Top 5 Strength Exercises for Runners


This week’s post is taken from my original blog post contributed to Fit Armadillo, a blog run by certified trainer, Catherine Basu, helping you become fit at your pace and your place! She has a whole team of trainers offering online personal training sessions via Skype. If you know someone who can’t make it to the gym or prefers at-home workouts, this site is definitely worth checking out!

Whether you just started running, signed up for a 5k or have run several marathons, strength training is an incredibly important, but often neglected component of exercise for runners.

Improving efficiency, correcting imbalances, and activating these lower body muscles will improve your race times and prevent injury.

These are all bodyweight-based exercises that you can do at home or in the gym using free weights or a resistance band.

Performing this circuit just 2-3 times a week will go a long way for your running, and might just be the missing piece for that next PR!

Form Tips for Each Strength Training Exercise:

Strength Training Exercise #1: The Bodyweight Squat

Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, extend arms out in front of you. Keeping a neutral spine, bend the hips back and come down into a squat position with knees bent. Rise back up into your starting position. That’s one rep. Be sure to keep the weight in your heels throughout the movement. This is the basis for adding weight, doing a single leg pistol squat, or even a jumping squat! Complete 8-12 reps.

Strength Training Exercise #2: Lunge Matrix: Front, Side, and Reverse Lunge

Begin by standing tall with your hands either on your hips or in position to balance yourself. Taking a step forward, lunge fully, making sure your knee stays behind your toe. Complete the lunge matrix by stepping to the side with both toes pointed forward, followed by stepping behind you to a reverse lunge. Make sure to hit both sides 3-6 times.

Strength Training Exercise #3: Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

Standing on one foot, hinge at the hip and bring your opposite leg straight back behind you. Reach forward with your arms out in front of you. Keep your back straight, your hips squared, and your torso tight. You should feel this in your hamstrings and glutes. This is a great exercise to add weight to using a dumbbell or kettlebell, and will certainly test your balance! Complete 6-10 reps on each leg.

Strength Training Exercise #4: Monster Band Walk

Wrap a theraband around your legs just above your knees, if you have one. If not, you will still benefit from using your own bodyweight. Begin in a squat position. Proceed forward, walking side to side while moving forward, always keeping one foot off the ground. You should feel this in your outer thighs (abductors). If you want to target your glutes as well, walk backward. Take 10-15 steps forward and 10-15 steps backward.

Strength Training Exercise #5: 3-Way Single Leg Scales

Standing on one foot and keeping a tall, forward stance, raise your opposite leg out in front of you and back down, followed by to the outside, and then kicking it back behind you. Think about keeping your hips square to the front and focusing on that rather than how high your leg goes. 3-Way Single Leg Scales challenge your balance while improving hip mobility and glute activation, both of which are key to balanced running. Run through the 3-way scale with each leg 6-8 times.

There you have it – the top 5 strength exercises for runners that will improve your mobility, balance, and overall strength!

Complete this circuit before or after a run, or on one of your off-days. Regardless of when, it will improve your running economy, efficiency, and help prevent injury by keeping your body in balance.

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, add weight, go for a single leg variation, or increase the number of reps.

Happy Running!

~Megan

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