Three Essential Core Exercises for Runners

In our recent blog we wrote that “by specifically strengthening your core you are setting yourself up for a decrease in injuries and increase in your overall running performance” – not exactly the most controversial thing we’ve published.

Among personal trainers and running coaches that sort of wisdom is all pervasive. But if you’re new to running, core strength training can be a bit of a mystery. Where exactly should you start?

Well, there are dozens of great exercises – hundreds if you include those using specialised pilates equipment, but these are our picks of the best. If you’re going to do just one thing to love your core, these exercises should be it!

CAUTION: These are designed for reasonably fit people who aren’t carrying any existing injuries. If you’ve got gammy knees, dodgy ankles, back or neck issues, or you’re just generally not in great shape, then these may not be for you.

Four-point kneeling lifts

Here’s what it looks like:

… and here’s how to do it:

  1. Get into a basic four-point kneeling pose with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips then creep your hands forwards so your hips are flexed to about a 45-degree angle.
  2. Make sure your shoulders are in neutral. To find neutral, flex your shoulders as far forwards as is comfortable, then as far back, and then come back to the mid-point between them – that’s neutral.
  3. Keeping the rest of your body still, lift one leg by moving it directly backwards. Repeat three times, then shift to the other leg.
  4. Likewise for your arms: keep everything else still and just float one arm up by moving it directly forwards.
  5. For extra difficulty, try floating your right arm and left leg, or vice versa (but we don’t recommend trying the next step: both arms and one leg 😉

Kneeling rock backs 

Here’s what it looks like:

… and here’s how to do it:

  1. Position yourself in an upright kneeling position (so kneeling with your thighs vertical).
  2. Raise your hands in front of you with your palms facing inwards so your arms are parallel to the floor.
  3. Rock backwards gently from the knees being sure to keep your spine in neutral

Like all core exercises this one’s all about technique – don’t worry about going fast or further back than you think you should. Concentrate on keeping perfect ballerina-like posture right the way through the movement.


Here’s what it looks like:

… and here’s how to do it:

  1. Get into a side-plank position with one hand and one foot on the floor with your feet side-by-side chest and hips vertical and your spine straight.
  2. Lift your top hand and top foot, keeping your elbow and knee straight and making sure your spine stays nice and straight.
  3. For extra difficulty, move both your hand and foot forwards, or one forward and one back.

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