Core workout for runners

Key moves for core strength

Core work should not be neglected if you want to maximise your running performance. Here’s a killer core workout specifically for runners to help you become a faster and more efficient runner.



If you’ve ever watched Mo Farah sprint down the home straight you’ll notice that his running form is pretty flawless, even after 9,900m of running. This is no coincidence. He has spent many hours in the gym at the mercy of a Swiss ball, working to improving his core stability.

Core training develops strength and endurance in the muscles that lie deep in the abdomen and connect to the spine, pelvis and shoulder girdle. This improves your ability to control movement, enabling you to maintain good posture and to become a faster, more efficient runner. Studies have shown that weakness or lack of coordination in core musculature can lead to less economical or compensatory movement patterns, overuse and ultimately injury.

Take a look at this core workout specifically designed for runners:

Exercise Aim Sets Reps Recovery Tips
Dead bugs Single leg strength/lumbo-pelvic stability 3 30 seconds 60 secs Lie on your back, keeping your ribs pressed down and your low back close to the floor. Brace your abs and form a 900 angle at your hips, knees and shoulders. Your arms should be facing straight upwards towards the ceiling. Slowly, with control, lower the opposite arm and leg to the floor. Your arm should be lowered behind your head and your leg put in front of you. Brace your core muscles to prevent your low back from arching off the ground. Return to the starting position and lower the alternate arm and leg.
Side plank Core strength 3 30-45 seconds (each side) 60 secs Lie on your side with your legs straight and your ankles together. Prop your torso up with your upper arm. Lift your hips upward until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your neck. Hold this position for 30 seconds, making sure that your hips don’t drop towards the floor. (If you can, check out your body position in a mirror to make sure that you’re not allowing your hips to sag!)
Glute bridge Lumbo-pelvic stability 3 8-10  60 secs Lie on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from your neck to your knees. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds, remembering to keep your glutes switched on. Return to the start position and repeat.
Supermans Core stability 3 5-10 each side 60 secs Start on all fours. Squeezing your glutes and keep your deep core muscles switched on, slowly extend one leg and the opposite arm. Keep your back and hips level. Return to the starting position with control and repeat using the alternate arm and leg.
Swan holds Postural strength 3 10 x 5 sec holds 60 secs Lie on your front with your head in neutral, your chin tucked in and your arms by your sides. Switch on your core and squeeze your glutes. Allow your palms to float upwards and press your shoulders back as you raise your head and chest from the floor. Hold for 5 seconds and focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Mountain climbers Core stability 3 30 seconds 60 secs Place your elbows on a Swiss ball and assume a plank position. Brace your abs and then move one knee as close to your chest as possible, not allowing your back to sag as you do so.  Return to the starting position and then raise the opposite knee.

Written by Louise Damen

Louise is a two-time England Cross Country Champion and a former European XC Trials winner. She has also represented GB at various international events and her marathon PB is 2:30:0

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