Strength Training for Runners 9 Best Strength Exercises for Runners (2024)

Strength Training for Runners: 9 Best Strength Exercises for Runners (2024)

Ever run out of breath and wonder if there’s more to this running game?

There totally is, and it’s called strength training.

It’s like the sidekick to your running adventures, helping you run faster, stronger, and maybe even with a cape (metaphorically, of course).

People used to think just running a lot was enough, but now we know that adding strength exercises is super helpful.

The reason why strength training for runners is because it makes your muscles strong and balanced. When your muscles are strong, you run better and are less likely to get injured. It also helps you keep good form and handle different kinds of running challenges.

Benefits of Strength Training for Runners

A. Enhanced Muscular Endurance

One big perk of doing strength training for runners is that it helps your muscles keep going longer.

When you run, your muscles work a lot, and being stronger means that they can handle the job without getting too tired. So, you can run for more miles without feeling like you’re running out of gas.

B. Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation

Strength training is like putting on armor for your body. It helps prevent injuries and also helps you recover if you get hurt.

When your muscles and joints are strong, they can handle the stress of running better, and you’re less likely to end up with injuries like sprains or strains.

If you do get injured, doing strength exercises can be part of your recovery plan, helping you get back to running sooner.

C. Improved Running Efficiency and Form

Think of strength training as giving your body a tune-up for running. It improves your running, meaning you use less energy to cover the same distance.

Plus, it keeps your running form in check. When your muscles are strong, you’re less likely to slouch or move in ways that might slow you down or cause problems.

Good form and efficiency mean you can run smoother and faster, making your running experience way better.

The 9 Best Strength Exercises for Runners (2024)

1. Squats

– Proper form and technique

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Lower your body by bending your knees and hips
  • Keep your back straight and chest up
  • Descend as if sitting back in a chair
  • Knees should not extend beyond toes

– Muscles targeted

  • Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and core

– Variations and modifications

  • Bodyweight squats, goblet squats, glute bridge, sumo squats, pistol squats
  • Use a stability ball, medicine ball, or TRX for added challenge

2. Lunges

– Forward lunges

  • Step forward with one foot, and lower body until both knees form 90-degree angles
  • Push off the front foot to return to the starting position

– Reverse lunges

  • Step backward with one foot, and lower body, and return to start

– Side lunges

  • Step to the side, bending one knee while keeping the other straight
  • Return to the starting position

– Benefits for runners

  • Strengthen quadriceps, and hamstrings, and improve balance

3. Deadlifts

– Conventional deadlifts

  • Feet hip-width apart, hinge at hips, keeping back straight
  • Lower the barbell to mid-shin level and return to the standing position

– Romanian deadlifts

  • Similar to conventional, but with a slight knee bend
  • Focus on hip hinge and hamstring stretch

– Hip hinge technique

  • Maintain a straight back, hinge at the hips, not the waist

– Safety considerations

  • Start with lighter weights
  • Keep the bar close to your body during the lift

4. Planks

– Front plank

  • Elbows beneath shoulders, body straight from head to heels
  • Engage core muscles, hold position

– Side plank

  • Support body on one forearm, forming a straight line
  • Engage core and hip muscles

– Core engagement

  • Squeeze abdominal muscles, avoid arching or sagging

– Duration and progressions

  • Start with 30 seconds, gradually increase
  • Progress to plank variations like a plank with leg lifts

5. Hip Abduction Exercises

– Clamshells

  • Lie on your side, knees bent, and open and close the top knee like a clamshell

– Band walks

  • Place resistance band around ankles, walk sideways while maintaining tension

– Execution tips

  • Keep movements controlled and maintain proper alignment

6. Calf Raises

– Strengthening the lower legs

  • Rise onto toes, lifting heels off the ground
  • Lower heels back down

– Variations for different fitness levels

  • Use a step for increased range of motion

7. Push-Ups

– Upper body strength

  • Hands beneath shoulders, body straight from head to heels
  • Lower chest to the ground and push back up

– Core engagement during push-ups

  • Tighten core muscles to maintain a straight body

– Modifications for beginners

  • Perform push-ups on knees, gradually progressing to full push-ups

8. Step-Ups

– Utilizing a step or platform

  • Step up onto a platform, alternate legs

– Ensuring proper form

  • Keep back straight, engage the core, and step through the entire foot

9. Single-Leg Exercises

– Bulgarian split squats

  • Rear foot elevated, lunge forward with one leg
  • Engage glutes and quadriceps

– Single-leg deadlifts

  • Hinge at hips, extend one leg straight behind while lowering the upper body
  • Maintain a straight line from head to heel

Strength Training Guide – Preparing For It

A. Importance of Warm-Up Exercises

Before diving into strength training, warming up is like giving your body a friendly wake-up call. It gets your blood flowing, raises your heart rate, and makes your muscles more flexible.

A good warm-up prepares your body for the challenges ahead and can prevent injuries.

Spend about 5-10 minutes doing light cardio, such as jogging in place or jumping jacks, followed by dynamic stretches to get your muscles ready for action.

B. Understanding Individual Fitness Levels

Not everyone is at the same fitness level, and that’s perfectly okay.

Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced, choose exercises and weights that match your capabilities.

Start with proper form and gradually increase intensity. This approach ensures a safe and effective strength training experience, allowing you to progress at your own pace.

C. Incorporating Strength Training into a Running Routine

Adding strength training to your running routine is like giving your running muscles a boost. Aim for two to three strength training sessions per week, allowing at least 48 hours of rest between sessions for muscle recovery.

Consider doing strength training on non-consecutive days to balance your overall workout schedule. If you’re training for a specific running event, plan your strength workouts strategically to avoid fatigue on crucial running days.

Final Thoughts – Author’s Opinion

In my opinion, it’s not just about logging miles; it’s about building a strong foundation that propels you forward with each step. The benefits of exercises like running extend beyond the physical – increased resilience, improved form, and a reduced risk of injuries can make your running journey more rewarding.

So, lace up those running shoes, grab some weights, and embark on a journey where strength and speed collide. Here’s to a year of stronger strides and greater achievements on the roads, trails, or wherever your running adventures take you. Happy running!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What strength training should I do as a runner?

A: Focus on exercises that target major muscle groups used in running, such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, planks, hip abduction exercises, calf raises, push-ups, step-ups, and single-leg exercises.

Q: How many times a week should a runner strength train?

A: Aim for 2-3 strength training sessions per week, allowing at least 48 hours of rest between sessions for muscle recovery.

Q: Should runners lift heavy or light?

A: It depends on your fitness level and goals. Beginners may start with lighter weights, focusing on proper form. As you progress, gradually increase the weight of the dumbbell for a greater challenge, aiming for a weight that allows 8-12 repetitions with proper form.

Q: How do elite runners strength train?

A: Elite runners often incorporate a mix of compound movements and targeted exercises. Their routines may include heavy lifting, plyometrics, and specific drills to improve strength, power, and running efficiency. Consulting with a coach or trainer can help tailor a program to individual needs.

Q: What role does consistency play in a bodyweight training routine for runners?

A: Consistency is key in bodyweight training. Regular sessions twice a week help build and maintain strength over time, supporting runners in achieving their fitness and performance goals.

Q: How can body weight exercises be modified to accommodate different fitness levels?

A: Beginners can start with basic bodyweight exercises, gradually increasing intensity. For advanced runners, incorporating variations like pistol squats or one-arm push-ups adds challenge, ensuring continued progress.

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