4 Essential Strength Moves for Runners

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Fall marathon season is quickly approaching and, as mileage increases, finding time to cross-train decreases. It's never easy to maintain a balanced training program, but it's even harder for a marathon runner. Finding time to strength train can be difficult when training for a marathon.

More: How Runners Can Begin a Strength-Training Program

To maximize your time, here is an abbreviated strength-training workout. All four exercises integrate multiple muscle groups:
  • Squats and single-leg deadlifts will help build strength in the glutes, hamstrings and core. These are the most important areas for runners to target. 
  • An emphasis on working the muscles in the posterior chain will allow you to maintain a strong, fluid stride. 
  • Renegade rows and push-ups focus on upper-body strength and core. These two exercises will help you maintain an upright posture during those last few tough miles of the marathon. 

The Essential Four


The squat is the most important exercise runners can do. Squats build power and strength. A correctly executed full-range squat, where the hip crease goes below the kneecap, is not only safe for the knees, but it will also help make them more stable. When the hip crease is below the knee, your glutes, adductors and hamstrings are all engaged. A partial squat (hip crease does not go below the kneecap) will only activate the quadriceps.

Single-Leg Deadlift

When performed correctly, this exercise will recruit all of the muscles of the posterior chain. Single-leg deadlifts (SLDL) increases foot and knee stability, and build better balance and proprioception (body awareness). If you find yourself falling over, it's because your ankle stabilizers are not firing to help you keep your balance. SLDL can take practice to perfect, but it is worth it. 


A great full body exercise, push-ups can help increase endurance through consistent practice. Push-ups work the chest, triceps, biceps, shoulders, forearms, abs, and even engage the legs. If you do not have the strength to do a push-up, start with your knees on the floor.

More: 3 Ways Push-ups Can Help You

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