6 Core Exercises for RUNNERS

TUE MAR 8, 2016

The importance of developing a strong core for running cannot be underemphasized. A strong core helps us maintain proper form, prevent injury, and (added bonus) look great in a swimsuit! Devoting time to strengthening this area of the body should be incorporated into every runner’s program, and with so many exercises out there designed to target the abdominal muscles, it can be tough to determine which ones are best for running. Fortunately our super-fit coaches were happy to share some expert advice on starting a new routine or updating an existing one.

Andia W

Track & Fields (aka Single Leg Bent Knee Tucks)

While seated, fully extend one leg and ground foot then bend the opposite leg in towards chest. This is the starting position. Next, switch orientation of legs. Every time there is a switch from bend to extend, the upper body/back will move towards but not touch the ground and return to the start position once the new knee is bent. To add difficulty, add arms. Opposite arm, opposite leg — like running. Next, add speed!

Can a core exercise help you speed up on the track? You better believe it! Not only does this move work your midsection but it will get your heart pumping too as you speed up arm and leg action. You’ll develop coordination skills to boot!


Prone Crunch

Lay on stomach, with tops of feet grounded and arms extended towards sides palms up. While keeping lower body as quiet as possible, squeeze glutes and elevate chest off of the floor as high as possible.

Though there are variations on this move, i.e. Airplanes or Super Heros, I like the simplified prone crunch because it forces folks to understand how the activation of their center of mass affects motion. Also, when thinking about core, many folks neglect the lower back — it needs love too!

Hollis L

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Russian Twist

Begin seated on your butt with your torso at a 45-degree angle and your feet levitated off the floor (beginners should start with one or both feet on the floor for stability). Rotate from side to side, leading with your eyes and shoulders. Add weight as you develop strength.

Russian Twists strengthen the rectus abdominis, internal obliques, and external obliques. An added plus: they also strengthen your lower back due to the position of your torso during the exercise.

Scott C

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Plank Variations (very Functional, not great for aesthetics)

Start in plank position with feet and hands equidistant from each other. Lift your right arm to shoulder height, keeping it parallel with the ground. Gently lower your arm and do the same with your left arm. Then lift your right leg behind you, taking care to keep it your back and leg level. Then repeat with your left leg. If these are each done properly your back should remain flat enough to balance a cup of hot coffee without it spilling! Each limb (R/L arm and R/L leg) you take away should activate a different piece of your core.

The objective of this movement is to maintain a flat, stable core and back while taking away bases of support in order to create a "core awakening". We should feel all the different parts of our core working as we take away different limbs supporting us. Try this move before a run to really get that core activated. Start with lifting each limb 5 times, however keep switching the order order to keep your body guessing! Do this 3 times, and if 5 lifts on each is too easy, add more! And remember take your time.

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Mountain Climbers 3 Ways (very functional, very aesthetic)

Start in the plank position and choose the starting leg. Drive the knee forward and straight up to your chest, engaging your rectus abdominus, and then extend it back behind you to the floor. Then drive that same knee up and across your chest, aiming at your opposite armpit to engage your internal oblique. Once again extend that knee behind you and place the foot back on the floor. Finally, drive that same knee up and towards the shoulder on its same side. Re-extend the leg back behind you and place the foot on the floor. Repeat sequence with the other leg.

Mountain Climbers 3 Ways are great because they teach us how to properly fire 3 different abdominal muscles, each of which is important for running. Try doing 5 sets on each side. If this is too much, reduce the number of sets, but be sure to keep the reps even on both sides. If 5 seems too easy repeat the entire exercise 2-3 more times.