4 Essential Strength Moves for Runners

Renegade Rows

Put your body in a push-up position with your hands around a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells. The goal is to keep the spine rigid with little to no movement of the pelvis as you are rowing up the weight. Renegade rows will increase shoulder stability, core strength and endurance.

More: 3 Best Core Exercises for Runners

Three Ways to Structure the Essential 4

Single Exercise

Do one movement at a time before moving to the next exercise. The set and rep scheme can be 3 to 6 sets of 5 to 20 reps.

Super Set of Two Exercises

Pair the exercises together before you take a set break. Example: Pair squats with renegade rows, and single-leg deadlifts with push-ups. It's best to pair exercises that focus on different areas, such as pairing lower body with upper body. The set and rep scheme should be 3 to 6 sets of 5 to 20 reps.


Complete all four exercises together without any rest—that's one round. Rest in between rounds can be from zero to three minutes. Shoot for 3 to 6 rounds when doing this circuit. Remember to set up the circuit as lower body, upper body, lower body, upper body. 

It's important to vary your strength-training workouts by altering the type, tempo, order, rest, pairing, sets and reps. Progression requires variation; the body adapts quickly to routine.

The essential four should be staples in runners' strength-training programs. The focus of these workouts is to develop strength in the posterior chain and throughout the core. Consistency and variation of these exercises will make you a more economical runner without having to spend hours in the gym.  

More: 4 Strength Exercises for Time-Strapped Runners

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