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NCAA champ Justyn Knight’s 5-minute core blast

This core routine only takes about 5 minutes, but your abs will be burning by the end of it

Toronto’s Justyn Knight is one of Canada’s top track athletes, and at just 24 years old, he looks to have an extremely promising future in the sport. He has already run in two world championships (2017 and 2019), he won two NCAA titles in cross-country and on the track while at Syracuse University and he owns the Canadian indoor 1,500m record, which he set earlier this year in 3:36.13. He currently lives in Charlottesville, Va., where he trains with the Reebok Boston Track Club. As an elite group, Knight and his teammates have some great strength workouts they run through each week. Here’s the crew’s go-to core routine. If you have 5 minutes free and you’re ready for a tough workout, give this a try after your next run.

Justyn Knight
Knight runs to the win at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in 2017. Photo: Michael Scott/Syracuse Athletics

Knight says he performs each of these exercises for 30 seconds before moving onto the next. While he and his teammates don’t take any breaks, you might feel like this is too many consecutive exercises not to at least incorporate a bit of rest, so do whatever feels best for you. This is the first of two core routines from Knight. He actually performs both parts in one session, but we’ve cut it in half. We’ll have Part 2 for you next week.

RELATED: Speedwork with Canadian record holder Justyn Knight


Planks are a classic core exercise. Knight starts with a regular plank for 30 seconds, then continues onto side planks on the left and right before moving into a back plank. The back plank is similar to the regular exercise, but instead of facing down, you face up, resting on your forearms as usual.



Another classic. If you’re not familiar with burpees, start in a standing position and then lower into a squat and place your hands on the floor. Kick your legs out behind you so you’re in an high plank position, then jump (or step) your legs forward, return to the squat position and jump upward, throwing your hands in the air. Repeat this until your 30 seconds are up. You can also include a pushup when you’re in plank position, but you might choose not to when you see what exercise comes next on the list.

RELATED: Canadian heptathlon champ Georgia Ellenwood’s 2-minute core routine


We promise that the routine will get a bit less predictable as it continues, but these are all classics for a reason: they work. Do pushups for 30 seconds. Don’t worry if you have to do a pushup variation on your knees to make it easier.


Again, everyone knows this one. Sit-ups for 30 seconds.


Squats are always a good way to get the legs burning. Be sure to keep your back straight and make sure your core remains engaged throughout the entire movement.



Start in a high plank position and slowly bring one knee at a time up to touch the elbow on the same side. Remember to keep your back straight.

RELATED: Post-run core work with triathlete-turned-marathoner Gwen Jorgensen


With your arms outstretched over your head, lie on your back on the floor and lift your head and shoulder blades off the ground. Once in position, slowly kick your feet the same way you might if you were swimming. It’s important to focus on keeping your lower back pressed flat to the floor. To do this, you might need to raise your legs higher.

Check back next week for part two of Knight’s core workout.

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