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  • Sarah Louise

5 strength exercises every runner should be doing

If you’re an avid runner you might know it’s common to struggle with knee- or hip pain, lower back aches, shin splints and other nagging issues. This is because running puts a lot of pressure on our joints.

The good news is that regular strength training alongside your running will help keep you injury free as well as improve your running performance.

Read this article to learn how to incorporate strength training into your running schedule and the 5 strength exercises every runner should be doing 👇🏼

5 strength exercises every runner should be doing

Why strength workouts are important for runners

If you want to improve your running it’s of course important to have running as a dominant part of your weekly training plan. However, it’s just as important to also be doing certain strength exercises. If done right, these improve your performance and keep your joints strong & healthy. It’s especially important to strengthen our glutes and back legs, as running tends to be very knee- and quad dominant.

The benefits of doing strength training as a runner are endless. It will help you:

  • Run faster. The stronger your leg muscles get, the more force you can generate on each stride

  • Build muscular endurance, so you can run for longer without getting tired

  • Fix muscular imbalances, so you don’t have a dominant side always ‘taking over’

  • Build stronger joints, so they can handle the strain from running and you can stay free from injuries

  • Run with better form. No more slouching your shoulders forward or not engaging your core while running

So, what are the best exercises for runners?

The 5 best strength exercises for runners

#1 Hip thrusters

5 strength exercises every runner should be doing

As mentioned, running is very knee- and quad dominant. Hip Thruster is the most effective exercise to build strong glutes and hamstrings. It takes pressure off the knees.

Do this exercise for 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Focus points for Hip thruster:

  • Keep your heels in the ground and focus on pressing through them

  • Keep knees directly over your heels

  • Maintain a straight back during the movement

  • Keep your head lifted from the bench and squeeze your core

  • Focus on tucking your tailbone in underneath yourself and squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement

#2 Bulgarian split squats

5 strength exercises every runner should be doing

This is a single leg exercise and therefore incredible at strengthening any imbalances so you don’t have one leg stronger than the other. It will also give you greater flexibility in your hips and strengthen your core tremendously, as this is working extra hard to maintain balance.

Do this exercise for 3 sets of 8-10 reps on each leg.

Focus points for Bulgarian split squats:

  • Keep your front heel in the ground and focus on pressing up through it

  • Keep your front knee directly over your foot

  • Maintain a straight back during the movement

  • Focus on going as deep in the movement as you can

#3 Pulldown machine or pull ups

We tend to be very hunched over and have our shoulders rolled forward when running. This exercise will help open your chest and build a strong upper back and arms. The stronger your arms are the more you swing them, and therefore the faster you can run.

Do this exercise for 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Focus points for Pull ups:

  • Keep your chest forward and look up slightly

  • Focus on pulling elbows down

  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together in every rep

  • At the bottom of the movement straighten your arms, but keep shoulder blades locked in place

#4 Russian twists

5 strength exercises every runner should be doing

This exercise will replicate the constant twisting of your body and swinging of your arms that you do while running.

Start by doing this exercise without weight, and aim to do 20 reps in total. Work your way up to 30 reps. Use a light dumbbell or plate for extra resistance.

Focus points for Russian twists:

  • Lean back slightly until you feel your core tense up and keep heels in the ground the whole time

  • Focus on twisting your upper body as much as you can, and not just moving your arms from side to side

  • Maintain a straight back throughout

  • Remember to breathe during the movement

#5 Weighted planks

5 strength exercises every runner should be doing

Planks are great for strengthening the entire core. A strong core will help stabilise you during your runs and reduce lower back pain.

If you’ve never done them before, do them without weight. When you’ve worked your way up to 60 seconds, try adding a plate on your back for an extra challenge. Work your way up to 90 seconds with this.

Focus points for Weighted planks:

  • Put the plate on your back by lying on your stomach and wiggling it up there.

  • Keep shoulders directly above your elbows and back straight

  • Remember to breathe

The best strength workout for runners

So how do you put all these exercises together in a proper strength workout? Simply do 3 sets of each exercise with 1-2 minutes rest in between. Focus on lifting as heavy as you can. Do this workout 1-2 times per week and increase the weight or # of sets every couple weeks.

3 sets of 10-12 Hip thrusters

3 sets of 8-10 Bulgarian split squats (each leg)

3 sets of 10-12 Pulldown machine or Pull ups

3 sets of

20 Weighted russian twists

60 sec Weighted plank

Getting your own training plan

You’ll be amazed by how much you can improve your running after just a few weeks of strength training 1-2 times per week. Even better, with a personalised training plan. This will give you the right exercises each week as well as weekly progression so you never hit a plateau.

Get your personalised training plan with the trainn app. Select the goal “build lean muscle” or “improve stamina” and your workouts will be tailored perfectly to support your running goals.

Ready to go? Tap below to start your 14 day free trial 👇🏼


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