Best Strength Exercises for Runners

As you run, your foot is in contact with the ground for less than a second. So naturally, you are not able to generate your maximum force with each step. This means you need to focus on increasing your rate of the produced power. Your muscles need to have stronger muscle contraction in such a short amount of time. But how?

Key takeaways:

With strength training, of course! Let's dive into defining strength training, its benefits, and the best exercises to make you an even better runner!

What is strength training?

Strength training is a form of exercise that causes your muscles to contract against an outside force. This resistance can be in the form of your body weight, dumbbells, kettle bells, resistance bands, or even weight machines at the gym.

Benefits of strength training

Want to break your personal best record? Add strength training. Adding strength training to your exercise routine can boost your running performance.

And that's not all! Strength training can even prevent injuries. It can help you develop stronger bones, manage your weight, and protect your joints. These workouts can even help you manage some chronic conditions such as back pain, obesity, depression, and heart disease.

Exercises for runners

Running is a full-body sport, which means you will need to train your entire body. Let's look at five exercises that will do just that. Note that this list is not comprehensive, but it is a good starting place in your strength training journey.

Remember, proper form is imperative. Master your form before adding time, reps, or added resistance. Consult with a medical professional before starting any new routine, and don't forget your warm-up and cool-down.

Walking lunges

Walking lunges are a great exercise that focuses on your lower half. Begin standing in a neutral position with your feet hip-width distance apart. Step forward with your right foot and lower until there is a 90-degree angle in both knees. Your left knee will be floating above the ground. Press down through your right foot and step your left foot forward, back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.

Woman doing walking lunges

Want to kick it up a notch? Add a dumbbell in each hand.

Squats

Squats target many of the same muscles in your legs that you need to run. Begin with your feet a little wider than the hip-width distance apart. Your toes should be pointing forward or slightly outward. Send your hips back as you lower by bending through your knees. Your knees will track over your second and third toes, but not past. Lower until your quadriceps are parallel to the ground. Press through your heels as you rise to stand.

Woman doing squats

Once you've mastered the body weight squat, add weight! You can use dumbbells or kettle bells. You can also add resistance by placing a resistance band above your knees.

Planks

To target your core, add planks to your routine.

Woman doing plank pose

For a plank, begin by lying face down on your mat with your hands positioned underneath your shoulders and your toes tucked. Take an inhale. On your exhale, press through your hands to lift your body off the ground and hold. There should be a straight line from the tip of your head to your heels. Keep your core engaged and your hips down.

If you experience discomfort in your wrists, drop-down to your forearms.

Begin with holding for 30 seconds. Then, add more time with experience.

The best thing about planks is the many variations available. A few examples are side planks, plank jacks, and plank hip dips.

Push-ups

To target your upper body, try push-ups!

Woman doing pushups

Begin in the plank position, instructions above, but with your hands slightly wider than your shoulder. Lower your body until your chest is almost touching the floor. Ideally, your elbows will be at 90-degree angles. On an exhale, press through your arms, lifting back to the starting position. Repeat for your desired number of reps.

A great modification is to drop your knees to the ground. Lower as you would, but once you reach the bottom of the movement, place your knees on the floor. Then, press up. Once you're at the top of the action, lift your knees.

Back extension

Back extension is a great exercise for your posture during the run as it targets your upper back. Lie face down on the ground. Place your hands by your ears, palms down. Take an inhale. As you exhale, lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground. Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Lower back down to the starting position. To add resistance, hold a resistance band between your hands, arms forward. As you lift, pull the band apart.

Woman doing back extensions

As a runner, adding strength training to your exercise routine can make a world of difference. Overall, this form of exercise has numerous benefits. It can help prevent injuries, manage your weight, and protect your joints. What's not to love?

Explore these five exercises: walking lunges, squats, planks, push-ups, and back extension to target your entire body.

Lookout, you will be beating your personal best record in no time!



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