It comes as a surprise to most new runners that running involves so much more than the actual act of running. Recovery, fueling, strength training, and perhaps one of the most important: core training.
Does core training help running?
Runners certainly benefit from completing core exercises on a regular basis. Completing core workouts for cross training or simply incorporating some of the best core exercises into your strength training workout can have a powerful impact on your running performance.
A strong core can help runners in numerous ways. Not only does it help promote proper form and posture, but it can also help increase your power and efficiency on the run. Core strength protects the lower back and keeps you from slouching, helping prevent various overuse injuries.
Completing regular core exercises is essential for runners – whether you’re a beginner or seasoned athlete.
How often should runners do core exercises?
The key to maintaining a strong core is to incorporate core exercises on a regular basis. Some runners find it easiest to complete a few exercises after each run, while others would rather group them all into a core workout.
Related: 30 Day Core Workout Challenge PDF
Runners benefit from completing a core workout once a week – or spreading out the workout by adding a few core exercises to their cooldown routine after a run.
However, regardless of how you choose to fit in your core exercises, make sure that they are a regular, consistent activity during training.
Should I do core before or after running?
Luckily, runners will benefit from core training in any capacity – whether they complete a few core exercises before or after a run or once a week with a core workout.
If you chose to complete a few core exercises on your running days, the choice of whether to complete them before or after a run is up to you. Some runners like to activate their core before a run, while others find that they stay most consistent during their cooldown routines.
With busy schedules and packed training plans, it’s important to prioritize the core exercises that will be most beneficial to you as a runner.
Spending time completing crunches or sit ups will not be the best use of your time. Look for ab exercises specifically for runners; those that target the entire core rather than just the larger core muscles. Plyometric core exercises can be particularly beneficial for runners, as they allow the body to practice engaging the core while moving.
Try adding some of these core strength exercises to your next training plan!
8 Best Core Exercises for Runners
Plank + Taps
Begin on hands and knees, and then walk your feet back into a plank position. Lower down onto your elbows, and then reach forward with one hand.
As you reach forward, extend your arm straight in front of you to tap the floor. Bring your arm back to plank position and repeat on the opposite side.
Sit down on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Lean back slightly to lift your feet off the floor, engaging your core to remain upright.
Twist your torso to bring both hands to one side of your body. Next, twist the opposite way, bringing your hands to the other side of your body. Continue twisting back and forth, alternating sides quickly with no break in between.
Double Leg Lifts
Begin by lying flat on the floor with arms down at your sides and legs extended straight. Engage your core to lift both legs straight into the air at the same time.
Keep your feet flexed and continue to raise your legs until your hips are at a 90 degree angle. Slowly lower back down to the floor with control, and repeat.
Lay down on your back with your knees bent and feet planted on the floor. Keeping your arms down at your side, lift one foot from the floor, extending your leg straight.
With one leg elevated, lift your hips from the floor, rising until your body forms a straight line between your knees and shoulders. Lower your hips back down to the floor, and repeat with the opposite leg lifted.
Begin on hands and knees, and then walk your feet back into a plank position. While maintaining this position, hop your feet out to the side, landing with them spread further apart.
Next, hop your feet back together. Continue to hop your feet in and out, as if you were doing a jumping jack with your lower body. Be sure to maintain a flat back and keep your hips in line with your body while doing so.
Lay down on the floor with knees bent and feet planted. Lower both knees to one side, keeping your back flat by twisting at the torso.
Then, lift both knees into the air, twisting your torso to bring them over to the opposite side of your body. Continue to repeat, bringing your knees back and forth from one side to the other. Keep your core engaged throughout the movement to avoid placing any strain on the neck.
Begin by lying flat on your back, with your feet planted on the floor and knees bent. Then, lift your feet and bring your knees into the air. While doing so, place your hands behind your head.
Lift your head and upper back slightly off the floor to bring your right elbow up towards your left knee. At the same time, extend your right leg straight in front of you, keeping it lifted above the floor.
Next, quickly switch sides, bringing your left elbow up and right knee in towards the center of your body. Continue to alternate sides, moving as if your legs were pedaling a bicycle.
Side Plank + Touch
Lower on to the floor, lying down on your side. Stack your feet and extend your legs straight while planting your left hand on the floor below your shoulder. Straighten your left arm to lift your shoulders and upper body off the floor into a side plank position.
Extend your right arm straight into the air, and then reach down towards your left hand. Tap the floor and then lift your right arm back into the air. Continue to repeat the taps on this side before switching to the opposite side.
These core exercises engage different areas of the core and back, helping strengthen the key core muscles for runners. Try adding a few of these exercises into your regular cool down routine after each run, or complete the core workout on strength training days.
10 Minute Core Workout for Runners
- Plank + Taps x 20
- Russian Twists x 40
- Double Leg Lifts x 20
- Hip Thrusts x 20
- Plank Jacks x 15
- Windshield Wipers x 20
- Bicycle Crunches x 30
- Side Plank + Touch x 10/side
Improving your core strength doesn’t have to take hours each week. Spending just 10 minutes on core training after a run has the potential to greatly improve your performance.
Focusing on some of the best core exercises for runners will help you make the most of your time and quickly improve your core strength.
More core workouts for runners:
- 15 Minute Crunchless Core Workout for Runners
- 10 Minute Core Tightening Workout
- 15 Minute Complete Core Workout