Does Trail Running Work Your Abs? | Hikers University

We all know that trail running has several benefits for our overall health. However, trail running works wonders for your health while working your abs.

Knowing which fitness regime can help you get it is critical if you want to have visible abs. If you go trail running regularly, knowing what you need to do to see visible differences in your ab area is critical.

Trail running is an excellent approach to strengthening your abs. Trail running is about stability since the body uses its core muscles to maintain stability as you walk across a trail's rugged surface. Each step you take works and strengthens the core muscles, allowing you to define your abs.

In this guide, I will walk you through how trail running can help you get those abs you have been dreaming about. I'll also go over some of the benefits of trail running and provide some exclusive tips for targeting your abs even more while trail running.

As a veteran trail runner and fitness enthusiast, I've observed noticeable changes in my core area due to trail running and can assist you in learning how to work your abs through trail running. 

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How Does Trail Running Help Work The Abs?

The more rugged and high-elevation paths you hike, the more your core muscles will be challenged. When you walk at a high elevation, your body's muscles, such as the upper back and biceps, work hard to keep you stable.

Trail running also strengthens your core muscles, which you need to do if you want to develop or maintain your pre-existing abs. Here are two factors how trail running helps work your ab muscles:

  • Combining uphill hikes and downhill runs works the core muscles and lower back. Once you begin doing this daily, you will see a visible difference in your ab area in just a few days.
  • Trail running helps shed extra body fat, and when your body fat percentage falls below 12%, you will notice how your tummy is flat, and you will begin seeing visible abs.

Can I Work My Abs By Running On A Flat Surface?

Your core and lower leg muscles become stimulated when you run on a flat surface. Running is an excellent technique to lose excess body fat, which is the first step toward achieving abs. When you run uphill, your body engages more muscles from your core and legs to keep you steady, and the muscles have to work considerably harder than when you run on flat terrain.

Therefore, running on a level surface is a fantastic method to train the abs. If you combine it with other core strengthening exercises, trail running is a far more effective and faster way to work the ab muscles since it pushes them to work harder.

 How to Target the Abs during a Trail Run?

Many individuals like stopping on their trail run for a few minutes to relax and exercise. Combining workouts with trail runs is an excellent method to notice immediate results. Here are a few exercises you can do during your trail runs to actively target the core muscles and work the abs.


Want a workout that works both your core muscles and your glutes? The bird dog exercise is the way to go. This exercise helps improve your stability and develop your kinetic awareness— crucial skills for trail runners. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do the bird dog exercise.

  1. Bring the shoulder blades close while holding your shoulders and hips parallel to the ground.
  2. Elevate the right hand and left leg
  3. Stretch the back of your head and bury the chin towards your chest to look down at the ground
  4. After a little period of holding this position, lower yourself back to the starting spot


Since the dead bug is one of the best exercises for strengthening the core muscles, I've included it at the top of the list. You can use Deadbug to target the transverse abdominal muscle, the deepest layer of your abdomen.

Additionally, this exercise improves mobility and engages the multifidus muscle, the pelvic floor, and the diaphragm, which should be sufficient to convince you that you should incorporate it into your regimen. Here is a guide on how to do the dead bug exercise. 

  1. Lay on a flat surface and lift your legs to a 90-degree angle so your knees are above your hips.
  2. Extend one leg toward the floor while slowly lowering one arm toward the floor
  3. Now return to the position from which you started and perform the exact movements with your other arm and leg.
  4. Repeat this a few times


Glute bridges are a great way to strengthen your hips and glutes. However, converting this exercise into single-leg glute bridges provides ankle strength advantages and improves lower leg stability, allowing you to take longer trails. You will see a noticeable change in your abs in a short time when you can take longer trails. Here is a step-by-step guide on perfecting glute bridges:

  1. Your knees should be bent, and your feet must be flat, now lie facing the ground.
  2. Keep your arms by your sides, with palms facing down
  3. Move your hips up until your hips, shoulders, and knees have formed a straight line
  4. Keep your body in this position for a few seconds, and then gently lay back on the ground

IMPORTANT TIP: Try to hold the bridge as long as possible. However, do not force your body to keep the bridge, which can lead to injuries and severe muscle pain.

 Benefits of Trail Running

  1. It exercises both your body and your mind: Trail running involves navigating rough terrain, which demands your brain and your body to be stimulated.
  2. Increased calorie burn: Running uphill is similar to a high-intensity workout that significantly strains the muscles and heart. Therefore, the body ends up burning more calories to provide the energy required for you to walk uphill steadily.
  3. Work more muscles: Many individuals do not realize that trail running is an excellent method to engage several muscles in the body. It works the hips, glutes, calves, hamstrings, and other muscles and helps tone different parts of your body.
  4. Improve your mental health: Numerous studies show that running in nature may improve your mental health and make you feel calm and relaxed. Furthermore, several studies demonstrate that being outside has therapeutic advantages for persons suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
  5. Lower chances of injuries: When you make trail running a habit, you train your body to make its way up through rough and rugged terrain efficiently. Doing so will help you avoid numerous injuries such as muscle strain and knee pain and lower the risk of falling



Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

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