Your core doesn’t only include your abs—your back and glutes also play a major role in midsection stability. That means you need moves beyond sit-ups and crunches to target all of your core muscles and get the most out of your workout.

The good news is you don’t need a ton of time to fire up every muscle of your core. What you do need? This six-minute circuit and Runner’s World run coach and certified strength coach, Jess Movold, as well as Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., Men’s Health fitness director, to guide you through. This circuit offers a glimpse into the new Runner’s World and Men’s Health collaboration, called 20-Minute Functional Core, on the All Out Studio app. This program features four routines, all focused on increasing your core strength. And you get free access to the app and workouts when you sign up for a Runner’s World+ premium membership.

As you work through this quick circuit, you won’t only target those abs—you’ll get a full-body burn. As Samuel explains, the renegade row fires up your biceps and back, while the squat variation lights up your quads and glutes.

The biggest benefit of these exercises is they work anti-rotation, meaning your core has to fight off any side-to-side movement. This is exactly what you want your core to do on the run, too. As you move forward, you need your midsection to keep you stable and resisting rotation that can steal your power and efficiency, and therefore, your speed.

How to use this list: Perform each exercise below for the amount of time stated. Rest for 20 seconds between exercises. Repeat the entire circuit for 2 rounds—more if you have extra time to sweat!

Coach Jess and Samuel demonstrate the exercises in the video above so you can learn the proper form. You will need a set of dumbbells.

Offset Squat

Why it works: While you might think of a squat as a lower-body move, adding a weight to just one side of the body means you add that anti-rotation element. Your core has to switch on to stop rotation. Plus, the squat itself targets the glutes—an important muscle group for pelvic stabilization and power on the run.

How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly out. Hold a dumbbell in left hand, elbow bent, racked at shoulder height. Send hips down and back to lower into the squat. Pause, then drive through feet to stand back up. Repeat for 40 seconds. Rest for 20 seconds. Then repeat for 40 seconds with the weight in right hand.

Renegade Row

Why it works: This exercise also brings in an anti-rotation element, while working the deep core muscles (like the transverse abdominis that wraps around your torso like a corset and protects your spine when you’re on the move) and the back (crucial for strong posture). You also get an added bonus of shoulder stability.

How to do it: Start in a high plank position, each hand on a dumbbell, shoulders over wrists, forming a straight line from head to heels. Place feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull right dumbbell up to ribcage, elbow staying close to side. Then return it back to plank. Repeat on left side. Continue alternating for 40 seconds. Keep hips as steady as possible.

Headshot of Mallory Creveling

Deputy Editor, Health & Fitness

Mallory Creveling, an ACE-certified personal trainer and RRCA-certified run coach, joined the Runner's World and Bicycling team in August 2021. She has more than a decade of experience covering fitness, health, and nutrition. As a freelance writer, her work appeared in Women's Health, Self, Men's Journal, Reader's Digest, and more. She has also held staff editorial positions at Family Circle and Shape magazines, as well as A former New Yorker/Brooklynite, she's now based in Easton, PA.

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