The 10 Best Core Exercises For Runners

Having a strong core is necessary when you are a runner. This is because your core is responsible for supporting your body and keeping proper posture while you are moving. When your entire core ( chest, abs, obliques, and back) are strong, they help strengthen the way your hips, pelvis, and lower back move, therefore, improving your run.

Here is a list of the top 10 core exercises every runner would benefit from by adding them to their workout routines.

1. Ball Crunch (Requires a Balance Yoga Ball\Swiss Ball)

  • Sit on a yoga ball with your knees bent at a 90’ angle and your head, neck, and shoulders aligned.
  • Use your hands to support your neck, elbows out.
  • Slowly step forwards, allowing the ball to roll up from your butt to your lower back.
  • With your core engaged and holding your body against the ball, crunch yourself forward, bending at your hips, never pulling your head with your hands.
  • Hold for a few seconds, then slowly release back down using your abs to do the work. 

Best Core Exercises For Runners - Ball Crunch

Related: Can Running Give You Abs?

2. Plank

  • Lay on the floor directly on your stomach keeping both of your feet hips length apart, and your toes touch the ground.
  • Place your hands even with your shoulders, the same width apart as your feet, similar to the way you would prepare for a push-up.
  • Keeping your back, neck, and head aligned, engage your core muscles and push up off the ground with your arms.
  • Keep this position for 30 secs then release, do not drop, lower slowly. 

Best Core Exercises For Runners - Plank Forearm

Best Core Exercises For Runners - Forearm Plank Closed Fist

Best Core Exercises For Runners - High Plank

3. Side-Plank (each side)

  • Sitting on the floor, stretch your legs out in front of you.
  • Roll to one side, still sitting up, and place one foot on top of the other, with the same side hand as the lower foot pressing firmly against the floor.
  • While keeping your core engaged, lift yourself off of the mat, raising your hips from the ground, and straightening the arm, pushing against the ground entirely out, your body aligned.
  • Slowly release down to the floor and repeat on the other side.

 Best Core Exercises For Runners - Side Planks

4. Floor Prone Cobra

  • Lay down on your stomach.
  • With your palms facing up, keep your arms stretch out to your sides.
  • Engage your core and butt muscles squeezing them both tightly
  • Lift your head and shoulders off the floor while slowly peeling your chest up a tiny bit off the ground, like you are trying to lift your head to the sky.
  • Now, pull your shoulders back, squeezing your shoulder muscles together.
  • Keep your head, neck and spine aligned and hold this position for about 20 seconds. 

Best Core Exercises For Runners - Prone Cobra

5. Windshield Wipers

  • Lay flat on your back with your feet touching and your arms spread out, making a straight line with your shoulders.
  • Eyes looking at the ceiling, raise your legs, creating a 90’ angle with your body.
  • Engage your core and rotate with only your hips allowing your feet to fall to one side, still pressing together, never lifting your back
  • While still only using your abs to control the motions, slowly bring your legs back up and then down to the ground on the other side of your body

Best Core Exercises For Runners - Windshield Wiper (1)

Best Core Exercises For Runners - Windshield Wiper (2)

Best Core Exercises For Runners - Windshield Wiper (3)
Please keep your feet intact.

6. Scissor Kicks

  • Laying flat on your back, engage your core muscles with your back firmly to the ground and feet hip lengths apart.
  • Using only your core, raise one leg into the air in a slow, fluid motion with your toes pointing outwards and the opposite foot hoover about an inch or so off of the floor.
  • Simultaneously bring your leg back down to the floor as the opposite leg raises. Do not let your foot touch the ground. (the bottom foot should always be hovering just above the floor.

 Best Core Exercises For Runners - Scissor Kicks

7. Bridges (Butt lift/Hip Raises)

  • Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and the bottom of your feet pressed firmly to the floor.
  • Lay your arms on the floor next to you on both sides, palms facing down.
  • Engage your core muscles and squeeze your butt muscles tight
  • Lift your pelvis upwards, continuing to squeeze your muscles, until your back is off the floor and you are making a bridge shape from your feet to your shoulders. (Your hands should still be in place by your sides.)
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and slowly lower yourself back to the floor.
  • Repete this ten times. 

 Best Core Exercises For Runners - Bridges - Hip Raises

8. Russian Twist

  • Sit on the floor with your back straight and your knees bent.
  • Slowly lower yourself backward just a few inches, feeling your abs engage and working to hold you up.
  • Keep your spine, neck, and head aligned.
  • With your hands clasped together, or while holding a medicine ball, twisting only at your weight, slowly bring your hands across your body, touching one side of the ground near your midsection, then gradually moving to the other side, touching the ground.
  • Repete this movement 10-15 times on each side. 

 Best Core Exercises For Runners - Russian Twist

9. Bear Crawl

  • Drop to all fours on the ground with your toes pressed into the floor
  • Liftoff of your toes, bringing your knees up and hovering a few inches of the ground. This should create a 90’ angle.
  • Keep your body low to the ground and move one and the opposite leg simultaneously forwards.
  • Now, do it again with the opposite hand and leg.
  • Take a few steps (or crawls) forward, then do these same movements backward. 

Best Core Exercises For Runners - Bear Crawl 1

Best Core Exercises For Runners - Bear Crawl 2

Best Core Exercises For Runners - Bear Crawl 3

10. V-Ups

  • Lay flat on your back with your body fully aligned.
  • Eyes facing the ceiling
  • With your legs still fully extended, simultaneously lift your upper and lower body, hands and feet meeting at the top, and your weight balancing on your butt.
  • Slowly release downwards, again, allowing your abs to do all the work. 

 Best Core Exercises For Runners - V Ups

Things to Remember

To benefit from these exercises, you need to allow your abs to do all of the hard work, never using your back or pulling on your kneck for leverage. Not only is this going to reduce your seeing any results from the workout, but it can cause damage to your neck and back.

Also, never push harder than your body can handle. You will notice you can do more reps for more extended periods as you do these exercises frequently.


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Coach Scott's Credentials:
  • Published Author
  • RRCA Certified Running Coach (Level 2)
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He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 22nd half marathon race. 

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The 10 Best Core Exercises For Runners