In an attempt to slim down my midsection and tone up my abdominal muscles, over the last two months I’ve been gradually incorporating more and more basic core strengthening exercises into my daily workouts. The problem I’m having, is that because of my obstructive lung disease, it takes me forever to exhale at the beginning of each exercise maneuver.

How long does it take YOU to exhale a single breath? A few seconds maybe?
Well, on one of my typical breathing days, it can take me up to a half a minute !

Seriously… it takes me 15 to 30 FULL seconds to expel enough air, to allow for the proper core muscle contraction to take place. Even if I force the air out with a cough, it’s still takes upwards of 10 seconds to get most of the air out, and by the time I do get it all out and tighten the appropriate muscles , I’m too short of breath to maintain the proper breathing pattern for the recommended contraction interval.

Is there an alternate , but equally effective way of doing these types of abdominal strengthening exercises? I have no problem doing several reps of slow sit ups as long as each sit up only requires a single muscle contraction with a single exhaled breath.
Core strengthening exercises
A friend of mine recommended that I do less sit-ups and concentrate more on plank exercises, as they strengthen larger muscle groups . Apparently, a single plank exercise , if done correctly, will benefit you more than multiple sit ups. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I’ll give it a try.

Anyone else have any suggestions?

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6 thoughts on “Core strengthening…harder than it looks.

  1. Racewalker55 says:

    Your friend who suggeted the plank exercises is right on — they are amazing — side and front — try doing it legs together, legs wide apart, raising one arm, one leg, and then one arm and one leg — all of these variations will hit a different part of the core — they are particularly good for the core muscles needed when race walking…reverse crunches(ie-bringing the legs up rather than the shoulders) are great too — bring your shoulders to your chest and then extend you legs straight out, back to the chest and then back to your starting position

  2. Annette says:

    Planks are good! And tough! Do what is most comfortable for your breathing. As long as you’re working those muscles, they’ll get stronger. Good luck!

  3. runliarun says:

    I think plank exercises are cool. In spring I ran for about three months with a backache, no fun at all, and plank exercises helped tremendously to leave that ugly period behind.

  4. Fran says:

    Planks are good. I’ve gottena couple from the Runnersworld website. It’s important to strengthen both the front and the back which I see you’re doing in the picture.

  5. Bob Gentile says:

    Hey Steve, Ya core sucks but it does help big time, to keep ur form strong at the end of a race….so CORE Up!!!

  6. Ann in England says:

    I was guided to your website by John Kirtley, in the UK. I have an FEV1 of 25% and for core strength I find doing knee raises at the gym on a piece of apparatus called The Captain’s Chair works best for me. I can’t lie down and exercise my abs as I can’t breathe and I feel nauseated. On my first attempt, I could only do half a knee raise 🙂 2 weeks later I could do 2 sets of ten. The maxiumum I have done in one gym session was 100 in sets of 10 repeats.

    Ann in the South East of England

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