Best core exercises for runners can be done as part of a workout at home or at the gym. You could also do core work as part of a pre-warm up.
7 Best Core Exercises for Runners
For runners, having a strong core is essential for maintaining proper running form, stability, and preventing injuries. Here are some of the best core exercises specifically beneficial for runners:
- Plank variations: Planks are excellent exercises for runners as they engage the entire core, including the deep stabilizing muscles. Incorporate variations such as high plank, forearm plank, side plank, and plank with leg lifts to challenge different aspects of core stability.
- Bird Dogs: Bird Dogs help improve core stability and coordination. Get on all fours, extend one arm forward while extending the opposite leg backward, and hold the position briefly. Alternate sides and focus on maintaining a neutral spine throughout the movement.
- Glute Bridges: Glute bridges primarily target the glutes but also engage the core muscles. Lie on your back with knees bent, feet hip-width apart, and lift your hips off the ground while squeezing your glutes. Focus on maintaining a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Russian Twists: Russian twists work the obliques and help improve rotational stability. Sit on the ground with your knees bent, lean back slightly, and twist your torso from side to side while keeping your core engaged.
- Medicine Ball Rotational Throws: Rotational throws with a medicine ball mimic the rotational forces experienced while running and help develop power and stability. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hold a medicine ball in front of your body, rotate your torso to one side, and explosively throw the ball to a partner or against a wall. Catch or retrieve the ball and repeat on the other side.
- Single-Leg Deadlifts: Single-leg deadlifts target the glutes, hamstrings, and improve balance and stability. Stand on one leg, hinge forward at the hips while extending the opposite leg backward, and reach towards the ground. Focus on keeping a neutral spine and engaging your core for stability.
- Standing Side Leg Lifts: Standing side leg lifts help strengthen the hips and glutes, which are crucial for maintaining proper running mechanics. Stand tall and lift one leg out to the side, keeping the core engaged and hips stable. Slowly lower the leg and repeat on the other side.
Remember to maintain proper form, start with appropriate difficulty levels, and progress gradually. It’s beneficial to include a variety of exercises that target different aspects of core strength, stability, and mobility. Additionally, incorporating these exercises into a well-rounded training program that includes running, strength training, and flexibility work can further enhance your running performance and reduce the risk of injuries.
Top 4 CORE STRENGTH Exercises For Runners
How can I strengthen my core for running?
Strengthening your core is essential for running, as it helps improve stability, maintain proper running form, and prevent injuries. Here are some strategies to strengthen your core specifically for running:
- Incorporate core exercises: Include specific core exercises in your training routine that target the muscles of your abdomen, back, and pelvis. Planks, bird dogs, Russian twists, glute bridges, and medicine ball rotational throws are all effective exercises for strengthening the core. Aim to perform these exercises 2-3 times per week.
- Focus on stability: Core stability is crucial for running, as it helps maintain proper alignment and control. Include exercises that challenge your core stability, such as single-leg exercises (lunges, single-leg deadlifts), standing side leg lifts, and exercises on unstable surfaces (stability ball exercises, Bosu ball exercises). These exercises force your core muscles to work harder to maintain stability.
- Engage your core while running: Focus on engaging your core muscles while running. Imagine pulling your belly button towards your spine, maintaining good posture, and avoiding excessive leaning or twisting. This will help activate your core muscles and promote proper alignment and stability while running.
- Strength training for overall body strength: In addition to core-specific exercises, incorporate strength training exercises for your entire body. Strengthening your legs, hips, and upper body will contribute to overall running performance and help support your core stability. Squats, lunges, deadlifts, and upper body exercises such as rows and overhead presses can be beneficial.
- Cross-training activities: Engaging in cross-training activities that challenge your core muscles can also be helpful. Activities like Pilates, yoga, swimming, and stability training can further strengthen your core and improve overall body control and stability.
- Progress gradually: Start with exercises that suit your current fitness level and gradually increase the intensity and difficulty as you get stronger. Progression can involve increasing the duration, adding resistance, or performing more challenging variations of the exercises. Gradual progression helps prevent injury and allows your core muscles to adapt and strengthen over time.
Remember to listen to your body, prioritize proper form, and avoid overtraining. If you have any specific concerns or injuries, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified fitness professional or physical therapist who can provide personalized guidance and exercises tailored to your needs.
The 5 MOST IMPORTANT Exercises for Runners
How many times a week should runners do core strength training?
For runners, it’s generally recommended to incorporate core strength training into their routine at least 2-3 times per week. Regular and consistent core training can help improve running performance, stability, and prevent injuries. Here are a few points to consider:
- Frequency: Aim to perform core strength training exercises 2-3 times per week. This frequency allows for adequate recovery between sessions while providing enough stimulus to promote strength gains and improvements in core stability.
- Recovery and rest: Just like any other form of training, it’s important to allow your body sufficient time to recover between core workouts. Muscles need time to repair and adapt to the training stimulus. Avoid consecutive days of intense core training and consider alternating core workouts with other forms of training or rest days.
- Quality over quantity: Focus on the quality of your core training sessions rather than simply increasing the frequency. Performing exercises with proper form, engaging the correct muscles, and challenging yourself appropriately is more important than the number of sessions you complete. Prioritize good technique and gradually progress the difficulty and intensity of your exercises over time.
- Integration with other training: Core strength training can be incorporated on non-running days or as a separate session after your running workouts. Consider scheduling your core training strategically to avoid doing it immediately before or after intense running workouts that may affect your performance.
- Individual needs and goals: The frequency of core training can vary based on individual factors such as training volume, running experience, overall fitness level, and specific goals. If you’re new to core training or have a weak core, you may start with fewer sessions per week and gradually increase the frequency as your strength improves.
- Recovery and adaptation: Allow your body time to adapt to the core training stimulus. It’s normal to experience some muscle soreness after intense core workouts, especially if you’re new to the exercises. Adequate recovery, hydration, and proper nutrition will aid in the recovery process.
Remember, core strength training is just one aspect of a well-rounded training program for runners. It should be complemented with proper running technique, cardiovascular training, flexibility work, and other forms of strength training for overall fitness and performance enhancement. Consulting with a qualified running coach or fitness professional can provide personalized guidance based on your specific needs and goals.
What are the signs of a weak core for a runner?
A weak core can impact a runner’s performance and increase the risk of injuries. Here are some signs that may indicate a weak core for a runner:
- Poor posture: If you find it challenging to maintain good posture while running, such as slumping forward, leaning excessively, or overarching your lower back, it may indicate a weak core. A strong core helps support proper alignment and stability, allowing you to maintain an upright posture.
- Difficulty with balance and stability: Core muscles play a significant role in maintaining balance and stability during running. If you struggle with balance or feel wobbly during single-leg exercises or when running on uneven surfaces, it may indicate a weak core.
- Lower back pain: Weak core muscles can contribute to lower back pain, as they provide support and stability to the spine. If you frequently experience lower back discomfort or pain during or after running, it’s worth considering the strength of your core muscles.
- Lack of power and efficiency: A strong core helps generate power and transfer energy efficiently during running. If you feel that your stride lacks power or you tire quickly during runs despite good cardiovascular fitness, a weak core could be a contributing factor.
- Decreased running performance: If you notice a decline in your running performance, such as slower times, difficulty maintaining pace, or feeling fatigued earlier than usual, a weak core may be hindering your overall running efficiency and ability to maintain proper form.
- Excessive hip movement: Insufficient core strength can lead to excessive hip movement, such as side-to-side swaying or excessive rotation, which can waste energy and disrupt running mechanics.
It’s important to note that these signs can also be attributed to other factors, and individual experiences may vary. However, if you identify with several of these signs and suspect a weak core, incorporating targeted core strength exercises into your training routine can help address the issue. Consult with a qualified fitness professional or physical therapist who can assess your specific situation and provide guidance on appropriate exercises and training strategies.
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