….are the ones that improve your running!

#Obviously

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,ย which might include things like bicep curls,ย calf raises, tricep kickbacks, etc.

Or my favourite – the leg extension! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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?

Right!

So what are the best exercises for runners, you ask?

best exercises for runners

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?

best exercises for runners

Rarely does the knee come into full extension during distance running

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.

best exercises for runners

The Single Leg Deadlift

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? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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???

best exercises for runners

It’s all about those race pictures!

But race pictures aside ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 prehabilitativeย approach to our training.

best exercises for runners

The Glute Bridge Rocking Chair not only strengthens the body in a fashion similar to running, but is also prehabilitative

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 youย more time for the important stuff.

Like eating ๐Ÿ˜‰

Want to download a PDF containing detailed descriptions of some of my favourite exercises for runners? Subscribe to my newsletter below to receive your copy instantly!

What type of exercises do you incorporate into your own strength training program? Have you ever tried any of these exercises before?

Showing 28 comments
  • Ange @ Cowgirl Runs
    Reply

    Oh man, YES, to ALL OF THESE!
    I super cringe every time I see someone doing leg extentions. Just. Ick. hahahaha.

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Haha right?!! There’s just something about it I can’t stand. It has its place in some cases, but it kills me to see people spending a chunk of their workout on it!

  • Nicole @ Fitful Focus
    Reply

    glute bridges are my fave as of late! I took a whole “booty building” workshop at IDEA and learned a whole bunch of different ways to maximize the glute bridge, and strong buns = stronger running!

    • Ariana
      Reply

      I would have loved to take that one! It conflicted with another session I wanted to take though. I’d love to read a blog post about how to maximize the glute bridge *hint hint* ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply

    Strength training has done wonders for me and I know it keeps me strong and aging well.

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Yay! I’m glad you’ve found the benefit in it. Keep it up!

  • Reply

    I need to be better at doing the pre-hab exercises. I love one leg deadlifts, they work so much at the same time!

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Pre-hab is not the most fun, and I totally go through phases where I slack on it. But single leg deadlifts are TOUGH and so awesome!

  • Becki S
    Reply

    This was great, I will have to share with my runner friends! I’m so jealous of your race photo, none of my race photos turn out cute.

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Thanks, please do! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Keep in mind that is one of about 20 haha. They definitely are not all like that ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Marcia
    Reply

    Strength and core work are crucial to me as a runner. I love all kinds of squats, bridges and lateral work with the stretchy band.

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Yesss lateral band walks are awesome!! I’m glad you see the importance in strength training as well!

  • Reply

    Hey, it’s all about those glutes! We need that power, and runners are notoriously weak back there…

    Great post!

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Thank you! Yes, many runners and people in general fall victim to lazy glute syndrome. A nice perk to doing lots of clam shells and glute work is the aesthetic appeal ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Jenn
    Reply

    This is great! I am probably not as good at strength training as I should be, but I try. I do try to work my upper body because I carry a lot of tension in my shoulders and I need them strong for longer distances. And I do try to work on my core, too. Love the glue bridge.

    • Ariana
      Reply

      It sounds like you are on an awesome track! Try a tennis ball on your shoulders – it works wonders!

  • Farrah
    Reply

    I adore glute bridges! ๐Ÿ˜€ + I’m so so so happy that I FINALLY GET TO WORK OUT AGAIN. OH EM GEE. ihopeipassedmyboards;itwasterrible.;_;

    • Ariana
      Reply

      HOORAYYY!!!! I’m so excited for you! And don’t fret about your exams – put that nervous energy to work with a workout!

  • rachel
    Reply

    These are great tips and exercises. I need to remember to do THESE more often. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ariana
      Reply

      I’m glad you found them useful! They can be incorporated into a routine relatively easy, so let me know how it goes! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • priya
    Reply

    Will share this with all my keto friends.

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Thank you!

  • Stephanie
    Reply

    I have found that doing planks and squats with weights improved my running a lot. Thanks for sharing other great tips.

    • Ariana
      Reply

      You’re welcome! I’m happy to find someone who shares my love for squats and planks ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply

    Glute bridges are awesome!

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Yes they are!

  • jill conyers
    Reply

    Great info Ariana! I wish I would have had this when I started running. Strength training is so important in staying injury free.

    Have an awesome day!

    • Ariana
      Reply

      I wish I had it too! Haha. It seems like you’re doing a great job with it now though!

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