Workout of the Week: Core and Cardio

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Naval sailors prepare for sprint.
Navy Counselor 1st Classes Edward “Tyrone” Lee (left) and Cameron Johnson line up head to head for a 100-meter sprint at one of their daughters’ elementary school tracks in Houston. (Chief Petty Officer Joshua Keim/Navy Talent Acquisition Group Houston)

Some people prefer to stay in the weight room to work out, while others prefer cardio events like running, biking or swimming in the great outdoors. Both approaches are great ways to get exercise, but you may be bored with "just going for a run."

Here is a fun compromise where you can focus on oft-neglected training exercises that work the full core (lower back, abdominal, obliques, hips and upper back). Core work is not just working on your abs.

If you are dreading doing your cardio day or only doing cardio and nothing else, add in this circuit for 10 minutes before and after your cardio event of the day. You also could use this "warmup" before weight-room workouts.

Core/cardio

Dynamic movements prior to exercise have become the gold standard of the warmup over the years. Major joint movements will help reduce stiffness before a run or heavy lifting workout. Dynamic stretching works by flexing one group of muscles to stretch the opposite group.

Exercises like butt kickersFrankenstein walksleg swings or bounding flex and stretch the front and back side of the leg while working movements in the knee, hip and ankle joints.

Learning several of these movements will be beneficial to how you feel during your cardio event, especially running. Check out this excellent dynamic warmup routine.

Core work

Or you also can add in sit-ups if you still are being tested in that exercise.

For more challenging hip and core exercises:

Follow with a light leg stretch and do your thing. The added core focus will make a difference with your cardio workout days, especially if these are something you typically neglect.

Cardio and other workout ideas

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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