Top 4 Core Exercises for Runners – Garage Strength

Top 4 Core Exercises for Runners

Distance runners love to train core. They love to go in the weightroom to improve their overall performance. It is absolutely imperative for distance runners to improve their core strength, their trunk stability. It isn’t just core, we are looking to enhance overall trunk control. If we improve dynamic trunk control, we will have more efficient strides, waste less energy, and optimize what our energy usage becomes.

As we try to enhance our distance running performance, we have to understand how the core movement transfers over to the track or cross country and enhance the overall stride.

4. Hanging Bicycle Raise

We want to hang from a pull up bar. We don’t want to be swinging too much while doing the movement. A key factor is to dorsiflex the ankles and hold the position. From there, we alternate one leg to the next leg, raising the knee up into a hip-lock. We want to think about pushing our belly button back into somebody behind us. We want to coordinate our abs with our hips.

A big factor with distance running is that we can enhance our stride length if our abs learn how to work in conjunction with our hip flexion. Just make sure to squeeze the belly button back while coordinated from a unilateral perspective. We are training the entire trunk.

Do this movement twice a week for sets of thirty on each side for three or four sets. A major benefit is the movement is unloaded. Hanging from the bar may help alleviate back pain from the hips learning how to coordinate more effectively with the trunk.

3. Gorilla Walk

We want to get some adaptation from trunk stability. We are looking for dynamic trunk control, learning how to coordinate the upper body with the trunks and hips. This will make us more effective when we run and improve our performance.

To do this movement we hold flexion in the hips and use the arms and hands to walk across a surface. Ideally the feet are on furniture sliders or a towel on a linoleum floor. The movement requires that we really squeeze in the hips and abs.

Think about having the palms forward with the thumbs pointing towards each other. Use the lats when walking with the arms and target the abs with the mind muscle connection.

Do this movement once a week for four sets of fifteen to twenty meters to blow up the abs and contribute to dynamic trunk control.

2. Bicycle Abs

Mastering dynamic trunk control is paramount. Its gospel needs to spread across the distance running world. We need to do trunk work to improve our performance.

We want to hold in almost a hollow body position, pushing the belly button down into the floor. We want to try and take the knee from a single leg to the opposite elbow, alternating the legs. In addition, we want to have the arms extended over the head holding light kettlebells overhead. Push the abs down when coming back to the surface.

Holding the hollow position and the weights overhead helps increase the tension inside the trunk. This helps the spine be more stable. Do the movement twice a week for two to three sets of sixteen to twenty reps.

1. Banded Side Raise In A Plank

In a plank position, we want to use a single arm to pull a band with a little bit of external rotation. Have the band attached to an immovable object. 

The whole point is to hold and prevent rotation of the trunk. It is an antirotation movement. We recommend the push up plank position because we believe it to be more challenging.

In the plank position, squeeze the abs in through the hips, pushing the feet into the ground nice and tight to minimize rotation. A movement this challenging needs to be eased into a little bit.

Antirotation helps distance runners greatly. Runners who lose energy going side to side need to minimize that energy loss. That is where this movement comes into play. Do it once a week with a dumbbell and another time with a band. Complete two to three sets of ten to fifteen reps on each side.


It is important when training the trunk for distance running to utilize movements that transfer to the sport. We want movement that enhance dynamic trunk control and increase muscular coordination between the trunk, upper body, hips, and legs. Implement hanging bicycle raises, gorilla walks, banded side raises in a plank, and bicycle abs into weekly training. From there, note how much more efficient the body feels in generating power through the trunk and into the muscles throughout the body to land faster times running. 


Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.

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1 comment

  • I am a S& C coach in Sri Lanka
    I follow follow your page .Great I need to follow a course in S & C


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