The Strength Training Workout For Runners

The Strength Training Workout Every Runner Needs
Photo: Pond5

Kicking off a new running routine — whether you’re chasing your first or fifth finish line — can sometimes feel downright hard. But tacking on more and more training runs won’t necessarily make those miles breeze by. There’s another way to feel lighter on your feet: Strength training. Not only will building muscle in your legs, glutes and core help you go faster and longer, it will also allow you to maintain good form as you go. Translation: Sidestepping injury and post-run aches and pains.

The first muscle group most runners should address? The glutes, says Debora Warner, president and run coach at Mile High Run Club in NYC. A weak behind can lead to strain, most often in the iliotibial (or IT) band, a ligament that spans the outside of the thigh from hip to shin. A strong backside, however, helps stabilize the hips and knees and generates power (read: helps you up those hills!).

But of course, working your butt and legs aren’t the only important factors in building a strong base. To uphold proper posture during your run and keep your gait balanced even when you’re tired, Warner says you need to tone your upper body and core, too.

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The Strength Training Workout to Help You Run This Town

In this beginner-friendly routine designed by Warner, you’ll target every muscle group needed to support a strong stride. Do the workout two to three days a week to maximize benefits. Start with a five-minute light jog to warm up your body, then cool down with an easy walk and some stretching.

Strength Circuit #1 for Runners
Perform 12 reps of each move and repeat for three total rounds.

Strength Circuit Workout for Runners
Photo: Pond5

Bodyweight Squats: Stand with feet hip-distance apart. Keep toes pointed forward and knees behind the toes as you push your hips down and back.

Bent-Over Row: Use 5- to 10-pound dumbbells. Bend knees, lean upper body forward (almost parallel to the ground), while keeping your back flat. Start with arms straight down in front of you. Then bring them up to shoulder height, palms facing toward your body. Straighten arms back out and repeat.

Reverse Lunge to Stand: Stand with feet hip-distance apart. Step one foot behind you and bend both knees to 90 degrees. Keep your back straight and shoulders over the hips. Fully extend your front, standing leg as you step the other leg up, lifting knee to hip height at the top of the movement. Repeat 12 times, then switch sides.

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Strength Circuit #2 for Runners
Perform 12 reps of each move and repeat for three total rounds.

Strength Circuit Workout for Runners
Photo: Pond5

Squat Jumps: Stand with feet hip-distance apart. Lower down into a deep squat by pushing your hips down and back. Explode off your feet as you jump back up and off the floor. Land softly back on your feet and repeat.

Bicep Curls: Stand with feet hip-distance apart. With 5- to 10-pound dumbbells in each hand, start with elbows by your sides and palms facing toward the sky. Curl your hands up to your shoulders, keeping your chest out and back straight. Return arms back down by your sides and repeat.

Unilateral Step-Ups: Using a chair or bench, place one foot on top and the other behind you. Engage the quads and glutes of the standing front leg, as you drive the knee of your back foot up to about hip height. When the standing leg is straight, lower the opposite toes back down to the floor. (Try not to push off the floor with your back leg. Instead, focus on working the standing leg.) Repeat for 12 reps, then switch sides.

RELATED: 7 Benefits of Strength Training That Go Way Beyond Buff Arms

Core Circuit for Runners
Do three sets of these moves, in order.

Runners' Core Workout
Photo: Pond5

Forearm Plank: Lie on your stomach. Press up onto your forearms and toes, so your body is in a straight line. Make sure your shoulders are directly over your elbows and hips are in a neutral position (don’t tilt them up or let them sink toward the floor). Hold for one minute. (Got form questions? Check the most common mistakes here.)

Side Forearm Plank: Lie on your side and lean on one forearm, elbow in line with shoulder. Place the other hand on your hip. Lift your hips so you create a straight diagonal line from shoulders to ankles. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Superman: Lie on your belly with arms and legs extended. Lift head, neck and shoulders, while also lifting arms and legs. Pause for a few seconds. Lower limbs back down and repeat for one minute.

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