7 Strength Building Exercises All Runners Should Do

Posted by Andrea Lawson in Training

If you’re a runner it’s important that you take some time to not only learn which exercises will benefit you, but also spend some time perfecting them. In my last post I highlighted the 6 steps to avoid running related injuries, so it should come as no surprise when I say that strength training is a vital component in preventing running injuries.

Not convinced?

Here are 5 reasons why every runner needs to incorporate a strength component into their training:

  • It enhances endocrine and immune function—which are compromised by endurance training
  • It maintains muscle mass—also negatively affected by endurance training
  • It improves functional capacity in spite of aging by maintaining maximal strength and power—both of which decrease with prolonged endurance training
  • It builds bone density—something many runners lack due to poor dietary practices, but desperately need in light of the high risk of stress fractures
  • It enables us to correct muscle imbalances more rapidly—proved by the fact that resistance training is the cornerstone of any good physical therapy program

 

After my last post I received a number of inquires asking which types of exercises a runner should include in their program—which is the inspiration behind this post. There are a number of exercises that are appropriate for runners, the 7 I have listed below are—in my opinion—the most beneficial. So without further ado…

Note: If your fitness program is balanced to support your body, then variety is not the key to your success—getting good at the a few basic movements is what will change your game.

 

Here are 7 exercises all runners should be do:

 

1.  The Turkish Get Up

Complete 5-minutes of get ups 2-3x per week. Set your timer and alternate sides.

This exercise may look complicated, but once you learn the steps to complete it you will quickly appreciate that the Turkish Getup (TGU, or as we like to call them at BIM, get downs) is simply a series of movements that brings you from a lying down flat position to standing up (or vice versa). What makes the TGU unique and valuable is that the series of movements is completed while you’re holding a weight over your head—which in itself requires a substantial amount of shoulder and core stability. This is one of the few exercises that require mobility, stability, and strength as you move through multiple planes of motion.

Why should runners do them?

Turkish Get Ups will…

  • Improve your shoulder and hip mobility and stability (two components that are often neglected and problematic for runners)
  • Improve your leg drive
  • Teach you how to find stability in anterior, lateral, and overhead positions
  • Enable you to work on any asymmetries that may be present between the left and right side of your body

 

HERE is a great article written by Dean Sommerset that explains just how to do a Turkish Get Up properly

 

2.  Hip Thrust

Complete 3 to 4 sets of 10 1-2x per week.

Hip Thrusts—not surprisingly—are a hip dominant exercise with the gluteal group being the primary muscle driving the action. That said, your thigh musculature is also involved in this movement so you really can’t go wrong if you add these to your program. One of the reason I really like Hip Thrusts is that it is a glute dominant exercise that doesn’t limit your back strength when performing it—as with other glute workouts.

Why runners should do them?

Hip thrusts will…

  • Improve strength and function of your glutes—which is key to preventing knee and back problems. Having good recruitment and strength of your glutes will also discourage the development of common muscle imbalances associated with running.
  • Improve your running stride consistency and endurance
  • Improve functioning of your entire body—since the glutes influence foot, ankle, knee, hip, pelvic, and low back mechanics

 

HERE is a great article written by Bret Contreras that explains how to set up and complete a hip thrust properly.

 

3.  Squats

Sets and reps depend where you are at with your periodization and your experience with this lift. Generally I recommend 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps. Quality of reps is the most important factor here.

Squats are awesome because they’re a whole body, multi-joint exercise that work everything. Generally I recommend a front-loaded squat—as they stimulate more core activation and consistent form is easier to maintain.

Why should runners do them?

Squats will…

  • Improve your core stability
  • Improve your overall leg strength and function
  • Improve your running stride consistency and endurance

 

Check out THIS article and learn all you need to know to perform a squat well.

 

4.  Loaded reverse lunges

Complete 3 sets of 10 per leg 1-2 times per week. There are several ways to load a lunge: front-loaded (as illustrated in the video below) or by holding weight by your sides.

In order to complete a lunge your body must generate force in a single-leg stance. This requires the ability of the adductors (your inner thigh muscles) and abductors (your outer thigh/butt muscles) to co-contract—working together to stabilize your thigh. By doing a lung correctly, you can teach these muscles to balance each other out properly. The lunge also trains your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and core stabilizers at the same time.

Why should runners do them?

Lunges will…

  • Improve your running efficiency and prevent problems such as lateral knee pain, anterior hip pain, and lower back pain
  • Improve your running stride consistency and endurance by building strength and balance in a single leg stance

 

Learn everything you need to know to lunge well HERE .

 

5. Single leg Romanian Dead Lifts (RDL’s)

Complete 3 sets of 10 per leg 1-2 times per week.

Single leg Romanian Dead Lifts are another hip dominant exercise that will help build strength and recruitment to your gluteal muscles. This exercise—like the Turkish Get Down and Lunge—helps you develop strength and stability in a single leg stance.

Why should runners do them?

Single leg RDL’s will…

  • Prevent knee and back ailments by improve your lateral hip stability and core stability
  • Improve your running stride and consistency by building strength and balance in a single leg stance

 

HERE is a great article from Tony Gentlicore explaining how to complete these correctly.

 

6.  Rows

Do 3 sets of 10 2-3x per week.

Rowing variations are essential to help develop strength in your biceps and lats, in addition to several other the muscles that stabilize your shoulder and scapula.

Why should runners do them?

Your upper body plays a huge role in endurance performance:

  • Your arms are responsible for maintaining a rhythmic motion in tune with your lower body
  • Your shoulders should be properly positioned and flexible enough to allow the diaphragm to expand unimpeded and provide proper airflow
  • Your torso must have a stable foundation to prevent excess rotation during the running motion

 

And Rows will allow you to achieve all of this.

 

Types of rowing exercises you should perform:

 

Any of the above are suitable. In fact, performing a variety of rowing variations is even better for your body and overall physical fitness.

 

7.  Core Work

Obviously this article would not be complete if it didn’t tell you to incorporate more core work into your fitness program. Our core is the foundation of all movement—as you know—so if you don’t have adequate core strength your body will break down sooner or later.

Runners often do not incorporate enough core work, which can lead to all sorts of muscular imbalances, poor mechanics, and injury.

If you want to read more about these imbalances, read THIS article.

If you want to learn how to engage your core effectively, then read THIS article.

Keep your core working by doing exercises like front planks and/or push ups and make sure you execute any core work with perfection.

 

I guarantee by completing all of the above exercises will help your running performance and reduce your risk of injury. But if you have any questions or concerns about any of the exercises listed above, or are currently suffering from a running related injury please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d be happy to explain things further in more detail.

Here’s to happy and healthy running!

Andrea

 

 

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