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NO PLANK Core Workout for RUNNERS

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

Who else is tired of doing 8 billion different types of planks in every "core workout for runners"?

Don't get me wrong:

Planks a GREAT place to start.

You can't go wrong with the basics.

But there's this principle called Progressive Overload...

and it applies to your core, too.

Progressive Overload: gradually and systematically progressing the difficulty of an exercise to make a particular muscle stronger. (think: add more weight, do a harder version, and more time or reps, etc)

Yes, *technically* you can hold a plank for 4minutes.

(but it's efficacy times out as you recruit muscles other than your abs. If you want to do a deep dive: click HERE).

So rather than planking for minutes on end...

how about you take a stab at my HARDEST core workout for runners yet? (no planks involved).

You up for the challenge?

NO PLANK Core Workout: Designed for RUNNERS

Circuit: 2-3 rounds // 30-60secs on with equal time off

Sprinter Crunch

  • think "opposite elbow, opposite knee", embracing your inner-sprinter coming out of the blocks.

  • let this movement be FAST and powerful.

  • the reason this "crunch" is "better": we all need a strong rectus abdominus (the glorified 6 pack muscle). But a sneaky way to work that muscle further is by bringing a knee to our chest...just like the movement of running and what you're doing here! You're basically working smarter, not harder.

Sit outs

  • I freaking love this exercise. Can you see throughout the video just how much this looks like running?

  • it challenges you to control this natural rotation through your core and your hips (more on this down below) in addition to engaging your glute medius (1 of 3 butt cheek muscles) on top of activating scapular stabilizers (shoulder blade muscles)...which you need for immaculate running form.

  • when you dare to train differently, you train smarter, not harder ;) (wait...should we put this on a t-shirt?)

Alternate toe touch "bicycles"

  • I want you to see how I STRUGGLED.

  • This particular version of bicycles requires both rectus abdominus strength (something I personally struggle with) AND oblique strength (the ab muscles that help you twist side to side).

  • When you run, you activate these muscles in an extremely similar way. so train your core in the way you're going to need it!

WHY Even Bother to Try a Different Core Exercise for Runners?

The 2 most common stories runners tell me in the clinic when I ask about their core work:

"I don't really do any...I know I should"


"I do some front planks, side planks, mountain climbers, and crunches a couple times a week"

Which category do YOU fall into? ;)

The reason I'm so PASSIONATE that YOU have a solid core routine is that the MOVEMENT of running is NOT A PLANK.

Correct if me I'm wrong, but we DON'T RUN with both feet on the ground, awkwardly staggering from one foot to the next like a rusty tin man.

When YOU run, there is a consistent, repeated rotation that occurs throughout your core and you hips.

Ex: left leg forward means front of pelvis facing right, torso facing left. Right leg forward means front of pelvis facing left, and torse facing right.

By the way, you don't have to dwell on that explanation.

It's there to demonstrate the constant flip-flopping of lefts and rights and whirly-gigging rotation that is happening with EVERY STRIDE you take.

And your CORE, is what's stabilizing it all.

This means: your core NEEDS to be trained in such a way that it can:

  • control this rotation

  • sustain this rotation

  • and produce power and stability from this rotation.

But that entire process doesn't have to be:

  • hard

  • long

  • or complicated.

It just needs to be precise, specific, and unique to YOUR needs as a runner.


That routine above will take you 10ish minutes.

(you don't have to take a full 60secs break if you don't need it).

And it make things EVEN EASIER: take a walk on the wild side and try this before a recovery or easy run as your warm up.

  • (yes, I promise, you won't explode (or implode) and the running-warm-up police will not come after you).

  • It's worth it to find out for yourself what YOUR body responds best to.

You just might find you feel incredibly strong and fluid if you do a core circuit before a run!

If everything's activated, strong, ready and to go... sounds a gamble worth taking ;)

If you're looking for even more quick running wins like this, I've got an entire FREE Strength Guide for RUNNERS ready for you. It couldn't be easier ;) Grab yours HERE.

And until next time running fit fam..

Dare to Train Differently,

Marie Whitt, PT, DPT //

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