3 Simple Core Exercises Every Runner Should Be Doing

Most runners neglect core strength.

I don’t think this is on purpose, but instead, because the benefits just aren’t as obvious.

It’s easy to understand why you should train your leg strength, your foot speed, or your endurance, but why should you train your core?

This short video from Active clarifies what your core actually consists of, explains why you should be training it, and demonstrates three simple core exercises that all runners should be doing.

More Than Just Abs

The core consists of much more than just your abdominal muscles.

It actually consists of two halves: the torso and the trunk.

The abdominal muscles make up the front of your torso. Your abs are responsible for supporting your back during day-to-day activities. They are also a key muscle group for maintaining your posture.

The obliques make up the sides of your torso. They are responsible for twisting and bending motions. For runners, they help stabilize and keep you running forward as your swing your arms.

The lower back and outer middle back muscles make up the back of the torso. Your back muscles complement your abs during day-to-day activities. They, too, are a key muscle group for maintaining your posture.

The muscles in your trunk work hard to support your torso. Without this solid foundation, it would be difficult for the muscles in your torso to perform their functions.

Your hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and inner and outer thighs are all muscles that make up the trunk.

Posture For Performance

A key component of good running form is proper posture, and a key component of proper posture is a strong core.

The New York Road Runners explain that:

“Running [with good posture] will increase lung capacity, leading to increased endurance and a more powerful running stride. It will also help athletes properly position their center of gravity and maintain proper alignment, which will prevent injuries and allow for efficient running.”

As fatigue starts to set in, you tend to start slouching. This compresses the diaphragm, which reduces efficiency and has a negative impact on overall performance.

This is where core training comes into play.

If you train to get a stronger core, you will be able to maintain proper posture for longer throughout the race. And by maintaining proper posture, you will maintain lung capacity and proper alignment, which leads to greater efficiency and better times.

Easy As 1, 2, 3

Training your core is much easier than you might think.

Just perform these three core exercises after your easy running days, and you’ll be well on your way to a stronger core.

Plank

  • Lay on the ground as if doing pushup on your forearms
  • When you are ready, lift up onto your toes
  • Engage your core and keep your back straight
  • Hold this position for up to one minute
  • Rest and relax, and then repeat several times
  • Avoid forming a U shape or an upsidedown V shape with your body
  • Avoid arching or folding your back too much

Side Plank

  • Turn to your side, and rest on your elbow and toes
  • When you are ready, lift up onto your toes and elbow
  • Engage your core and keep your body straight
  • Hold this position for up to one minute on each elbow
  • Rest and relax, and then repeat several times
  • Don't let your core sag
  • Make sure your gaze is straight ahead, instead of towards the ground

Leg Lift

  • ​Lay flat on your back with your head down
  • Rest your arms to your side
  • Engage your abdominal muscles to raise your legs
  • Hold this position for 20-30 seconds
  • Rest and relax, and then repeat several times
  • This exercise causes less strain on the neck and arms compared to regular situps

Final Thoughts

As runners, we are always trying to find ways to improve our results.

Then next time you go out for a run, pay close attention to your posture as you begin to fatigue. If you catch yourself slouching, the short-term solution is to take a deep breath and restore your posture. The long-term solution is to train your core.

These three simple core exercises for runners (practiced regularly) are guaranteed to increase your core strength and help you maintain proper posture for longer.

Out of all the crazy ways runners try to gain an edge, training your core just might be one of the easiest ways you can improve your overall performance.