Les Mills – Core Training New Research

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New research published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness shows three-dimensional core exercises can improve running symmetry and help achieve quicker 5km run times by an average of 66 seconds.

The six-week study revealed:

  • Participants’ running speed increased
  • Running economy improved (a measure of how efficient you are as a runner).
  • They decreased their five kilometre run times by an average of 66 seconds without a significant difference in mean heart rate
  • They increased their ability to hold a plank by over 60%
  • Ankle range-of-motion asymmetry decreased by 46% while running on a level surface

Jinger Gottschall, Associate Professor, performed the Les Mills Running & Core Training Study at Penn State University and says her findings demonstrate that runners can improve their performance by focusing on integrated core exercises that target primary muscle groups from hip to shoulder.

Running is a three-dimensional activity.

While your legs are moving forward in one plane, the movement of your arms and torso moving in another plane is also important for force production and running economy.

The research asked runners to complete Les Mills CXWORX™, a three-dimensional 30-minute programme to test its effectiveness.

“This research establishes the critical three-dimensional core component of running training,” says Gottschall, herself a long-time running enthusiast. “Endurance athletes typically live by the slogan ‘more is better’ and simply run more miles. Our research demonstrates that integrated core training – so often a missing component – can improve performance and symmetry.”

Reducing range-of-motion asymmetry

The greatest improvement in symmetry was at the ankle, with significant differences not only during level running but also during uphill angles. More specifically, ankle range-of-motion asymmetry decreased by 46% while running on a level treadmill (no incline), by 36% running at a 3% incline, and by 33% running at a 6% incline.

“The results of this study demonstrate that an integrated combination of exercises could be extremely beneficial in terms of improving joint symmetry for injury reduction, deep hip muscle training for knee alignment, and abdominal training for efficient force transmission,” Gottschall says.

“Unlike previous studies that have used an isolated strengthening approach to help improve running performance, this study predominantly included a series of three-dimensional integrated exercises. The faster running speeds and increased economy were likely due to the unique sequence of integrated exercises in CXWORX™.”

Since conducting this study Gottschall has developed five different running guides catering for beginners through to experienced runners.




Les Mills International is the creator of 20 global group fitness programs, including BODYPUMP™ (weights), BODYCOMBAT™ (martial arts), RPM™ (indoor cycling), LES MILLS GRIT™ (30-minute high-intensity interval training) and the revolutionary immersive cycle experience, THE TRIP™. LES MILLS workouts are delivered by 140,000 certified instructors in 20,000 clubs across 100 countries and are available for at-home exercisers via the LES MILLS™ On Demand streaming platform. Every week, millions of people get fit with Les Mills.

About Les Mills Research

Significant investment in ongoing research is an important part of the Les Mills fitness philosophy. The research assures club partners and their members that LES MILLS group fitness programs are effective and safe. Les Mills partners with universities around the world to investigate relevant areas of exercise science and test the effects of its programs on key community health factors such as obesity and heart disease. Les Mills research is independent, peer-reviewed and industry-recognized.

For more information, visit lesmills.com/research

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