I know. You love to run. You want to be healthy and injury free so you are looking to incorporate some strength moves into your routine, but you don't want to spend hours and hours in the gym (because you'd rather be running). I know how you feel, so I created this strength training for runners series just for you. I've developed five minute circuits that target the muscles that runners need to strengthen the most. It's a great place to start when you want to be a better, faster, less prone to injury runner! The first in the series is my personal favorite, core exercises. 

A strong core is a necessity for any runner. The core consists of the muscles in your abdominals, lower back and glutes. A strong core provides the stability that is essential for runners to maintain efficient form. The good news is that you don't need to spend all day in the gym working your core, you just need to consistently practice a few key moves. I suggest doing this five minute core circuit three times a week, before or after your run. Run through the circuit with no rest between movements. As you get stronger, try repeating the circuit 2 or 3 times with a one minute break between circuits.


The first move is the plank with knee to elbow movement. You will begin in a forearm plank position. Position your elbows on the floor and your shoulders directly over your elbows. Your body should be in a straight line parallel to the floor. Engage your core, pulling your belly button into your spine while breathing normally. Be careful not to sink your hips or raise your glutes in the air. If you need to rest, break it up into 15 or 30 second increments. 

starting plank position

starting plank position

Bring your knee to your elbow, alternating sides.

Bring your knee to your elbow, alternating sides.


With a straight arm lift yourself up into a side plank position. Your shoulders should be directly over your wrists. Stack your feet and don't allow your hips to drop. Hold for 30 seconds before switching sides.

Lea Genders Fitness side plank

To make the more more challenging, lift your top leg.

Lea Genders Fitness Side Plank with Leg Lift

If a straight arm side plank is too challenging, you can start in an elbow side plank and break it up into 10 or 15 seconds increments, if necessary.

Lea Genders Fitness forearm side plank


Start in a low plank position. From the right side, lift yourself up to a straight arm plank position, then lower yourself back to a forearm plank. Alternate your right and left arm when lifting to a straight arm plank. If you need to rest, break it up into 10 or 15 second increments.

Start in the low plank position

Start in the low plank position

Straighten your arm to push yourself up to a straight arm plank

Straighten your arm to push yourself up to a straight arm plank

Lea Genders Fitness Straight Arm Plank


After that last move, I am sure you will be ready for a break. This next move will be an active recovery. 

On all fours with your wrists directly underneath your shoulders lift one arm off the floor to shoulder height while lifting the opposite leg in line with the hip. Switch arms/legs after 30 seconds. Squeeze your abs and glutes during the move while breathing normally.

Lea Genders Fitness Bird dog core exercise


Lie on your back with your knees bent and lift your hips off the floor while squeezing your glutes and abs. Don't forget to breathe!

floor bridge starting position

floor bridge starting position

Straighten one leg. Keep your leg in a straight line and your knees together. Hold for 30 seconds and without lowering your hips, switch legs and hold the other leg for 30 seconds.

Lea Genders Fitness Floor Bridge


We are going to finish up the circuit by getting your heart rate up! 

Start in a straight arm plank position with shoulders directly over wrists. Step one foot up in line with hip, then step back to plank position. Repeat with opposite foot. Move as quickly as possible while keeping your core engaged and breathing normally. 

I recommend doing the circuit three times a week while continually challenging yourself. Start by completing the circuit one time for the first week, then repeat it twice the second week, and three times the third week. In order to keep progressing, you'll want to continuously make the circuit more difficult, either by adding more time, sets or progressing the exercises. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me with your questions. 

I am a NASM personal trainer that specializes in strength training for runners. I offer in-person training sessions in Fort Worth as well as online training. If you are interested in a more in-depth strength training plan for runners, please contact me

While I am a certified personal trainer, I am not your personal trainer. Since I don't know your exercise history, injury background or medical history, I recommend talking to your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

I'd love if you would try my circuit and let me know what you think! Stay tuned for more five minute circuits for runners! We can all find five minutes, right? 

You can check out more fitness articles on my Trainer Tips and Tricks page.


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