Four Key Core Exercises For Runners

Reduce the risk of injuries without ever leaving your living room!

Reduce the risk of injuries without ever leaving your living room!

Strong legs are a must for runners, but to become a more resilient athlete making sure you have strong core is key.

“[Core] muscles are vital and they don’t always get worked enough with just running,” explained Carl Leivers, an Atlanta-based running coach. “If you don’t have hours to spend in the gym it’s always best to focus on core muscles—and not just abs.  Back muscles are just as important and are often ignored.”

RELATED: The Four Best Strength Training Exercises For Runners

Here are four of the most effective core strengthening exercises for distance runners and other endurance athletes. No gym necessary–all you need is a little floor space!


This exercise can be killer for every angle of your core. Lie on your stomach and raise up onto your toes and forearms. Your toes should be about hip distance apart with your elbows resting on the floor directly under your shoulders. Straighten out your body so you have a straight line from the top of your head to your heels and be sure that your abdominal muscles are engaged. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Work your way up to the point where you can hold the pose for a minute or more.

To work the obliques (side abdominal muscles), perform the same move on your side. Balance on your right elbow and outer edge of your right foot, creating a straight line from your feet up to your head. Hold for 30 seconds, working up to a minute or more, before switching sides.

The Hollow Rock

Well known in the CrossFit world, this exercise is easier said than done. Lying on your back with your arms raised up behind your head, begin rocking by lifting your feet and legs up and then simultaneously lifting your upper body and arms. Your body should move like a rocking chair, while engaging the abs throughout the movement.

RELATED: Fill In Your Core With The Hollow Rock

Russian Twists

With a five to fifteen pound weight (or a medicine ball) on the floor next to you, sit down with your legs extended, roll your shoulders back and sit up as tall as you can. Keeping your back straight, lean back until you feel your abs engage. For a greater challenge, lift your feet ever-so-slightly off the floor. Twist to the right and pick up your weight or medicine ball. Holding the weight, twist from right to left, reaching as far behind you as possible while maintaining your form.


This move targets your entire back, an essential part of your core. Lie on your stomach with your arms and legs extended so you look like Superman flying through the air. Lift your right arm with the left leg, then alternate sides. Practice variations of this move by only lifting the arms or only lifting the leg, or both arms and both legs at the same time. Focus on extending your limbs long and out rather than simply lifting up.