Top Strength Training Exercises for Runners

First and foremost, if you’re a runner and you’re not strength training you need to start. This in and of itself could be an entire blog article. But here I go with the synopsis.

Strength training will indirectly help you run longer and faster. Strength training exercises can improve your running mechanics, so that you run more efficiently. Efficient running mechanics will lead to less wasted energy with each step and less injuries.

Think about it. You will take 80 to 90 steps per foot each minute you run. If you have muscular imbalances that lead to joint mobility or stability issues you will move through an improper range of motion with each step.

When you run for 30 minutes you take 2700 steps with each foot for a combined 5400 steps. That could be 5400 steps of feet rolling in, rounded shoulders, wasted side to side movement or just pure pain. Needless to say, when you are an endurance athlete it’s important that each step and every workout is adding to improved performance not to injury or fatigue.

The key to becoming a better runner is consistency. For most runners, injuries are the biggest disrupter of consistent training. Runners get a few good weeks or months of training, and then they are injured.   That means time off, loss of motivation, and a decrease in fitness.

Strength training with proper form 2 to 3 times a week will reduce the onset of injuries and improve your running form. Here are my top 3 strength training exercises for runners.

Bulgarian Split Squat

You will need a bench, chair or stepper to perform this exercise. Start by doing this exercise with just body weight and then progress. The progression could include holding dumbbells, kettlebells or a barbell. You can also make this exercise explosive

Single Leg Squat Start

Single Leg Squat Finish

 

  • Place the to top of your back foot on. If you are having a hard time with balance, flex your back toes and place them on the bench.
  • Stand in a staggered stance about 2 to 3 feet wide. This should allow your knee to bend while keeping your knees behind your front toes.
  • Inhale as you begin to bend both knees.
  • Focus on your back knee pointing straight down toward the ground and your body weight in your front heel.
  • Keep your front kneecap inline with the 3rd toe of the front foot.
  • Exhale as you straighten both knees to come back up to standing.

 

Start with 10 repetitions on each leg and progress to 15.

Calf Lowers

Use a stair or a stepper to perform this exercise. Start by doing this exercise with just body weight. The progression would include holding a dumbbell in one hand.

 

Calf Raise Start

Calf Raise Finish

  • Place the ball of your foot on the stair while holding on to the wall or railing.
  • Rise up on the ball of your foot as high as your heel will go. Make sure you have weight evenly distributed on all of your toes and that you are not rolling onto one side of your foot.
  • Slowly, lower you heel back to the starting position. Try counting 3 to 5 slow counts to ensure you really focus on lowering part of the movement.

Do 10 reputations on each foot to start. Work up to doing 20 reputations on each foot.

Band or Cable Row

How many runners do you see hunched over logging long miles. This exercise is for improved running posture, which can lead to improved respiration.

To perform this exercise, use a band or a cable. This exercise can be done with both arms or with just one arm.

Row Start

Row Finish

  • Stand in a staggered stance with relaxed knees. Make sure your ribs on stacked on top of your hips to ensure good posture.
  • Grab the handles of the band or the cable in the thumbs up position.
  • Start the movement by protracting the shoulder blades.
  • Then bend the elbows straight back so that your biceps are close to your rib care. Keep your knuckles forward.
  • To release, begin to straighten your elbows and bring your shoulders back to the starting position.

 

Start with 10 repitions and work up to 20. To increase difficulty, use a more difficult band or more weight on the cable system.

Here’s to improving your running mechanics so that you can train more consistently. Can’t wait to hear about the PR at your next race.