a challenge, but decrease reps

• Place weight directly on your back; it adds too much stress and pressure
• Skip sets or reps
• Expect ab exercises to burn fat off your stomach [that usually results from running]
• Perform additional sets with the expectation of seeing quicker results
• Ignore proper technique

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