When you think of a quick cardio workout, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s pounding the pavement in your neighborhood, or spinning on a stationary bike while watching your favorite Netflix show.Hopefully you know by now that your cardio workout doesn’t have to be long or monotonous to be effective. You can get in a quick-yet-intense sweat session without doing a million reps of the same move. Our latest Sweat with SELF video—a 20-minute at-home cardio workout—will show you how.Led by trainers Astrid Swan and Ridge Davis, this no-equipment quick cardio workout is the second installment in a six-part cardio series. This particular workout follows a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) format, meaning you’ll alternate between bursts of work at max effort and short periods of rest. Within that format, you can expect lots of variety: There are four different circuits featuring 11 dynamic moves so you most definitely won’t get bored (crab walks and plank army crawls, anyone?).Though this workout is primarily cardio-centric, it also delivers a boost of strengthening, particularly for your core, butt, legs, and shoulders.So if you’re ready to get breathless, fire up your muscles, and bust out of your boring cardio rut, grab a mat and a small towel and follow along with the video below. Or, if you prefer to move at your own pace, keep scrolling for detailed workout directions and GIFs of each exercise.Workout DirectionsThere are four circuits.Complete the first circuit 3 times. The first round is a warm-up, then you’ll pick up the pace. Take 5 seconds to transition between moves, and another 20 seconds between each round. After you’ve completed three rounds, rest 30-45 seconds before moving onto circuit 2.Complete the second circuit 3 times. The first round is a warm-up, then you’ll pick up the pace. Take 5 seconds to transition between moves, and another 20 seconds between each round. After you’ve completed three rounds, rest 30-45 seconds before moving onto circuit 3.Complete the third circuit 2 times. Take 5 seconds to transition between moves, and another 20 seconds between each round. After you’ve completed 3 rounds, rest 30-45 seconds before moving onto circuit 4.Complete the fourth circuit 2 times. Rest 20 seconds between rounds.WorkoutCircuit 1Straight Leg Kick x 30 secondsButt Kicker x 30 secondsSumo Squat x 20 secondsPlank Crawl x 20 secondsRest 20 seconds, then repeat the circuit 2 more times.Circuit 2Army Crawl Plank x 30 secondsKneeling Glutes Hinge x 30 secondsKneel-to-Stand Squat x 30 secondsRest 20 seconds, then repeat the circuit 2 more times.Circuit 3Mini Hop-to-Quick Twist x 20 seconds (alternating sides)Mini Hop-to-Lunge x 20 seconds (alternating sides)Rest 20 seconds, then repeat the circuit once more.Circuit 4Triceps Dip x 15 secondsCrab Walk x 15 secondsRest 20 seconds, then repeat the circuit once more.The Exercises
For many people, back strength likely isn’t a top fitness priority. But intentionally working this area can pay big dividends—and that’s where this resistance band back workout comes in.People tend to neglect their back muscles because, well, they’re in the back, ACE-certified personal trainer Sivan Fagan, C.P.T., owner of Strong With Sivan, tells SELF. Instead, she says, people tend to focus more on their chest and biceps when thinking of upper-body muscles to target.Working your back muscles is super important though, both for everyday life and for strength training. Think about your posture, for instance. Taking the time to work on your back strength can help improve your posture, since optimal posture requires muscular strength and endurance across multiple muscles on your backside. This includes your rhomboids (an upper back muscle that connects your shoulder blades to your rib cage), rotator cuff (a group of muscles that help you lift and rotate your arm), mid to lower trapezius (the muscles across the back of your neck and upper back), and erector spinae (a set of muscles in your lower back).When these muscles are strong enough, they can help counteract the forward shoulder hunch many people experience, especially when they spend a lot of time sitting. Keep in mind, though, ideal posture isn’t about getting yourself locked into one “perfect” position for hours—it’s also about allowing yourself time to move and change positions throughout the day, says Fagan.This resistance band back workout will help you strengthen these all-important posterior-chain muscles. Just make sure you focus on your mind muscle connection throughout the moves, says Fagan. With mind-muscle connection, you focus on engaging the muscles that should be working when you do a certain movement, rather than allowing other muscles to swoop in and take over. For example, when you’re doing a row, you’d want to focus on retracting your rhomboids instead of powering the movement with your arms. Good mind-muscle connection will help the exercises be as safe and effective as possible, and bands really help with the process.Another added bonus of the resistance band? You can pretty much do it anywhere. Resistance bands are super portable and convenient, which makes them good choices for traveling workouts or outdoor workouts—pretty much wherever you don’t want to lug your dumbbells. And because resistance bands keep constant tension on your muscles, you’ll experience a slightly different challenge compared to free weights.Feeling ready to fire up your back muscles and better your posture in the process? Keep scrolling for a four-move resistance band back workout created by Fagan that may just become a new staple in your routine.The WorkoutWhat you need: An exercise mat for comfort, and a resistance band. (You can use looped bands or ones with handles, whichever you prefer.) If you can, have several resistance bands of varying strengths on hand so you can switch from exercise to exercise as needed. Fagan suggests a light resistance band for the first move, a medium-strength resistance band for the second move, and a heavy resistance band for the third and fourth moves.ExercisesSuperset 1Pull-apartBow and arrowSuperset 2Cuff pivotStaggered stance rowDirectionsFor Superset 1, perform 10 reps of the pull-apart and 10-15 reps per side of the bow and arrow. Try not to rest between exercises, though you should take some time if you feel your form beginning to falter. Complete three rounds total. Rest for 2-3 minutes at the end of Superset 1.For Superset 2, perform 10-12 reps per side of the cuff pivot and 8-12 reps per side of the staggered stance row. Try not to rest between exercises. Complete three rounds total.A band we like:Perform Better SuperbandDemoing the moves below are Hejira Nitoto (GIF 1), a mom of six and a certified personal trainer and fitness apparel-line owner based in Los Angeles and Saneeta Harris (GIFs 2-4), a blogger, SFG Level 1 certified kettlebell trainer, and the founder of @NaturalHairGirlsWhoLift.
Tired of planks, crunches, and sit-ups? Consider adding the bear crawl exercise to your list of go-to core moves. The bear crawl is an effective-yet-underrated movement that can seriously improve your core strength while delivering a host of other benefits, too.You don’t need any equipment to do the bear crawl, which makes it a great choice for at-home workouts. And it can be easily modified to different fitness levels, meaning exercisers of all abilities can find value from slotting in the bear crawl to their regular routine.If you’re not familiar with the bear crawl exercise, though, there are certain things you should know about it before you get started. And that’s where this article comes in.With the help of NASM-certified personal trainer Keith Hodges, C.P.T., founder of Mind in Muscle Coaching in Los Angeles, we break down which muscles the bear crawl exercise hits, what makes the bear crawl such an effective core move, and some bear crawl exercise benefits you may want to know about. We also dig into how to stay safe while doing it, and how to incorporate bear crawls into your workout.Ready to become a bear crawl expert and perhaps discover your new favorite bodyweight exercise you can do at home? Keep scrolling for everything you need to know.What does the bear crawl exercise do?The bear crawl activates your core as well as your shoulders, quads, back, and hips, says Hodges, who considers it one of his favorite exercises. Because you’re moving in an all-fours position as you perform the bear crawl, your muscles really have to fire in order to keep your spine, hips, and shoulders stabilized.Is the bear crawl a core exercise?The bear crawl is most definitely a core exercise. It works the entire unit of your core, says Hodges. That includes your rectus abdominis (what you may think of as your “abs,” or the muscles that run vertically across your abdomen), obliques (muscles on the sides of your torso) and transverse abdominis (deepest core muscle that wraps around your spine and sides), as well as the small muscles that stabilize your spine.Like we mentioned, the bear crawl works muscles outside the core, too. So even though it’s first and foremost a core exercise, it can also help strengthen and stabilize other areas of your body.Are bear crawls effective?There are a lot of bear crawl exercise benefits. Like we mentioned above, bear crawls are an effective core exercise. But they’re also good for working your coordination, boosting shoulder strength and stability, and in some cases even getting a dose of cardio.In the bear crawl position, your palms and toes and the only points of contact with the ground. You need strong core activation to help your body move and stay stable on that narrow base of support; without a strong core, you would collapse.Moreover, because of the intricate movement pattern of the bear crawl that involves simultaneously moving opposite limbs, the bear crawl is effective at challenging your coordination. To bump up the coordination intensity, try bear crawling laterally, suggests Hodges.
We get it: Core training can be intimidating, since there are a bunch of core muscles and even more core exercises to work them. The antidote? A core strength workout for beginners with just four moves that will teach you how to fire up your midsection with simple-yet-effective exercises.First though, let’s talk about what your core even is. Your core does include your rectus abdominis, the muscles which run vertically along the front of your abdomen, but it also is comprised of lots of other muscles too, like your obliques (the muscles on the sides of your torso), and transverse abdominis (the deepest core muscles that sit beneath your obliques), as well as your glutes, pelvic floor, and the muscles that stabilize your spine and hips.Now, why does core strength even matter? For one, your core helps transfer power from your lower half to your upper half and vice-versa, NASM-certified personal trainer Alicia Jamison, C.P.T., trainer at Bodyspace Fitness in New York City, tells SELF. The stronger your core, the more power can be shared and the better you can perform movements.Say, for example, you do a push-up. A strong core will transfer the power your upper body generates from pushing up off the ground into your hips. As a result, your lower body will be in ideal positioning—i.e. strong and elevated, instead of sagging towards the floor. That means less energy leak and a more efficient exercise.Another important job of your core is providing a stable foundation for movements. Jamison gives the analogy of squatting on sand versus squatting on concrete. You’re going to feel stronger and more stable squatting in the latter scenario, and that’s the difference a strong core can make.Your core also plays a vital role in protecting your spine from injury, since your core surrounds your spine “like a corset,” says Jamison. The stronger your core muscles, the more protection your spine has, both when performing movements at the gym and everyday tasks. Moreover, a strong core simply helps you move about day-to-day life with efficiency and ease, whether you’re power walking to work, hauling groceries to your fifth-floor walk-up, or lifting a squirming toddler.OK, so how do you go about engaging and ultimately strengthening these core muscles? There are two main ways: through movement, or dynamic exercises, and anti-movement. In dynamic exercises, your core engages as it moves, like in a crunch. With anti-movement exercises, your core engages to resists motion, like in a plank. You can think of anti-movement exercises as your “baseline core moves,” says Jamison. They are a great choice for beginners since they come with a lower risk of injury than dynamic movements, says Jamison.With that in mind, Jamison created the following 12-minute core strength workout for beginners. It’s just four bodyweight moves—three of which are anti-movement and one (the Russian twist) that is a low-risk dynamic movement. Two of the moves—deadbug and leg lift—are performed on your back, which Jamison says is the safest position to perform core work. This position can also help beginners more easily engage their midsection since the floor can serve as a helpful cue: You know your core is engaged if your low back stays pressed into the ground.Feeling ready to seriously fire up your core? Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about a safe and effective core strength workout for beginners.The WorkoutWhat you need: An exercise mat for comfort.ExercisesDeadbugForearm side plank hip dipLeg liftRussian twistDirectionsDo each exercise for 30 seconds, then rest 30 seconds before moving onto the next exercise. Do the entire circuit 3 times total. Try not to take any extra rest in between rounds. (Of course, if you feel your form beginning to falter, you should rest as needed.)
There are plenty of ways to get a HIIT cardio workout without lacing up for a run or busting out a ton of jumping movements. One prime hack: Incorporating single-leg, or unilateral, exercises, which is the exact focus of this week’s Sweat with SELF video.Why are single-leg exercises a good choice for sweaty cardio? Well, they require you to rely on the strength of just one leg to perform a movement, which means they often feel more intense than bilateral moves (moves done with both legs). And, because single-leg work demands balance, your core has to fire more, too, in order to keep you stable and resist bending or rotating, as SELF previously reported. That means even lower-body moves can take on more of a core focus when you train them unilaterally.Yet another perk of single-leg work is that it can help you identify, and ultimately correct, any imbalances you have on one side or the other. That, in turn, can increase your performance at the gym while decreasing your risk of injury.In short, there’s a lot to love about single-leg work, and you can reap all those benefits in our newest Sweat with SELF video. This 20-minute HIIT cardio workout, led by trainers Astrid Swan and Ridge Davis, is the third installment in a six-part cardio series. Slightly more challenging than the previous two videos, this workout combines plenty of unilateral exercises (think: single-leg planks, single-leg touchdowns, and drop lunge kicks) with doses of upper-body work, too. The result: You get cardio plus balance work plus total-body strengthening—a win-win-win.So if you’re ready for a super efficient and effective HIIT cardio workout, grab a mat and follow along with the video below. Or, if you prefer to move at your own pace, keep scrolling for detailed workout directions and GIFs of each exercise.Workout DirectionsStart with the warm-up. Do 5 reps of each move, repeating on each side. After the warm-up, rest 20 seconds before moving onto circuit 1 (right side).Do each move in circuit 1 (right side) for the designated number of reps. After finishing circuit 1 (right side), rest for 20 seconds, then move onto circuit 1 (left side).Do each move in circuit 1 (left side) for the designated number of reps. After finishing circuit 1 (left side), rest for 60 seconds, then move onto circuit 2.Complete circuit 2 by doing five reps of each move. Complete circuit 2 three times, resting 15 seconds in between each round. After finishing circuit 2, rest for 60 seconds, then move onto circuit 3.Complete circuit 3 by doing the designated number of reps for each move. Complete circuit 3 three times, resting 45 seconds in between each round.WorkoutWarm UpSingle-Leg Touchdown x 5 reps (repeat on each side)Drop-Lunge Kick x 5 reps (repeat on each side)Circuit 1 (Left side only)Single-Leg Touchdown x 5 repsDrop-Lunge Kick x 5 repsSingle-Leg Plank x 3 repsMountain Climber to Plank Jack x 3 repsCircuit 1 (Right side only)Single-Leg Touchdown x 5 repsDrop-Lunge Kick x 5 repsSingle-Leg Plank x 3 repsMountain Climber to Plank Jack x 3 repsCircuit 2Broad Jump x 5 repsRDL to Hop x 5 reps (repeat on each side)Repeat the circuit 2 more times for a total of 3 rounds, resting 15 seconds between rounds.Circuit 3Small Ice Skater x 15 repsIce Skater to Shuffle x 5 reps (repeat on each side)Repeat the circuit 2 more times for a total of 3 rounds, resting 45 seconds in between rounds.The Exercises
We get it: An upper-body workout for runners probably sounds a bit, uh, pointless. After all, running is a leg-centric sport, so training other muscles won’t do a whole lot of good…right?While this is a belief held by a lot of runners, it’s actually not true: Running is a full-body activity, which means upper body-strength does matter. And there are several reasons why.“Having a strong upper body is really about improving your efficiency,” Kaila DeRienzo, NASM-certified personal trainer and RRCA-certified run coach in Orlando, tells SELF. Think of your torso and upper body as your base of support when running—weakness in these areas can negatively impact your stability, control, and balance while striding, says DeRienzo.It can also contribute to pain while running, she adds. Say, for example, your shoulders hunch forward when you get tired on a long run, and you don’t have the strength in your back muscles to pull them back into the correct position—down and back. This hunching could trigger pain in your shoulders, back, or elsewhere. But if those upper-body muscles are strong enough to help you maintain proper posture and running form, that can help reduce your chances of feeling pain when you get fatigued.There’s a performance reason for runners to train their upper body, too. A strong upper body can also improve your arm drive. Running with a good arm drive—where your elbows move forward and back parallel to your body instead of swinging side to side across your torso—expends less energy. The result? You run more efficiently, and aren’t wasting precious energy in movement that’s actually hindering you.Lastly, upper body strength is “absolutely vital” for running fast, says DeRienzo, since a good arm drive can be an important source of power propelling your body forward.With these benefits in mind, DeRienzo recommends runners schedule upper-body strength work one to three days a week. If you’re doing more than one session a week, make sure to schedule at least 48 hours in between them so that your muscles have enough time to recover.As for which specific upper-body muscles runners should focus on? The chest, back, and shoulders are key, says DeRienzo. These muscles are crucial for good posture and contribute to core stability (which yes, runners should prioritize, too). It’s also a good idea to work the triceps and biceps, DeRienzo adds, since these muscles are important for a strong arm drive.In the five-move dumbbell workout below, which DeRienzo created for SELF, you’ll target all of those upper body muscles and also get a solid dose of core work. Before jumping into this routine, do a five-minute warm-up to get your heart rate up and activate your muscles—moves like chest opening stretches, shoulder rolls, high knees, and jumping jacks can do the trick.So, runners: Are you ready to fire up your upper body and improve your running efficiency in the process? Keep scrolling for a simple-yet-effective upper-body workout for runners that might just become the new staple in your fitness routine.The WorkoutWhat you need: An exercise mat for comfort, and a set of dumbbells. You may want to use two sets of dumbbells for this workout—a heavier set for the moves that target your chest and back, and a lighter set for those that hit your shoulders and arms.ExercisesZ pressPulloverCross-body single-arm curlAlternating single-arm chest pressTriceps kickback in plankDirectionsDo 8-12 reps of each exercise. Rest 30 seconds to 1 minute, then move onto the next exercise. Do the entire circuit 3 times, resting 1 minute in between rounds.Demoing the moves below are Nathalie Huerta (GIFs 1-2), coach at The Queer Gym in Oakland; Denise Harris (GIFs 2 and 5), a NASM-certified personal trainer and Pilates instructor based in New York City; and Harlan Kellaway (GIF 4), a trans bodybuilder based in Queens.
There’s a lot to love about cardio training. It can help reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular functioning while also delivering a rush of endorphins, as SELF previously reported.The best part, though? You don’t need to do a complicated or intense workout to reap these benefits. In fact, exercisers of all levels can get their best cardio workout at home by doing traditional bodyweight movements at home—no boot camp classes or running required. Just check out this week’s Sweat With SELF workout for proof.Led by trainers Astrid Swan and Ridge Davis, this 20-minute, no-equipment routine is the first installment in a six-part cardio series. This particular workout follows a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) format, meaning you’ll alternate between bursts of work at max effort and short periods of rest. Along the way you’ll do simple yet effective moves like jumping jacks, plank shoulder taps, and plank walks. If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry: There are lots of modification options that will help you adjust this workout to your fitness level.So if you’re ready for the best cardio workout at home, grab a mat and follow along with the video below. Or, if you prefer to move at your own pace, keep scrolling for detailed workout directions and GIFs of each exercise.Workout DirectionsYou’ll do this circuit 6 times. The first time is a warm-up, then you’ll pick up the pace for the next 5 rounds.In the warm-up round, do every exercise for the designated time, taking 10 to 15 seconds to transition between moves. For the next 5 rounds, do every exercise for the designated time and then move on to the next exercise in the sequence, resting as little as possible. Rest about 30 seconds between rounds.Note: You’ll only do the thoracic opener in the first round.WorkoutJumping Jack x 20 secondsSeal Jack x 20 secondsArm Circle Jack x 20 secondsPlank Shoulder Tap x 30 secondsDownward Dog to Plank Reach x 30 secondsPlank Walk x 30 secondsThoracic Opener x 20 seconds (repeat on each side; done in the first round only)*Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the circuit 5 more times.The Exercises
Cycling can be more than a fun childhood pastime or an eco-friendly way to run errands. In fact, there are tons of benefits of cycling that may just inspire you to add it to your workout routine.One big perk of riding? Cycling is a really versatile form of exercise that can be scaled to different fitness levels, lifestyles, and goals. You can, for example, cycle indoors on a stationary bike, either in a group class or solo in your own home. Or you can pedal outside on a moving bike. You can go all-out for an intense Tabata session, or you can pull back, pedal easy, and let the great outdoors take over as the star of the show.However you choose to ride, know that you’ll be doing your body—and your mind—some serious good.Curious about all that bikes have to offer? Read on for everything you need to know on the benefits of cycling, plus expert tips for beginners on how to start riding.What kind of exercise is cycling?If you’re looking to add cycling into your routine, you may be wondering what type of exercise it is considered. The answer: Cardio. Stellar cardio.Cycling is a “really, really great cardiovascular exercise,” Nikki Pebbles, NYC-based certified personal trainer and certified Schwinn cycling instructor, tells SELF. That’s because it involves multiple large muscle groups working together simultaneously, which increases the demand on your heart and thus makes you breathless.While cycling is primarily cardio exercise, it can also help strengthen your core and lower body, especially if you pedal with lots of resistance. In that sense, cycling can be a “hybrid” of cardio and strength work, Natalie Qayed, NASM-certified personal trainer and owner/master instructor at Cycle Haus Nashville, tells SELF.That said, cycling isn’t the most effective way to build strength, so if that’s a goal of yours, you should also pencil in dedicated weight training sessions off the bike.What’s the difference between indoor and outdoor cycling?Besides the location, of course? Both indoor and outdoor cycling offer a host of physical and mental benefits (which we’ll get into in just a minute). But there are some pretty big differences between the two. If you’re new to riding, indoor cycling may be a better way to get started on the bike, says Pebbles.Indoor cycling tends to be less intimidating than outdoor cycling since there are fewer elements to contend with. On a stationary indoor bike, you don’t have to worry about weather, traffic, or potholes in the road, says Pebbles. Instead, you can focus your full attention on maintaining good form and giving 100% effort.Another plus of indoor cycling is that it gives you more control over exactly how hard your workout is. On a stationary bike, you can increase or decrease the resistance at any time (usually with a quick turn of the resistance knob), whereas on a moving bike, you are at the mercy of the surrounding terrain. Also, on a stationary bike, you can incorporate light weights and choreographed dance moves—popular elements in many group cycling classes that may make the workout feel more fun. (Fair warning though: Some experts, including Pebbles, don’t recommend combining cycling and upper-body strength moves—here’s why.)Of course, there are some advantages to outdoor cycling. A big one is that you can get fresh air, sunlight, and nature, all of which make you feel fantastic. And it can also function as transportation, so you can cross off your workout and your commute at the same time. Still, outdoor cycling, especially if you’re pedaling along a busy road, is inherently riskier and oftentimes doesn’t come with the specialized instruction of an indoor cycling class. That doesn’t mean to avoid it, though! If you’re looking to get into outdoor riding, try finding a cycling group in your area so that you can learn from more experienced riders. Check out USA Cycling’s club search tool to learn about groups near you.
Stabilizers are the small muscles that help hold your muscles and joints still when you do certain movements. And this week’s Sweat with SELF video—a 20-minute bodyweight workout—hones in on the stabilizers in your core.This core stability workout, led by athletic trainer Liz Letchford, Ph.D., A.T.C., and coach Paul Wright, is the final installment of a six-part series dedicated to helping you build optimal core strength. Because this workout references skills practiced in the first part of this series, you may want to watch the other videos before you do this routine, particularly the previous video about core stability. (Check out the other five videos here.)Now, why are core stabilizers important? For one, they help hold your torso in place. They also help you resist rotating, leaning to the side, or flexing when you’re doing everything from lifting to running to simply bending to the side or sitting upright with proper posture, as SELF previously reported.The transverse abdominis, a deep core muscle that wraps around your sides and spine, is “an intrinsic core stabilizer,” Cori Lefkowith, an Orange County, California–based personal trainer previously told SELF. That means it “helps stabilize your core and spine to help your body function correctly.”Having a stabilized spine is important as it translates to injury prevention at the gym—particularly when you’re doing big, compound lifts like squats and deadlifts. It also helps in everyday life, like when you’re hoisting a bag of groceries or picking up something off the floor, as SELF previously reported.What’s more, core stability is the foundation for many athletic movements, as NSCA-certified personal trainer Renee Peel previously told SELF. By improving your core stability, you can in turn improve your ability to move efficiently and effectively in a lot of scenarios.In sum, it’s worth the time it takes to strengthen your core stabilizers. And with this simple-yet-effective workout, you can get the job done.So if you’re ready for this core stability workout, grab a mat and follow along with the video below. Or, if you prefer to move at your own pace, keep scrolling for detailed workout directions and GIFs of each exercise.Workout DirectionsStart with the dynamic warm-up.After the warm-up, rest for 30 seconds. Next, do the workout. Do each exercise for the designated time, taking 10–15 seconds to transition between moves. Repeat the workout 2 more times, resting 30 seconds between each round.Dynamic Warm-UpDownward Dog to Plank x 60 secondsWorkoutBird Dog x 60 secondsHollow Body Hold x 60 secondsBear Crawl x 60 secondsPlank to Press x 60 secondsSingle-Leg Deadlift x 60 seconds (repeat on each side)*Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the circuit 2 more times.The Exercises
Strong legs are (obviously) important for running. But so is the entire midsection of your body—which is why we have a great core workout for runners that you can easily add to your routine.First though, let’s get clear on what we mean by “core.” While you may think of “core” as simply your abs, there are also a bunch of other muscles involved, too.Your core is “all of the muscles that control your torso,” certified strength and conditioning specialist Janet Hamilton, C.S.C.S., an exercise physiologist and running coach with Running Strong in Atlanta, tells SELF. This includes your rectus abdominis (which run vertically along the front of your abdomen), obliques (muscles on the sides of your torso), and transverse abdominis (the deepest core muscles that sits beneath your obliques) as well as your glutes, pelvic floor, and the muscles that stabilize your spine and hips.When it comes to running, your core has two big jobs. The first is reducing your injury risk. And the second is improving performance.On the injury front, a strong core may help reduce your chances of common runner ailments, like patellofemoral syndrome (often called runner’s knee), Iliotibial band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and stress fractures, says Hamilton. That’s because movement in one part of your body can affect movement in another area. Say, for example, your foot rolls too far inward as you run (an issue known as overpronation). That excess motion can travel upward to your knees and potentially overstress the knee joint.But, if you have strong enough hips—which, as we mentioned above, are actually part of your core—then they can absorb some of that force and reduce your risk of knee injury.A strong core can also help you run better, since the power that your legs generate from running needs to be transmitted through your core. The stronger your core is, the more effectively that power will be transmitted, and the more efficiently you’ll be able to propel yourself forward.“A good strong core is vital to performance,” says Hamilton.Moreover, the base of your power as a runner is your glutes (yep, which are also part of your core), she says. So by improving your glute strength, you can in turn improve your power as a runner. That’s why when you’re thinking of a solid core workout for runners, you shouldn’t think only about traditional abs exercises—moves that strengthen your glutes are also key.In this core workout for runners, which was created by Hamilton, you’ll work your glutes as well as your hips, obliques, abs, and back. Because you’ll ease into this routine, you don’t need a specific warm-up beforehand. But if you’d like, feel free to do some gentle movement, like walking, says Hamilton.As for when and how often runners should pencil in core work like this, well, there’s no set guidance. However, as a general rule of thumb, Hamilton suggests strength training two to three times a week. This can either be on days when you’re not running at all, or days when you have just an easy run planned.Feeling ready to fire up your core and improve your running in the process? Keep scrolling for a core workout for runners you’ll want to come back to each week.The WorkoutWhat you need: An exercise mat for comfort.ExercisesForearm plankSide plankGlute bridgeBird dogSpeed skaterDirectionsPerform each exercise for the designated time or number of reps, then move onto the next exercise, resting as prescribed. Do the entire sequence 1 or 2 times.Demoing the moves below are Nikki Pebbles (GIFs 1 and 3), a New York City–based fitness instructor; Crystal Williams (GIF 2), a group fitness instructor and trainer who teaches at residential and commercial gyms across New York City; Rachel Denis (GIF 4), a powerlifter who competes with USA Powerlifting and holds multiple New York State powerlifting records; and Amanda Wheeler (GIF 5), a certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-founder of Formation Strength.