Five top exercises to help build your core muscles

David Cooper 21/02/2018
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One area of the body that is often overlooked when training is the core. It is crucial in nearly everything you do, from walking with good posture to better athletic performance.

Core training strengthens your hips, lower back and abs and will reduce injury and improve stability. For people who are sitting at a desk all day, it is important to train your core as this can reduce lower back pain.

Most movements start at the centre of the body and work outwards, meaning a strong core can help overall efficiency when going about your day-to-day tasks.

Here, we take a look at four simple exercises to help build a six pack.

FRONT PLANK

Lie flat on your stomach with your arms bent.

Make sure your fingers are pointing forward and your legs are extended.

Slowly lift your torso and legs off the floor.

Hold for one minute.

Repeat three times.

SIDE PLANK

Lie on your side and raise your hips.

Make sure your body is in a straight line.

Hold the position for 60 seconds without letting your hips drop.

Finish and repeat on the opposite side.

Repeat three times.

CRUNCHES

Lie flat on the floor.

Bend your knees and put your hands behind your head.

Lift your head towards your knees until you feel the burn across your stomach.

Repeat 50 times.

LEG RAISE

Lie flat on the floor.

Slowly lift your legs up until you feel the burn.

If you can bring your legs up to a 90 degree angle, then even better.

Pause and lower the legs back down.

Repeat 30 times.

BICYCLE KICKS

Lie flat on the floor with your legs fully extended.

Place arms above the head to stabilise your body.

Lift your knees towards your chest and lift your shoulders off the floor.

Rotate to the left, bringing your right elbow towards your left knee.

Switch sides, bringing the left elbow towards your right knee.

Do not allow the legs to touch the floor.

Repeat 20-30 times.

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Top 10 dos and dont's for runners in the UAE

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Runners compete in the Dubai Marathon in January 2018.

Every runner is different and every run is unique, so here we’ve put together five dos and five don’ts when it comes to getting the best out of yourself as a runner, whether you’re a newbie or experienced.

Here, we kick off with five things you should do…

Dos …

…ALWAYS WARM-UP

It can be pretty tempting to put on your trainers and hit the roads right away. But, failure to warm-up and stretch can lead to injury and ultimately you won’t be able to run.

Seasoned runners will spend between 15-30 minutes working up a sweat and flexing and stretching the key lower leg muscle groups to get everything in working order before running. Although this a good length of time to get you going ahead of your run, if you’re new to running, stick to a solid five-minute warm-up and loosen up your whole body.

Stretch your hamstrings, lunge side to side, pull-up your quads, rotate your hips and lower back and get your arms moving.

…INVEST IN A GOOD PAIR OF RUNNERS

This doesn’t mean you have to buy the biggest brand and most expensive shoe in the store, but make sure you know your size, foot type (a running gait analysis test in-store can help with this) and pick a pair with good stability and cushioning on the outer and inner sole.

…CREATE A TRAINING PROGRAMME

With so many performance-based applications and watches now to record your distances, times and monitor your heart rate, we are often overwhelmed with data. Whatever your end goal or objective, it’s good to use this information as part of a wider programme to enhance your running experience.

By having a schedule, it’s easy to document your weekly KMs, check your progress and see how you can move forward. The myth is that it has to be really in-depth but keep it plain and simple, record some notes on your phone and utilise various apps to help you out.

…MIX IT UP AND JOIN A RUNNING CLUB

Interval training and speedwork compliment long and steady runs very well, as does getting involved running in a group. While, of course, we all need to enjoy our individual runs where we can just zone out and relief some stress, running with others can really help your motivation levels. It’s also a great way to meet new friends and there are plenty of options available in the UAE.

…RECOVER AFTERWARDS

When you stop running, the temptation is to just sit down, slouch and eat right away. But, to stop the onset of muscle soreness and build-up of lactic acid, keep walking for a short period after you finish and stretch out your muscles with some dynamic movements and foam rolling. It only take a few minutes, and coupled with rehydrating, will help keep you fresh and injury-free. Recovery is an aspect of running which shouldn’t be undervalued whatsoever. It’s better to be able to run than be on the sidelines with an injury, right?

TOPSHOT - Runners compete in the Dubai Marathon in the Gulf emirate on January 20, 2017. Middle distance legend Kenenisa Bekele, who was aiming to add the marathon world record to his 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres records, limped out of the Dubai event after a fall. / AFP / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

Whatever your goal, stick to what you know.

DON’TS…

…BUILD UP YOUR VOLUME TOO QUICKLY

It’s a common mistake made by plenty of runners out there who may run long run after long run, and while you might be feeling good, the body is in danger of breaking down when you increase mileage too quickly. It’s better to start off slow, introduce a training programme with weekly targets you want to run and gradually start stepping on the gas more week-by-week, with frequent rest days in-between and even a week off of running.

…JUST RUN

Running, particularly on hard surfaces, can takes its toll on your body so it’s vital you complete strength and conditioning work, with a mixture of upper and lower-body exercises on alternate days to your running. This will help to maintain your running form and ability to run bigger and better. Short, high-intensity workouts featuring exercises such as planks, pull-ups, weighted lunges, squats, mountain climbers and high and low kicks should form part of your training.

…EAT HEAVILY BEFORE RUNNING

An obvious one, but leave it at least two hours after food before you run. Eat light and keep hydrated with water and glycogen drinks, especially in hot and humid UAE conditions.

…FOCUS ON OTHERS

It’s great to get inspired by fellow runners and friends, but do what feels comfortable and good for you when it comes to training and performance in events. We are all different, work to varying training thresholds and some of our bodies can naturally take more pain and strain than others. Try and establish what is good for you rather than try and copy-cat what works for others.

…IGNORE YOUR BODY

If you feel tired and aren’t in the mood to run then take that as a sign from your body that it requires some rest. The more and more you exercise you’ll get a feel for how your energy levels are and how you feel physically. Running on tired legs and a tired mind can actually do more damage than good.

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Dubai Marina and Palm Jumeirah Boardwalk among 10 of the best places to run in Dubai

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Runners take on Al Sufouh Road during the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.

The winter season is short in Dubai so it’s best to make the most of the good running weather while we have it …

With the temperatures not set to rise significantly until at least April, we’ve picked out 10 running routes in the city, applicable to all running abilities and distances.

All of the following locations are open 24-7 and free-to-use:

JUMEIRAH BEACH

One of the most scenic places to run in the city and the beauty of it is you can actually follow a designated, soft-surface running track with markings.

Starting at Umm Suqeim Beach (Sunset Beach) under the gaze of the iconic Burj Al Arab, the 7km stretch takes you past Kite Beach and all the way down to Jumeirah 1. If you then turn around and go back, you’ll clock up 14km.

It’s never overly busy and it’s easy to stop for a drink or stretch mid-run too. In addition, it has a really fun vibe at the weekend.

DUBAI WATER CANAL

One of the newest running routes around when it was completed in late 2016, take in 6.4km of the waterfront and mix it up with as many as five pedestrian bridges.

A stunning view of the Downtown skyline will accompany you and it is also easy to link-up with the Jumeirah beaches via Al Maktoum Bridge. The best access to the canal is from Business Bay and Al Habtoor City if you’re coming from Sheikh Zayed Road.

AL BARSHA POND PARK

A short and sharp 1.4km running track that surrounds the pond and is marked every 100m. Perfect for speed work or interval training rather than the long run. Busier in the evenings with plenty of people working out.

PALM JUMEIRAH

Without doubt one of Dubai’s best known places, the soft (and knee-friendly) Palm Jumeirah boardwalk is a fantastic place to run and is typically quiet too.

Starting off opposite the Atlantis, The Palm, running to either the end of the East or West Crescent and back is roughly 10km, and if you do both, you would comfortably clock up a half-marathon distance (21.1km). A perfect run to zone out, have a bit of time to yourself and soak up the sea views.

Congrats to everyone for your incredible #BerlinMarathon achievements today 👏👏👏, many people I know from home 🇬🇧 and Dubai-based runners ran and were simply magnificent. Big up to everyone even if I don’t know all of you Dubai runners individually 🙂🇦🇪 who competed in that great city. It gave me goosebumps seeing and reading about your inspiring stories. • It got me thinking…Three weeks today I’ll be running my fourth international marathon of the year at #AmsterdamMarathon 🏃🏻with my running brother @calumdrummond89 – feeling blessed to have this opportunity. • Focus is always on preparing as best as I can and being grateful for the chance to run. Never take it for granted. • Tonight – the run that clears my head the most is the full Palm Jumeirah Crescent from East to West 👍. A chance to reflect and think 🙏. • #UnderArmour #marathon #marathons #marathonrunner #runner #marathontraining #workout #runningman #instafitness #WhyIRunDubai #run #runner #runforlife #nevergivein #motivation #fitnessindxb #dxbfitness #coreworkout #corestrength #fitnessaddict #mydubai #workoutmotivation #instafit #workouttime #instarunners #workouttime #fitnessmotivation #fitnesslifestyle

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AL ITTIHAD PARK

Sticking with the Palm, the park area next to the Golden Mile Galleria has a lovely 2.7km track loop interspersed with workout stations and is a good way to work up an evening sweat if you’re short on time.

DUBAI MARINA

The 9km loop is perhaps the location to run in Dubai (particularly if you live in the populous Jumeirah Lake Towers or JBR) and has fantastic views to match.

The Marina boasts a completely flat surface with a few short inclines (steps) as you cross two bridges on the full route, with one of them being close to the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai and then the other next to the unmissable Cayan Tower.

There are also four other bridges linked up with the Marina which means it is possible to run short distances, or repeats, giving flexibility to tweak your volume.

In the early morning and daytime, the venue is pretty much empty but is a lot busier in the evening with running groups meeting at Dubai Marina Mall often.

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ZABEEL PARK

A great option if you fancy a change of scenery but the best thing is it’s easy to get to with its picture perfect location next to Dubai Water Canal and overlooking the city’s biggest skyscrapers. Plenty of green space to run and then chill afterwards with friends.

DUBAI CREEK PARK

Another brilliant spot to take in some of Dubai’s richest and oldest culture – and away from some of the bright lights of the city that can sometimes get a bit all too much. The park itself commands just a Dh1 entry free, and from there, you can actually make your way out and to the Creek itself, taking in the old Souq and plenty more.

AL SUFOUH ROAD

Part of the annual usual Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon route, a run from the One & Only Royal Mirage Dubai to the Madinat Jumeriah and back is 10km. While there isn’t a designated track to follow as such, it’s best to run on the pavement on Dubai College side as a) the pavement is wider and more stable with signs for cyclists; b) there are less small road openings to cross and c) it is easier to watch oncoming traffic and stay alert, with the roads being busy if events are on at various hotels and tourist places close by.

JLT PARK

A popular spot for an outdoor session in the evenings, JLT has a spongy blue running track and free-to-use upper-body and core workout machines. The green bowl and attached parks are also good for a kick around or a few overs of cricket!

JLT Park

GREENS/EMIRATES HILL

This is a kind 10km loop, starting at the Greens and running back around until you’re finished at Emirates Hill. On the route you’ll take in Jebel Ali Racecourse and part of First Al Khail Street (behind JLT) on your way to knocking off the top distance.

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