To be a runner, all you need to do is, simply, to run.
But if you want to be able to run long, fast, and strong, you need to do more than just run.
“Runners need to strength train,” says Diana Mitrea, certified personal trainer and fitness entrepreneur. “There’s no doubt that it makes them better, stronger, and faster.”
“Yes, there is such a thing as overtraining, but most of these people aren’t doing that – they’re just lacking strength in some key muscles.”
Plus, adding strength training to your workout routine can help prevent injury. “It’s always baffling to me when people injure themselves running and blame overtraining,” Mitrea says. “Yes, there is such a thing as overtraining, but most of these people aren’t doing that – they’re just lacking strength in some key muscles.”
The solution isn’t necessarily running less – it’s getting stronger. “Think of your muscles as springs,” Mitrea says. “The more you work them, the stronger they become, and the more they can propel you forward faster and with bigger leaps.”
Ready to supercharge your springs? Here’s where to start.
5 Strength TRAINING exercises for runners
Mitrea suggests adding two days per week of strength training to your running routine. Start with 3–4 sets of 10 reps of the following moves. As you figure out which weights challenge you, you can up the weight and reduce the reps to 5 or 6.
1. Goblet Squat
“The squat is one of the most functional movements you can do,” Mitrea says. “This is essential to everything, from running to jumping to anything requiring your legs.”
Plus, the squat also works your core, especially if you’re picking up heavy weights. “The key to good form here is to have your feet outside your hips and your weight toward your heels,” Mitrea says. “Push your butt back and down while keeping your chest up.”
2. Single-Leg Deadlifts
“This move is great for strengthening many of those smaller stabilizing muscles that can help prevent injury,” Mitrea says.
Start by planting the left leg into the ground with a very slight bend in the knee. Hold a dumbbell in the same right arm. Tip from the hip, keeping the dumbbell close to the left leg and lifting the right leg behind you. Keep the shoulders back and your back flat. Squeeze the glutes to rise and stand tall. “You don’t have to go all the way to the ground for this to be effective,” Mitrea says. Then repeat on the opposite side.
3. Monster Walks
“All runners should have a good resistance band in their pack,” Mitrea says. “This is one of the best pieces of equipment to help strengthen the glutes, hips, and everything else a runner needs to pick up the pace.”
Place the band around your feet, then sit your butt back into a ¼ squat, keeping the chest up. Without letting the tension release in the band, shuffle 5–10 steps in one direction, then shuffle back in the other direction, returning to the start position. “Keep going until it burns,” Mitrea says.
4. Hip Bridges
“Many runners have dormant glute muscles,” says Mitrea. “They tend to be very quad dominant, and this movement will help wake up the glutes. It’s also a great move to do to warm up before a run.”
Place a resistance band around the top of the knees, and lie on your back with your heels close to your glutes. Push the knees out and drive through the shoulders and heels to bring the butt up as high as you can before bringing it back down in a controlled movement, then release. “This move can feel kind of awkward, but it’s insanely effective,” Mitrea says.
5. Bulgarian Split Squats
“This one will definitely bring some fire in your legs,” Mitrea says. “Try it without weights first, and then add dumbbells in your hands as you get stronger.”
Find a small box or step, put your back leg on the box, and take a big step forward. At the bottom of the movement, both knees should be at 90 degrees. Keep the chest up and push the front knee out, and try to get the back knee to the ground.
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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.