….are the ones that improve your running!
It seems like common sense, but I encounter a lot of runners who are spending a lot of time strength training, but they aren’t necessarily doing the right exercises.
When I ask runners if they do any sort of strength training, I often get an excited “YES!”
They know how important strength training is for runners, and they’re pumped to tell me all about their routine, which might include things like bicep curls, calf raises, tricep kickbacks, etc.
Or my favourite – the leg extension! 😉
When we’re looking at fitness from a general standpoint, any form of strength training is better than no strength training. But that’s not the case with running.
When you’re running two, three, or even four times a week, you want your time spent strength training to be effective, no? You want to maximize your efforts so you can train harder, get injured less frequently, and not have to spend your entire day exercising, right?
So what are the best exercises for runners, you ask?
I love exercises that train the body in a fashion that’s similar to running. Think of a walking lunge – it’s basically an exaggerated running stride!
Alternating dumbbell row or seated cable rows are fantastic, as they strengthen our core and upper body in a way that helps us maintain our posture while running, and glute bridge rocking chairs strengthen the hip stabilizers while our feet move as they would when we run.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the leg extension machine – it has good intentions in helping us develop mass on our quads and can get us really strong at extension of the knee. But do we really need that much strength when we extend our knees as we run?
Now, if we only did exercises that mimicked running movement patterns, we’d be pretty limited on exercise choices. And that might get kind of boring!
So while we may not actually hinge at the hips on one leg, or get into a lunge stance and complete a one-arm kettlebell press while we run, those exercises DO train the body in a unilateral fashion.
And hey, waddya know – when we run, we do one thing with one side of the body, and another thing with the other side! How about that? 😉
I can’t reiterate how important core strength is for runners. I mean, how expensive are race pictures? Do you REALLY want to pay all that money and then be all slouchy in those photos???
But race pictures aside 😉 core strength is crucial to conserving energy and reducing our risk of injury.
Pallof presses and anti-rotation presses help us fight that twisty, floppy runner syndrome that kicks in as we start to get tired, as do three-point dumbbell rows.
And when I talk about the core, I’m not talking about just the abs. The muscles that stabilize the hip are an often over-looked area in a strength training program, however 99% of the runners I work with have at least a minor imbalance in the hip which can lead to some nasty setbacks, if it hasn’t already.
By incorporating things like clam shells, single leg glute bridges, side planks, and single leg squats into our training programs, we can take a prehabilitative approach to our training.
There are many things that contribute to running injuries, like biomechanics, our fabulously unique bodies, dietary factors. etc. So while we may not be able to completely prevent injuries, we can put up a damn good fight!
By incorporating some, or even all of these exercises into your regular strength training routine, you’ll become stronger, faster, and will waste less time doing things like bicep curls that improve your running in no way shape or form, leaving you more time for the important stuff.
Like eating 😉
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What type of exercises do you incorporate into your own strength training program? Have you ever tried any of these exercises before?