13 Essential Core Exercises for Runners

A women doing core exercises.

We know that to improve your running, you have to run. This is classic specificity in action—you train what you're looking to improve. It reminds me of this great quote: "You can't plant potatoes and expect to harvest carrots."

Genius, isn't it? But this doesn't mean that you can skip core workouts and only run. Strength and core exercises will actually help your running and prevent injuries. Many runners know this but they're not sure when to do these workouts or what to do ? until today.

Two Core Workouts to Start Doing This Week

First, understand that your "core" isn't just your abs. It also includes your hamstrings, glutes, hips, lower back and oblique muscles. Core routines for runners should target these areas in order to prevent running injuries and maintain health.

More: How to Find Your Weaknesses as a Runner and Avoid Injury

There are two different types of core workouts that runners should focus on: general strength and targeted hip and glute strength.

General strength includes all of the muscles previously mentioned. While it's not particularly focused, a well-rounded core program can improve your athleticism, reduce injuries, and make you a more efficient runner.

More: How Runners Benefit From Sport-Specific Strength Training

Core Workout #1: Focus on Your Entire Core

One of the most comprehensive workouts is the Standard Core Routine, which includes six moves repeated 2 to 3 times for one minute each. It's simple, but it's not easy. Here are the exercises:

  1. Modified Bicycle: Lie on your back and hold one leg up in the air. Your thigh should be perpendicular to your body and your shin parallel to the ground. Hold your other leg 2 to 3 inches off the ground. Hold for several seconds and switch legs. Make sure your lower back is in a neutral position during the entire exercise. You can put one hand on the small of your back to gauge this—make sure your back neither presses down or lifts up from your hand.

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