Core Exercises

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15 core exercises for runners

When most people think about exercises for runners, they immediately think of cardio. However, what many don’t realize is that strength training is just as important for runners. Not only does it help to prevent injuries, but it also makes you a stronger and more efficient runner.

There are many different types of strength-training exercises that runners can do, but one of the most effective ways to train is by focusing on core exercises. The core muscles are the muscles around your trunk and pelvis, which play a crucial role in stabilizing your body when you run.

In this article, we will share 15 of the best core exercises for runners. These exercises will help you build a strong and stable core, which will make you a stronger and more efficient runner.

15 Best core exercises for runners

1. Plank

The plank is one of the most basic but effective core exercises for runners. It works your entire core, including your abs, obliques, and lower back.

To do a plank, start by lying on your stomach on the floor. Then, push yourself up onto your hands and toes so that you are in a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold this position for as long as you can, making sure to keep your back flat, and your abdominal muscles pulled in.

2. Side plank

The side plank is similar to the regular plank, but it targets the muscles on the sides of your body, including your obliques. Although it may seem like a simple exercise, the side plank is actually quite challenging.

To do a side plank, start by lying on your side on the floor. Then, prop yourself up on your elbow and raise your hips so that your body is in a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold this position for as long as you can.

3. Modified bicycle crunch

The modified bicycle crunch is a variation of the traditional crunch that targets your oblique muscles. As a runner, it’s important to have strong oblique muscles because they help you rotate your torso when you run.

To do a modified bicycle crunch, start by lying on your back on the floor with the knees curved and the feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head and lift your shoulders off the ground. Then, bring your right elbow to your left knee as you straighten your right leg. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

4. Bridge

The bridge is another great exercise for runners that works the entire core. It also helps to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings, which are important muscles for running.

Doing a bridge is simple. Start by lying on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Next, raise the hips off the floor so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold this position for a few seconds before lowering your hips back to the starting position.

5. Clam shells

Clam shells are a great exercise for runners because they target the often-neglected muscles on the sides of your hips, known as the hip abductors. Strong hip abductors are important for stabilizing your pelvis and keeping your knees from collapsing inward when you run.

To do clam shells, start by lying on your side on the floor with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle. Then, keeping your feet together, raise your top knee as high as you can without moving your pelvis or lower back. Slowly lower your knee back to the starting position and repeat.

Engaging your abdominals throughout the exercise will help to keep your back from arching. In addition, be sure to keep your movements slow and controlled.

6. Bird dog

The bird dog is a bodyweight exercise that works your entire core, as well as your shoulders and back.

To do the bird dog, start kneeling with your hands just beneath your shoulders and the knees right beneath your hips. Then, raise the right arm directly out ahead of you and the left leg straight out in back of you so that you are in a straight line from your head to your heel. Hold this position for a few seconds, and then return to the starting position. Repeat with your left arm and right leg.

7. Supine leg lift

The supine leg lift is another great exercise for runners who want to work on their core stability. This exercise works your rectus abdominis, which is the large muscle that runs down the center of your stomach.

To do this exercise, lie on your back on the floor with your legs straight. Then, slowly lift one leg up into the air, keeping your core muscles engaged the entire time. Hold this position for a few seconds before lowering your leg back to the starting point.

Continually perform this exercise with your other leg, and continue alternating legs until you have done 10 to 15 times with each leg.

8. Side-steps/shuffle

Side-steps or shuffles are a great way to work your oblique muscles, which are the muscles on the sides of your trunk. Strong obliques are important for runners since they help you maintain good form and prevent your upper body from swaying from side to side.

To do side-steps, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Then, take a large step to the right with your right foot. Follow this by taking a small step to the left with your left foot. Continue alternating sides in this manner until you have gone as far as you can.

9. Lateral leg raises

Your hips and glutes are some of the most important muscles for runners, so it’s important to include exercises that target these areas. Lateral leg raises are a great way to do this.

Doing lateral leg raises is simple. Start by lying on your side on the floor, keeping your legs parallel and stacked on top of each other. Then, raise your upper leg up as you can while not moving the pelvis and lower back. Keep this position for a few seconds before lowering your leg back to the starting position.

Do 10-12 repetitions on each side.

10. Lying leg raise

The lying leg raise is another great exercise for runners who want to work on their core stability. This exercise works your rectus abdominis, which is the muscle that runs down the center of your stomach.

To do this exercise, lie on your back on the floor with your legs straight. Place your hands palm-down on the floor beside you for stability. Then, raise the legs up into the air, holding them close. Then, slowly bring the legs back down to the starting point and repeat.

As with the other exercises on this list, start with a small number of repetitions and gradually increase as you get stronger.

11. Hollow hold

The hollow hold is another great exercise for runners that works the entire core. This isometric core exercise challenges your stability and strengthens your abdominals, obliques, and lower back.

To do a hollow hold, start by lying on your back on the floor with your legs extended and your arms by your sides. Then, lift your head and shoulders off the floor and curl your knees into your chest. From here, extend your legs out straight and reach your arms overhead. Hold this position for as long as you can, making sure to keep your core muscles engaged the entire time.

12. Hip thrusts

Hip thrusts are a great exercise for runners because they target the glutes, which are the largest muscles in the body. Strong glutes are important for runners because they help to stabilize the hips and pelvis, and they also provide power when you run.

To do a hip thrust, lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Place a barbell or weight plate across your hips. Then, thrust your hips up into the air, making sure to keep your back flat on the floor. Hold this position for a moment before lowering back down.

13. Pistol squats

Pistol squats benefit runners because they work your quads, glutes, and core all at the same time. They are also a great balance-training exercise, which can help you become a more efficient runner.

To perform a pistol squat, begin by balancing on a single leg and having your other leg extended forward past your body. From here, bring yourself down into a squat, keeping your extended leg off the ground the entire time. Once you reach the bottom of the squat, press up through your heel to return to the starting position.

14. Hip hikes

Hip hikes are a great exercise for runners because they help to improve your hip mobility. This is important for runners because it can help you avoid injuries, and it also makes you a more efficient runner.

To do a hip hike, start by standing sideways on a step or box. Then, lower your hips so that one side is lower than the other. From here, raise your hips back up to the starting position. Make sure to keep your core engaged throughout the entire movement.

15. Iron cross

Finally, the iron cross is an amazing exercise for runners because it works your entire core. This exercise also helps to improve your shoulder mobility, which is important for runners because it can help you avoid injuries.

To do an iron cross, begin by resting on your back on the floor with your legs extended and your arms by your sides. Then, lift your head and shoulders off the floor and curl your knees into your chest. From here, reach your arms out to the sides and then overhead, keeping your legs straight the entire time. Hold this position for as long as you can before returning to the starting position.

Wrapping up

There you have it! These are 15 of the best core exercises for runners. Remember, strong core muscles are important for runners because they help to stabilize the pelvis and hips, and they also provide power when you run. So make sure to add these exercises to your routine if you want to become a stronger, healthier runner.

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