5 Strength Training Exercises for Runners
Strength training has numerous health benefits, and is particularly important for runners. It helps you avoid injury, improves your strength and endurance, and adds another dimension to what your running is doing for your physique.
Strength training can also:
- strengthen bone density
- aid in weight management
- improve mental focus
- help manage chronic pain
According to research, strength training can also have a major impact on the quality of your runs. One study showed that strength training exercises improve running economy (or efficiency) in female distance runners. This means that runners who strength train will be able to run faster over the same distance, and experience less fatigue.
The Best Strength Training Moves
A well-rounded strength training routine – one that hits all of the major muscle groups – is best. But there are some strength training moves that are invaluable for runners.
We talked with Shane Allen, CPT, from PersonalTrainerFood.com, who highlighted these top five strength training exercises specifically for runners:
Great for core strength, planks can be done without any equipment.
Start in a pushup position, either on your hands or forearms.
Tighten your entire body, especially your core and glutes.
Hold this position for 60 seconds.
Do three planks per session. If you want to make things tougher, rest your arms or hands on a Swiss ball while planking.
Game for going extreme? Do small circles on the ball rather than remaining stationary.
Squats are a functional move that primarily work the legs, but also engage the core. Start with body weight squats and do three sets of 10. Once that starts getting too easy, begin adding weight.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
Begin to lower your body as far down as possible, bending your knees and pushing your hips back.
As you squat, use your glutes, abs, back, and hip flexors to control how far your back arches. Keep your chest tilted up.
Remember as you squat: Don’t let your knees extend out past your toes, keep your chest up, and focus on driving through your heels as you push up to engage your posterior chain.
- Calf Raises
Your calves can take a beating when you run. Strengthen them with calf raises. Allen suggests using a raised surface, like a box or stair, to get the greatest extension out of the move.
Stand on the edge of a raised surface so that your heels are just off the surface.
Flex your calf muscles for one second, so that your heels are raised and your toes carry all of your weight.
Lower slowly for five seconds. Push back up to the starting position and repeat.
- Glute-Hamstring Bridge
The glute-hamstring bridge will help strengthen the powerful muscles of your backside.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
Raise your hips towards the sky while squeezing your glutes and engaging your core.
Slowly lower, and repeat.
- Split Jumps
Split jumps are a dynamic move that not only engage fast-twitch muscle fibers of your lower body, but raise your heart rate as well.
Lunge deeply with one leg forward and the other back.
Explode up into a jump and switch leg positions.
Land in a lunge with the opposite foot forward.
Strength training can be fun and is a great way to mix up your workouts while reducing your risk of injury. Add this resistance workout to your weekly training schedule, aiming to get two to three sessions in each week. Try these moves without added weight first, adding resistance slowly as you go.