Six Key Core Exercises for Runners – No Gym Required

2017 Runner’s Tribe, all rights reserved

So everyone knows that a strong core is key. But for the time strapped runner, what are the most choice exercises on which to concentrate? We have chosen 6 key core exercises that are 1) Easy to do in the sense that no gym or expensive equipment is required 2) Are time efficient and can thus be easily incorporated into a sneaky 20 minute workout and 3) Are damn effective.

1. Planks

Probably the best known core exercise, and for a reason. They work not just your core, but your shoulders, back and abs – and best of all no equipment or gym visit is required.

They are simple as anything to do. Get into a push-up position, then hold it and concentrate on turning on your inner core muscles and squeezing your butt. Once you gain enough core strength to hold the plank for 2 minutes, then start adding in modifications such as holding an arm up or a leg up and alternating.

The below video explains it better

2. Glute Bridges

This is an awesome exercise that works the lower back and the top of the glutes, two vital areas for distance runners.

Like the plank, no gym or equipment is required. Simply lie on your back, bring your feet in toward your butt, then raise your hips up towards the ceiling.   When starting out simply hold the position for 45 seconds or so. Once you get stronger then do reps of lifting and lowering your butt, then progress to holding the bridge for longer periods of time. When that gets easy, lift one leg and do reps of lifting and lowering your butt on one leg. The progression to one legged bridges is vital if you want to achieve super strength.

The below video demonstrates how to do the more advanced bridge

3. Russian Twists

Russian twists are brutal, but worth the pain. They work the obliques and the transverse abs. The rotational nature of the exercise really helps to strengthen the muscles that keep you from rotating (from side to side) when you run.

Once again, no gym is needed. However, a medicine ball is certainly required once you have mastered the exercise with just your bodyweight.

Simply sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet slightly off the ground. Twist your torso all the way to one side, then back to the other side. Concentrate on squeezing your abs and keeping your legs still. Once you gets stronger, lean back further, or hold a medicine ball whilst twisting.

For a visual, check out what Scott has to say

4. The Hollow Rock

This is pretty hard. Lying on your back with your arms raised up behind your head, begin rocking by lifting your feet and legs up and then simultaneously lifting your upper body and arms. Try not to let your lumbar spine do too much work. Make sure to activate your abs.

Have a look here


Back strength is pretty important, us runners sometimes concentrate so much on planks and stuff like crunches that we forget about that other vital part of our core – the back. The exercise is simple, lie on your stomach with your arms and legs extended. Lift your right arm with the left leg, then alternate sides. There are many variations for this exercise, and you can hold the position for 1-2 minutes as strength increases.

6. Side Plank 

A progression from the boring standard plank. The same prinpical but on your side. Simply lie on your side, lift your body so your weight is propped up on your forearm and the side of your foot. There should be a straight line from your head to your feet.

Then hold this position making sure you activate and engage your core muscles. Once you get strong add in lateral leg raises, by slowly lifting your left and lowering it back down.


Main cover photo credit: Nitro Athletics 2017 photos by Con Chronis

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