Sprint Faster With a Stronger Core

STACK Expert Chris Costa cites a study on the value of core training for sprint performance and offers two exercises to help you reach your potential on the track.

Core strength for sprinting

Sprinters are the personification of a finely-tuned machine. Each muscle has a responsibility to operate at optimal efficiency. Although genetics play a role, sprinters can improve their efficiency and their overall potential by adding power, core stability, and strength training to their regimens. Unfortunately, of all those training modalities, core work is most frequently neglected.

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published a study on core stability and center of gravity control related to core training. The researchers found that athletes who trained their core three times a week over a six-week period adapted better to changes in instability training.[1] On the track, this means that sprinters who have strong cores can react more quickly, control their center of gravity, and generate faster times out of the blocks and down the lane. Bottom line: Improving core strength can make an almost immediate difference in performance.

To build core strength and activate muscles that counter instability, use training tools like BOSU balls and stability balls. Try these two core exercises to boost your core strength and improve your performance on the track.

Medicine Ball Toss on BOSU Ball

Muscles Worked: Rectus abdominus, external obliques, internal obliques, serratus anterior


  • Flip a BOSU ball so the dome side is facing down.
  • Stand on the flat surface of the ball with your feet about hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  • Keep your back flat.
  • Have a partner toss you a medicine ball from the right side. Pass it back to him.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, then switch sides.
Watch ATP Evolution demonstrate a variation of this exercise.

Farmer's Walk

Muscles Worked: Rectus abdominus, external obliques, internal obliques, serratus anterior


  • Set-up a pair of cones about 25 yards apart.
  • Grab a pair of heavy kettlebells.
  • Stand with your shoulders pulled back and core engaged with the kettlebells held at your sides.
  • Walk from one cone to the other while maintaining a neutral spine with your chest held tall.
  • Slowly turn around and walk back to the starting position.
Watch a demonstration of this exercise.

Core strength is an essential element for sprinters to improve their performance. With a stronger core, sprinters will have faster reaction time and better proprioception on the track—leading to faster times. By incorporating the exercises above and using tools like the stability ball and BOSU ball, sprinters can effectively engage their midsection and have their bodies performing optimally.

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[1] Romero-Franco, N. "Effects of proprioceptive training program on core stability and center of gravity control in sprinters." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 26.8 (2012): 2071-7. Web. 9 Jul. 2013. .

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock