Emily Sisson just broke the US women’s marathon record — here's her go-to core workout

a photo of Emily Sisson
(Image credit: Getty/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / Contributor)

On Sunday, Emily Sisson broke the U.S. women’s marathon record, finishing in second place at the Chicago Marathon. The 30-year-old runner crossed the finish line in an impressive time of 2:18:29, taking 43 seconds off the previous record of 2:19:12, set by Kiera D’Amato in January. Sisson ran an amazing race, hitting the halfway point in 1:09:26, and running a negative split of 1:09:03 in the second half of the race. 

“I was really surprised with the time and the place, and I was really, really happy. It’s been so long since I’ve run a marathon and I’m really happy to have a positive experience here,” Sisson said. 

Even if you’re not looking to set a world record, if you are looking to speed up, taking a leaf out of the training diaries of the elite is never a bad thing. Sisson undoubtedly works hard to run so quickly. But as well as putting in the miles on and off the track, she also does a lot of strength work. Along with strong leg muscles, a solid core is important if you want to run faster — the stronger your core, the more stable you will be as you run. 

Luckily, Sisson has shared a number of her go-to core exercises on her Instagram page, so if you’re looking for some of the best core exercises for runners, read on. If you are taking on 26.2 miles, check out the best carbon fiber running shoes and the best running sunglasses here. 

How does Emily Sisson build a strong core? 

As well as sharing her go-to glute exercises, Sisson has shared a simple workout of four core exercises that can be done with a long resistance band, and your body weight (check out our selection of the best resistance bands). In the caption, Sisson writes: “Everything is sped up — so make sure to go sloooow”. 

Here are the four exercises she focuses on: 

Pallof Press: 10 on each side 

The pall of press is an anti-rotation exercise — your torso has to work incredibly hard to stay steady in this move. Start by grabbing a long resistance band and looping it around something sturdy; if you’re in the gym, you can also use a cable machine here. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and at a distance from the band so that it’s taught. Squeeze your core and press your hands outwards, so your arms are extended in front of your chest, pause, then bring them back in to your starting position. Do all of your reps facing one direction, then turn around and repeat. “Don’t lock your knees, you want them slightly bent,” Sisson advises. 

Dead bugs: 10 on each side, 20 in total 

Dead bugs are one of the best exercises for working your abdominal muscles. When done correctly, a dead bug targets both the outer core muscles as well as the transverse abdominis — the deepest core muscles, which sit underneath the internal and external obliques and rectus abdominis. As it’s a stabilization exercise, dead bugs also target the spinal erectors, which help stabilize the spine and support the lower back. Read more on how to do a dead bug here. In the video, Sisson completes the dead bugs holding onto the long resistance band with her arms to add extra tension to the exercise.  

Plank with elbow tap: 10 on each side, 20 in total 

To do a plank with an elbow tap, get into a plank position — start in a press-up position, with your arms slightly wider than your shoulders and your body weight resting on your hands flat against the floor, or your forearms, depending on which variation you opt for. Think about creating a straight line from your heels to the crown of your head, engaging your core. Take one hand off the floor, and tap it to the opposite shoulder. Keep swapping sides. “Try really hard not to twist your body too much," Sisson's writes. 

Regular plank

Last, but by no means least, hold a regular plank. Sissons doesn’t write how long for, but start with 30 seconds, and build up as your core gets stronger. Here’s how long you need to hold a plank to work on your abs

Looking for more ab workout inspiration? Here’s what happened when we tried Lily James’ 600-rep ab workout, plus, check out the best ab exercises, according to Chris Hemsworth’s PT, and this intense six-minute ab workout

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.