Core & Balance Training for Runners


In this week’s new video, I demonstrate and discuss two great exercises for training core strength and balance in runners.

Not a crunch, plank or wobble board in sight!

Let me know how you get on in the comments below ๐Ÿ™‚

About The Author 

James has an academic background in Sport Rehabilitation and a special interest in Applied Biomechanics. He currently coaches a large number of Runners and Triathletes across all levels of ability and performance. He's grown a strong reputation for enabling athletes to improve their running performance and overcome running injuries through improving their Running Technique and developing Running Specific Strength.



  • I saw this and the glute one, how many times a week should you do both of these or should they be al;alternate weeks?

    • Hi Kelly,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      If you took the exercises from the Glute video and this one and put them all together you’d have a great little routine to do 3-4 times weekly.

      I hope this helps.



  • Good stuff as always James. Will share with the Team.
    Paul King (Team Bath AC)

    • Thanks Paul!

      You reminded me, I do need to get across to the South West soon for more workshops ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Fab video, makes a lot of sense! (as do all your videos!) Are there any adaptions/progressions you would make for trail running?

    • Thanks Ceri ๐Ÿ™‚

      I find that trail, x-country and fell running all demand more of the hip and ankle stabilising muscles in general. On a personal note, after the first off-road run in a while, my hips always let me know… You’d think I’d have learned by now!

      I sometimes like to build multidirectional hopping drills into the programmes of off-road runners, just to increase the challenge.

      Perhaps I should make a video on this…

      • Wow – thanks for a quick reply!

        A video on ankle stability for off road running would be a great help – I know quite a few of my club mates would appreciate it too!

  • Hi James – the med ball wood-chop-style core exercise looks great but I found I can feel it more in my arms, shoulders and chest and hardly anything in my core. The medicine ball I was using was 40-50% of the weight I’d use for a set of 10-12 dumbbell front-raises (adding both dumbells together). Would you suggest strengthening the arms/shoulders a bit more or using a different core exercise (or both)?

    • Hi Abby, thanks for the comment!

      I’d suggest working with a lighter med ball and focusing on increasing the speed of the chop (particularly on the way upwards), then the deceleration as it reaches the top point of the movement. It’s this acceleration-to-deceleration that is key here.

      To give some context to the video. I’m a big guy and I usually do this with a 2-4kg med ball!

      Speed of movement trumps weight of ball in this situation.

      I hope this helps.



      • That’s really helpful, thank you – I’ll give it a try with something lighter!

  • Hi James,

    Great video, what can I use as an alternative to the med ball if I don’t have one?

    Thank you

    • Thanks James ๐Ÿ™‚

      Great question. You can get the same effect using any reasonably weighted (2-4kg) object held in two hands. Stay safe, but feel free to use your imagination!



  • I just followed the link from your email to the core and balance training for runners video and there was no video link on your page?

    • Hi Helen,

      Interesting… what browser and device are you using to view the page? The embedded video should show-up just below the title on this page.

      Alternatively you can watch it on Facebook via this link.



      • Safari and a pro book mac. The FB link works, thanks

        • No problem Helen! Thanks for letting me know ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ditto, no video shown on web page. Chrome (latest) on OSX.

    • Thanks so much for letting me know!

      Just changed the video to the YouTube version. Working now?

  • I am always looking for ways to make improvements/ small gains in my running and this makes total sense. I will definitely be trying these. Thanks James. I find your posts & videos really informative

  • Thanks for the video James.
    Seems like there are very few discussions out there on downhill running and corresponding S&C specifics. In fact, sometimes is a great opportunity to gain some time advantage during the race. Perhaps could be a nice project for the upcoming videos.

    • Thanks Ivan. Nice idea re: downhill running video, including s+c etc. I like it ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Great videos James, really informative and clearly explained. Thank you! As I watched the balance exercise I wondered what the movement would look like if it was done poorly, ie with poor balance. What should we be looking out for? For example hips that drop from side to side? Perhaps some “what not to do”s would be good for future videos. But otherwise, great advice, thank you for sharing!

    • Good idea Tori! I’ll have a think about how to incorporate these ‘what to avoid’ tips into future videos ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Loving the videos , the glute activation one and this core and balance one are great
    The exercises are so suitable to everyone and can be done at home with no fuss
    Thanks james

    • Thanks Candice! I do think there’s a lot to be said for simple exercises that need minimal kit to get the job done ๐Ÿ™‚

  • You just blew my mind with this concept of balance training! I’ve never thought to use the instability of my own body to train and not necessarily creating any additional imbalance with wobble boards, BOSU, etc. I’m excited to add these to my gym routine!!

  • Great video as always. I don’t tend to do any additional exercise outside of my weekly runs, which include a mix of pace and hill workouts, long runs and recoveries. I just run. But I can feel that I’ve hit a wall with speed and it’s being hampered by physical factors, especially when I try and push a sub 4 kay and I start to catch a bit of imbalance since my left leg doesn’t work as hard or fast as the right (probably due to an ACL reconstruction a few years back). So I’m aware now of the need to complement my running with workouts.

    My question is, how would one structure these workouts around their runs? Should they just be done any day as long as you’re doing them regularly or should they be slotted in before/after workout runs or LSD runs, etc.? Is there any difference in benefit or harm?

  • Just linked to this through your FB post – both exercises are fantastic, thank you! I’m coming back from a hamstring injury and finding that I’m not ready for a wobble board, etc. on that leg, so I think this will be a huge help. Just one question – for balance exercises, do you recommend that the knee of the leg you’re standing on be straight or slightly bent?

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