When most athletes think about core-strengthening exercises, sit-ups, crunches and other traditional abdominal moves come to mind. But, this way of thinking is completely outdated and old fashioned.
For sports like running, cycling and triathlon, core training should focus on building endurance. It's not about how much weight you can lift; it's about how long you can hold the exercise to stabilize your posture.
Core endurance is the ability to maintain a low level of support the entire time you exercise to stabilize the spine. Research has proven that reduced core endurance is a predictor for future risk of low back trouble, and that muscular endurance is of greater importance than strength.
The following core endurance program, adapted from Back in Action, is designed to safely build an anatomical corset—a low-back brace—with your own muscles. These exercises can be executed without special equipment or weights; you can perform them easily on your own at home or at the gym.
All exercises should be performed with a neutral spine—keep your posture in its natural position. Your breathing pattern is also important. Don't hold your breath. Lastly, It is important to perform the core endurance exercises in the exact sequence outlined here. For more exercises and advice on protecting the spine and preventing back pain, check out Back in Action.