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Exercises for runners that focus on balance, stability and strength

Balance is often a neglected element of our training but is vital to success on the road, track or trails

Exercises-For-Runners-PlankingExercises for runners that focus on balance, stability and strength

When someone makes the decision to finally shelf the excuses and get their gym-game on they’ll often get straight to the weight rack or they’ll run out their front doors resembling Forest Gump. All positives, but some components of exercise are less obvious than others. Working on core strength, balance and stability will not only help improve our physical activities but our day-to-day activities too. Here are our podium pick exercises for runners to focus on; core exercises for balance, stability and strength.


Quit avoiding this classic in your abdomen routine. Place a mat down on the floor and get into the press up position. However, rather than balancing on the palms of your hands as you usually would in a press up, rest on your elbow with your forearms directly out in front of you. Hold this position for your desired length of time, keeping your back straight with no bends or flex, and tightening your core. It will be tough as a newbie, your whole body will shake, but work to increase your planking time and it will slowly get easier.

Leg lowers

Using a mat for comfort and lie flat on your back with your arms by your side. Point your toes and keeping your legs straight lift your feet up to create a 90 degree angle between your back and legs. From this starting position slowly lower your legs back down towards the floor. Once at their lowest position, but without touching the floor, lift your feet back to the starting position and continue.

Top tip: if you can endure the suffering, the slower you lower your feet to the floor the more beneficial this exercise will be. The added time under tension will add even more stress and strain (the good kind) to your abdomen, making this exercise even better.

Pallof press

If you’re in the gym looking at that dual action pulley thinking ‘what the heck does this do’, here’s a good abs exercise for you to try. Using one single handled grip, attach to the DAP and select a lightweight. The aim of this exercise is to stand side on to the DAP and to swing your arms away from the DAP but keeping your feet planted. For this reason, you will want the handle to be at just below shoulder height.

To enter your starting position, hold the handle and take a step away from the machine to add tension to the rope. With your shoulder facing the DAP, put your arms out in front of you at 12 o’clock with your feet facing forward.  Allow your arms, shoulders and hip to ease back towards the machine to an 11 o’clock position but making sure you keep tension on the rope. This is your starting position. From here, keep your arms out in front of you, hips and shoulders loose and use predominantly your core muscles to pull your body and hands to a 2 o’clock position. In this movement, you should feel the tension on your abs. Return to the starting position and repeat for the desired reps and sets.

Pistol squats

A very simple, yet very effective exercise. To perform this movement you’ll be squatting on one leg. Standing on one leg, bend at the knee to lower your upper body closer to the ground. Keep your bum over your heel to maintain a stable position. Whilst bending your knee, extend your other leg out in front of you to aid your balance. It’s also helpful to use your hands to make sure you don’t take a tumble. From this low position straighten the leg to complete the movement.


If the thought of burpees doesn’t get you running to safety, then you’re actually the people we want. The infamous burpee should in no means be understated. A dynamic, explosive exercise that can be altered and changed for athletes of all abilities.

You can mix up your burpees in a variety of ways. In the video above, Scott Herman demonstrates a burpee that incorporates a push-up. Instead of a push-up, you could try a hill climber, a gecko or horizontal jump.

Inverted geckos

The inverted gecko is the evil twin of the gecko. To perform a gecko, start in the press-up position. Whilst in the downward phase of the press-up, bring your knee to your elbow to activate your core. Whilst straightening your arms to complete the press-up, adduct the knee from the hip back to the starting position and back in the regular press-up position.

For inverted geckos, you’re going to bring your knee to the opposite elbow. If your right knee needs to touch your left elbow you will need to bring the leg under your body. To get full engagement of the core, relax your shoulders and hips and allow them to follow your body’s natural flex. Whilst moving your leg remember to continue with the downwards phase of your press-up and return back to the starting position.


The core killer. Top of my ab exercise list. Chainsaws include both time under tension and engagement of compound muscle groups.

Using a mat, lie flat on your back. Place your hands by your side then move them away about 5 inches from your body. Moving them out of the central line of your body will help with your balance so find wherever is comfy. Lift your shoulders and legs off the floor to create a disc shape with your body.  Point your toes. From this position, swing your legs from side to side to start with. Once your comfortable with this motion add a cross-over with your feet.  Quickly criss-cross, bringing one foot on top of the other continuously, whilst using swinging legs from side to side.

Joe Tucker
the authorJoe Tucker
Joe is an aspiring fitness journalist looking to get his foot in the industry at jogger.co.uk. A fair-weather runner and sparring sissy who occasionally enjoys rolling down hills ... on two wheels that is. Any story ideas? Feel free to DM him with any ideas.

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