High intensity interval training (HIIT) is popular among runners because it helps you boost your strength and speed on the roads and trails—something most everyone wants to do. Pair a HIIT workout with exercises that build your core, and you have the perfect workout circuit fit for a runner.
“A strong core is super important for all runners—strong abs can help with running form, posture, stability, balance, and preventing injury,” Amber Rees, senior curriculum lead at Barry’s in New York City and cofounder of the Race Times Predictor, tells Runner’s World. “Adding a HIIT workout to your normal strength routine is a great way to get your heart rate up, enhance your cardiovascular endurance, and build muscular strength,” she says.
The key to effectively completing any HIIT routine is to work your hardest during each interval then rest in between each exercise to allow your body to adapt. This HIIT abs workout was designed by Rees to strengthen your core muscles and get your heart pumping, and it’s great for beginner and advanced runners alike.
How to do it: Perform each exercise for 50 seconds with a 10 second rest in between each exercise. Repeat the full circuit twice.
Each move is demonstrated by Rees in the video above so you can master the proper form. An exercise mat is recommended, but not required.
Squat With Rotation
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes slightly turned out. Your spine should be neutral, shoulders back, chest open. Place both hands behind your head at a 45-degree angle. Send your hips back as if you’re sitting back into an invisible chair and keep your chest lifted. Your lower back should remain neutral. Press through your heels as you raise up, and bring your left knee toward your right elbow, twisting your torso to the right. Perform another squat, press through your heels as you raise up, then bring your right knee toward your left elbow, twisting your torso to the left. Continue alternating for 50 seconds.
Jump Squat With Rotation
Stand with feet just wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly out, clasp hands at chest for balance. Send hips back and bend at knees with chest lifted. Press through heels to explode back up, jumping in the air and immediately twisting to the right 90 degrees. You can swing your arms vertically in the opposite direction for momentum. Land softly in the center and immediately send hips back down into a squat. Repeat on left side. Continue alternating for 50 seconds.
Bear Plank Kick-Through
Start with your hands directly underneath your shoulders in the high plank position with your knees directly underneath your hips and feet flexed. Lift your knees off the ground so you’re hovering. Turn to your left, extend your right foot out and touch your toe with your left hand. Return to the center in bear plank position. Turn to your right and extend your left foot out and touch your toe with your right hand. Continue alternating for 50 seconds.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend down and place both hands on the floor shoulder-width apart. Jump back with both feet extending your knees and hips completely so you’re in the high plank position. Jump forward with both feet and stand up right. Repeat and continue for 50 seconds.
Lie faceup with your knees bent, soles of your feet together, and both arms stretched overhead, biceps by your ears. Engage your core muscles to sit up so that your shoulders are directly above your hips and your wrists are above your shoulders. Pause. Slowly return to the starting position.
Alternating Single-Leg V-Up
Lie faceup on the floor, legs extended and arms reaching above your head—biceps by your ears. Lift your left arm and right leg off the floor into a V position to meet as close together as they can. Return to starting position. Then lift your right arm and left leg off the floor into a V position to meet as close together as they can. Repeat for 50 seconds.
Lie faceup with both hands behind head, legs bent, and feet flat on floor. Lift right shoulder off mat to bring right elbow toward left knee, while extending right leg straight. Reverse to draw left elbow to right knee as you extend left leg straight. Repeat.