Core Training for Runners: Part 10: Routines

By Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC

Las Vegas Informer

Use a variety of training routines to strengthen your core. Utilizing numerous exercises and training programs targets the core muscles from all angles. Insert a multitude of core strengthening exercises into your fitness routine to increase running performance and decrease the possibility of injury.

Start at a level that is appropriate for you, especially if returning from a long training lay-off or an injury. Be patient and use your core training as part of your overall fitness regime.

Workout #1: Begin with the basics. Build a solid foundation with the fundamental exercises then gradually add variation to these exercises.

Basic Routine: A good starting routine can include one or two exercises for the rectus abdominis, one for the obliques and one plank.

Frog leg crunch

Supine leg raise

Side plank raise (Right)

Side plank raise (Left)

Basic plank

Rest for thirty seconds between sets. Start with the number of repetitions you can perform with perfect form. If that number is five then do five. If that number is twenty then do twenty. Strive to increase the number of reps of every exercise each workout. A good number of repetitions is between twenty and fifty.

Workout #2: There is no reason to do hundreds or thousands of repetitions of a single exercise. Instead once the desired number of repetitions is achieved shorten the rest time between exercises.

Frog leg crunch

Supine leg raise


Basic plank

Side plank raise (Right)

Side plank raise (Left)

No rest between sets. Move immediately from one exercise to the next. The exercises are combined into one giant set or series. Twenty reps of each exercise and a thirty second plank will give the core a solid workout.

Perform several stomach vacuums after you’ve completed one to three series.

A core training session does not have to be lengthy or complicated to be productive. This time efficient training session is a simple way to intensify your core training without adding a large number of exercises and making the workout time consuming. It also increases endurance since the core does not rest throughout the entire series.

Workout #3: Once a strong foundation is built add exercise variations and use simple equipment, such as the fitball, to further enhance your core strength.

Supine fitball crunches with your lower legs on the fitball

Fitball leg raise

Fitball planks

Fitball Supermans

Fitball side crunch (Right)

Fitball side crunch (Left)

The spherical shaped, unstable fitball adds a new dimension to core training.

Workout #4: Insert verticals in your core training on days that you train at the gym. Use a pull-up bar or a captain’s chair to do a series of the following exercises.

Vertical straight leg raise

Vertical knee-ups

Vertical pelvis raise

Rest for two minutes then perform another series. If you feel strong execute a third set after a two minute rest. Perform one or two stomach vacuums from the captain’s chair or pull-up bar to complete your training session.

Workout #5: Graduate to advanced core exercises incrementally. Introduce advanced exercises into your routine one at a time to learn the motion and prevent over taxing the muscles and joints.

Once a number of advanced core exercises are utilized your routine could be a giant set of the following exercises.


Fitball pike and roll out

Fitball plank with toes on ball

Abdominal wheel

Fitball side crunch (Right)

Fitball side crunch (Left)

Muscle Confusion: Use exercise variations and set and rep variations as you please. Once you have mastered an exercise or it is no longer challenging, modify the exercise or progress to another exercise. The mind and body must be continually stimulated with new challenges to prevent boredom and continue growing.

Once you have moved past the beginner’s stage, formulate several core training routines and alternate between them. For instance: Routine number one may consist of all floor exercises. Routine number two may consist of planks with numerous variations. Routine number three may include only verticals and routine number four can be a combination of floor and planks. Experiment to find what optimizes your results. Constantly modify your routine to coincide with your goals and how your body is responding.

Frequency: Recovery between training sessions is important to maximize progress and minimize injuries. Provide your body ample time to recuperate between workouts. It is my professional opinion that directly targeted core training should be executed no more than three to four times a week. Some experts disagree with this statement and believe that core training can be performed every day.

Here is why I feel that directly targeted core training should be three to four days a week maximum. The muscles of the spine, hips and inner thighs are major movers. They are used directly and indirectly during every core exercise as either the primary working muscles, assisting muscles or stabilizers. These muscles require more rest time to recuperate and grow than the abdominal muscles. Give the body the rest time it requires to function optimally to prevent overtraining and overuse injuries.

Precautions: Check with your medical professional before starting an exercise routine. These workouts are suggestions and examples. Stop immediately and proceed to another exercise if a specific exercise or workout does not feel right, elicits symptoms or causes illness.

Conclusion: Challenge yourself with solid core training principles. Develop a stronger core to increase athletic performance and lower injury risk.

Throughout this article series I’ve described numerous core strengthening exercises. Put all this information together and utilize training strategies which increase core strength. Use the information I’ve provided to formulate a sound training routine. Maintain a detailed training journal to record and map your progress. Analyze your recorded information to continuously modify your workout program to optimize results. Train hard, build core strength, develop core endurance, stabilize your spine and improve your running personal records with the information provided in my article series “Core Training for Runners.”

Dr_Donald_A_Ozello_thumb_medium150_Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC is the owner and treating doctor at Championship Chiropractic. 8871 W. Flamingo Rd, Suite #202, Las Vegas, NV 89147.  His web address is He can be contacted at (702) 286-9040 and

Dr. Donald A. Ozello’s mission is to educate and inspire others to live healthier, fitter, more functional lives.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC is the author of the book “Running: Maximize Performance & Minimize Injuries: A Chiropractor’s Guide to Minimizing the Potential for Running Injuries.” He writes a weekly health, fitness and nutrition column for The Las Vegas Informer. He is published in OnFitness and He has educational health, fitness and nutritional videos on Informer TV, and YouTube.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC proudly handles Standard Process Supplements and Foot Levelers Orthotics.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC is an award-winning public speaker. He has spoken to numerous groups on the importance of health, fitness, exercise, ergonomics, nutrition and injury prevention.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC is a fitness enthusiast. Functional kettlebell training, running and bike riding are his favorite types of exercise.

Before pursuing his career in Chiropractic, Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC served in the United States Navy aboard the USS Bremerton, SSN 698.

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