Best Core Exercises For Runners to Improve Performance
As a runner it is important to hold good form when you run. Not only does it prevent injuries, but it also helps in the later of a run when you start to fatigue. That’s where core exercises for runners come in. Strengthening your core will not only improve your stride, posture and speed. It will also help improve your running and overall athletic performance.
In this article, we provide some practical core training tips for runners. We also provide you with some examples of bodyweight core exercises for runners that you can do at home.
So keep reading on to learn about how core training can help you improve your running. However, if you don’t have time to read the whole article, jump to the 10-minute core workout for runners, that will give you a simple and fast way to start working on your core.
What Are Core Muscles – What You Should Know
Often mistaken for just your abdominals, core muscles are a complex set of muscles that are interconnected. These muscles provide us with stability, strength, and power throughout the movements we make.
So what are core muscles then? The core muscles are a group of muscles that connect the pelvis, spine, trunk, and other parts of the body together. These muscles are called the Transverse Abdominis, Erector spine, Obliques, and Rectus Abdominis.
While these are typically the main player when it comes to our core muscles, other muscles such as the glutes, scapula, flexors, and pelvic floor play a role in your core too.
This may feel confusing, but to simply answer the question, your core is all muscles located around the center of the body. Both in the front and back.
However, the key muscles to think about when doing core exercises are:
Transverse Abdominis – Muscles that wrap around the spine and sides of the body.
Erector Spine – Muscles located in your lower back.
Obliques – On the side of your abdomen, these are eternal and internal muscles.
Rectus Abdominis – A pair of flat and long muscles in the front of the abdomen.
Best Core Exercises For Runners – What Are They?
Even though many runners think they need to strengthen their core, not many take the time to actually do it. This largely revolves around having spare time and the thought of doing another 30-minute long session puts many runners off.
However, some of the best core exercises for runners only take a mere 40 seconds to perform. That means you should be able to perform a full core exercise program in under 10 minutes.
If you are looking for a quick 10-minute core workout, try some of the exercises below:
The superhuman back extension exercise is a great way to strengthen your entire core. This includes your abdominals, obliques, and lower back. By isolating these muscles as you lift them off the floor, you will teach your body to stabilize itself.
To perform the superman exercise follow the instructions below:
1. Lie face down on the floor
2. Extend your arms forward with your palms facing down.
3. Contract your abdominals and simultaneously, lift your arms, head, chest, and legs off the ground.
4. Once you cannot lift them any higher, contract your muscles and hold them for 3-5 seconds.
5. Slowly release back to the starting position and repeat.
6. Aim for 2-3 sets with 10-15 repetitions.
V-Sit Abdominal Workout
A simple workout that can be done anywhere. The V-Sit ab exercise will help to strengthen your abdominal muscles as well as your lower back and obliques. It has also been proven to improve balance in some people.
To perform the v-sit ab workout follow the instructions below:
1. Begin by sitting on the floor with your hands next to your hips but behind your back slightly.
2. Slowly tighten your core and start raising your legs to 45 degrees.
3. As you raise your legs try to reach and touch your shins.
4. Once you have reached as far as you can go, hold that position for 3-5 seconds.
5. Return to the starting position and repeat this exercise 5-10 times.
Note: As you get better you will be able to hold the position for longer than 5 seconds.
Hip Bridge Exercise
Hip bridges are a great core exercise that doesn’t specifically focus on the abdominal muscles. The hip bridge exercise actually targets the glute and hamstring muscles. However, the exercise does help strengthen the abdominal muscles.
To do the hip bridge, start by:
1. Lie flat on your back and bend your knees.
2. Keep both feet on the floor and place your arms to the side of you.
3. Tighten your abdominal and butt muscles.
4. Then lift your hip towards the sky and hold a straight position between your knees and your chest.
5. Hold the position for 5-10 seconds
6. Lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat.
Note: as you get stronger you will be able to hold that position for longer than 10 seconds. Ideally aim to hold the position for more than 30 seconds.
Single-Leg Bridge Exercise
To do the single-leg bridge, start by:
1. Lie on the ground with your knees bent and feet on the ground.
2. Tighten your abdominal and glute muscles why keeping your arms at your side.
3.Lift one leg up and allow the opposite hip to follow with it.
4. Hold that position and contract your glutes for 10-15 seconds.
5. Then slowly lower your hips back to the starting position and place your leg in the starting position.
6. Repeat with the opposite leg for 10-15 repetitions.
Other Exercises you can combine with the ones above:
Plank – The plank exercise is a common tool for runners wanting to strengthen their core. However, for most people, it is too easy. Instead, try to walk with your hands and toes while in the plank position. This will force you to stabilize your hips, core, and back more. Ultimately giving you a better workout.
Bird Dog or Quadruped Exercise – The bird dog exercise is a variation of the plank. However, the bird dog requires you to get on all fours and lift one arm in front of you while you lift the opposite leg behind you.
While there are hundreds of other core exercises for runners you can do. The above are some great core exercises for beginners that haven’t been doing any core work.
Benefits of Core Training For Runners
Now before you think about the time it will take to complete a core workout 3 times a week. There are many benefits of core training for runners. Some of these benefits are:
– Develop rectus and transverse muscles
– Strengthen your obliques to keep good form
– Increased stability
– More efficient in your running form
– Stronger core muscles reduce the stress on your lower back.
Other areas like injury prevention are another benefit to regular core training.
Bodyweight Core Exercises For Runners
No matter if you are a beginner or experienced in core training, most exercises can be done with your own body weight. However, for the more experienced athlete, you may want to add some resistance to the exercises. So, try using ankle or arm weights to help increase the load, but remember to start off on a lower weight first and slowly increase it.
10 minute Core Workout For Runners When You Have No Time
Luckily if you struggle to find time in your day there is a simple 10-minute core workout for runners you can follow.
By taking the exercises we have talked about in this article and putting them together we create a simple and quick 10-minute core workout for the runner.
To do this workout start by walking for 5 to 10 minutes to warm up the body. Alternatively, it can be performed after a run.
1. Warm-up 5 to 10 minutes
2. Superman exercise x6
3. V-Sit Abdominal Workout x8
4. Hip Bridge Exercise x 10
5. Single-Leg Bridge Exercise x10
Once you have completed the above first set of exercises, repeat for a total of 3 sets. Aim to do this workout 2-3 times per week and once you get stronger, start to add some light ankle or arm weights.