The Best Core Exercises for Runners That Aren’t Planks


Everything starts in the core.  Having core strength affects the way we sit, the way we stand, the way we squat and you guessed it, the way we run.  

When most people think about working their core, they often think of exercises that require laying down or being on the floor. For runners, planks probably come to mind as one of the “best” ways to really tighten and tone your core.  

While there is nothing wrong with the standard plank per se,  and can be incredibly beneficial when incorporated correctly, there are more functional ways to work your core that activate your glutes, lats and core simaltaneously meaning you get more of a bang for your buck. 

The best exercises to strengthen your core for runners that aren't planks!

Let’s back up for a minute. To dismiss planks is not really fair.  In fact, the plank really is the foundation of these exercises I am about the mention but they are building off of it, progressing it by changing the position of your body.  

Taking your workout up off the floor to half kneeling, tall kneeling and standing positions can offer a world of benefits that you may not even be aware of.

Let’s dive in….or perhaps crawling would be a better start 😉

Core exercises for runners that aren't planks

Bear Crawl Drags

Why it’s beneficial: Bear crawl drags help to work core and hip flexibility/mobility, improves conditioning and helps strengthen locomotive skills….like running :)

Keys to performing:  In order to successfully perform bear crawl drags with the Ultimate Sandbag, place the bag behind you and get on all fours making sure that your hips are over your knees, your shoulders are over your hands and you’re “corkscrewing” your arms into the floor.  Drag the bag forward, DO NOT lift or throw the bag.  Also be sure not to lift or elevate your hips.

You might also like:  DVRT Warrior Workout

Tall Kneeling Press Outs

Why it’s beneficial: Progressing from the floor up to a tall kneeling position causes your core and hips to work harder and also helps to expose weaknesses that may exist on one side.  By not being able to generate power from your feet, you’re forced to use your glutes and core to stabilize yourself.  Adding in a press out also helps to engage your lats. 

Keys to performing: Start on your knees directly underneath your hips with your feet flexed, digging the ball of your foot into the ground.  Grab the bag by the middle and bring it up to chest height.  Slowly press out while still kneeling tall and then pull in back in towards you.  Avoid leaning or swaying when you do so. 

Half Kneeling Arc Press

Why it’s beneficial: The half kneeling position not only helps to stabilize your hips but also helps to create mobility and increase activation in your glutes.  Incorporating the arc press helps to engage even more muscles (core and lats) and will work to integrate them so you can run faster, jump higher and build power from your lower to upper body. 

Keys to performing: Assume the half kneeling position so that both legs create 90 degree angles.  Grab the Ultimate Sandbag core bag by the middle and press overhead to the opposite shoulder with the other arm guiding you.  Be careful not to shift your hips laterally, arch too excessively or bob the head around the bag when pressing from shoulder to shoulder. 

You might also like:  Wild Workout Wednesday: Ultimate Sandbag Upper Body Burner Workout

Carries with the Ultimate Sandbag

Why it’s beneficial: Loaded carries are an awesome functional exercise that not only help to develop strength but also improve conditioning and core strength which we all know is KEY to stronger running.  By performing the loaded carry in an offset nature (meaning that you carry two Ultimate Sandbags of different weights) you work to keep your torso in an upright position even as you begin to feel tired and fatigued. We all know how common fatigue is especially in the last few miles of a long run or race and keeping your upper body upright is key to finishing strong!

Keys to performing: Whether you’re doing offset loaded carries (shown above), front loaded carries or shoulder carries, the key is to not sway your hips laterally and keep your torso vertical.

Welcome to back to our Wild Workout Wednesday link up! Each week I link up with Michelle at Fruition Fitness and Nicole from Fitful Focus and Jen from Pretty Little Grub to bring you workout ideas, motivation, inspiration and recipes to try. Join us for a wild workout each week by reading along or grab the button and link up if you have a fitness or healthy living post to share! 

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About me

Annmarie is a self proclaimed foodie, avid long distance runner and functional fitness coach. A DVRT Master Trainer, HKC Instructor and food allergy sufferer, she writes about strength training for runners as well as shares allergy friendly recipes for busy athletes.   She is also the owner of Strength In Motion Studio, mother of two sassy sisters and wife to a chronically busy chiropractor.   Subscribe by email for updates to get the latest workouts, advice and recipes straight to your inbox!

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