Core Strengthening Exercises for Runners

core strengthening exercise

Core strengthening exercises sometimes take a backseat in a runner’s training regime. And down the line, that runner who had ignored his middle region, pays with a injury. Core is the most important region of a runner’s body.

Why is Core Strength Important when I Run on my Legs ?

1.  Core strength protects the running form miles after miles.

2.  It prevents swaying of hips from side to side which leads to injuries like Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Runner’s Knee, Hip pain and even to that extent Plantar Fasciitis and Achilles Tendinitis.

3.  It gives power for sprinting to the finish line, running uphill and maintaining a healthy and injury free body.

According to Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, core strength may improve performances and reduce possibility of injury in lower extremities.

What the hell is Core ?

A common misconception is that core means abs. No, it is much more than that. It comprises of abdominal muscles, lower back and glutes. The specific breakdown is given below –

core muscles

Core Muscles


–  External Obliques.

–  Rectus abdominis.

–  Lower rectus abdominis.

–  Transversus abdominis.

Lower Back

–  Quadratus lumborum.

glute muscles


–  Erector Spinae.


–  Gluteus medius.

–  Gluteus maximus.

The names can appear crazy but these muscles are the one to be targeted to ensure a injury proof body. Also, the core routine does not take more than 15-20 mins, 2-3 times a week.

Let’s go over few of the best core stimulating and strengthening exercises for runners.

1. Plank

Plank - Core strengthening exercises for runners

Basic Plank

Planks are the bread and butter of any runner aiming to excel in the sport. Front and side plank are the best exercises for stabilising the core. There are many variations to it as you become stronger. The basic posture is shown in the inset. Points to remember:

–   Keep breathing normally throughout.

–   Maintain a straight line of neck, back and glutes like a wooden plank.

–   Avoid shifting unless doing a dynamic variation.

–   Start by holding the posture for 20-30 seconds while maintaining a proper posture and build up subsequently.

2. Glute Bridge

Glute bridge - core strengthening exercises

Glute Bridge

Another great exercise for those with painful knees, hamstrings and glutes. Good form will mean a straight line from neck to knees as shown in the inset. Hold the position as long as possible without breaking the form i.e sagging of hips. To make it challenging, lift alternate legs while maintaining the straight line. Gradually keep increasing the time of the hold as you get stronger.

3. Lunge

Lunge - Core exercise


To really fire the glutes, I perform this exercise as part of warm up and core training session. To make it challenging add weights and twist to activate the stabilising muscles in glutes and abs.

4. Squat

Squat - core workout


This simple exercise of squatting is very useful for runners.  Keep legs shoulder width or slightly more apart. Squat in a controlled manner till the thighs are parallel to the ground. Then slowly come back to starting position. Serial number 2, 3 and 4 have also been included in Best Lower Body Exercises also in detail.


5. Superman

Superman - core workout


An amazing exercise for lower back as shown in the inset. Hold the position for as long as possible. There are a lot of variations to this posture like raising alternate leg and hand, raising only hands or only legs. This a exercise should be done by all runners to prevent low back ache and to keep an upright posture throughout the run.




Well, I guess that’s about all. You must be wondering I have not included any crunches for abs. I think and have also experienced that doing crunches puts a lot of strain on the lower back, hence I now do planks and other exercises. As per numerous researches, crunches do not target the core muscles effectively.

The above exercise are a mix of middle and lower body which is an ideal combination to strengthen the core. Aim to do the above exercises at least 2-3 times a week to get those drooling mid section and injury proof body. 

Till then stay fit and keep running.

Reference :
1.  Images - Google.
2.  Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Neel banerjee

Author: Neel

I am Neel and the creator of borN. I am an ultra marathoner, scuba diver, adventurer, writer and father of an extremely active child.

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