Research continues to show the value of strength training for runners in terms of better form, greater speed and more muscular endurance, as well as reduced risk of injuries. Here are a few great exercise options to get you started!
Many dedicated runners would admit that they prefer running over any other form of exercise, and that it can be a struggle for them to hit the gym or make time for strength training. They know that they should be doing it, but when time is tight, they’d rather log miles.
The good news is that runners don’t need a lot of fancy equipment – or even a health club membership necessarily – to perform traditional strength training exercises. With just a few dumbbells, a stability ball and a mat, strength training can happen at home or when traveling. Here are a few of the most commonly recommended strength training exercises for runners.
Strength Training for Runners
- Planks – for core strength and stability
- Squats – using body weight or holding dumbbells to strengthen quads, glutes and hamstrings
- Lunges with overhead press – using weights to challenge quads, glutes, hamstrings, core, shoulders, triceps and balance
- Single-leg deadlifts – holding weights, to strengthen glutes, hamstrings and lower back and build balance
- Lateral lunges – holding weights, works the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes
- Push-ups – targets chest, shoulders, triceps and core
- Side planks with hip abduction – emphasizes core stability and strength, works abductors
- Back extensions on stability ball – strengthens erector spinae and lower back
- Bridges on stability ball – challenges glutes and hips
- Crunches and oblique crunches on stability ball – works rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques
You can check popular running websites or ask a local trainer for guidance on properly performing these exercises. For best results, runners should perform strength training at least twice per week – on off days from running or post-run. Recommendations vary, but a good guideline is performing 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions, with enough weight to fatigue the muscles at the end of each set.
The important thing is to include some strength training regularly for better fitness and stronger running. And remember to stretch all the major muscle groups as well after running and strength training to maintain range of motion and help minimize stiffness.