If you are a runner, you know you should be strength training. Now be honest, do you actually do it consistently? We know how easy it is to forget. Believe us, we get it. We are runners. We want to run ALL the miles.
And while it's true that you need to run to make you a stronger and faster runner, when you run all the miles, you need all the strength to keep your body running injury-free. You may have legs of steel from doing hill repeats or 800s on the track, but your whole body needs strength training to combat the repetitive stress that comes with each run.
When putting together a strength training routine, be sure to keep these tips in mind:
- Do two to three full-body strength training sessions a week focusing on the major muscle groups.
- If using weights, be sure to go heavy enough but not so much that form is compromised.
- Form is key! Don’t get sloppy to get through the exercises faster. Slow and controlled is what will tax the muscles most.
- Be sure to do exercises that move in many planes. Work to the front, side and back.
If you aren't strength training regularly or have no idea where to begin, these six essential strength training exercises for runners are a good place to start. They are simple, basic, bodyweight moves that can be done anywhere. No equipment or gym membership needed.
But if you want to add a little weight to your workout, consider investing in some space-saving adjustable dumbbells.
SquatsThe squat is a basic move that everyone, runner or not, can benefit from. It strengthens all the major muscles in the legs from glutes, quads, hips and hamstrings. Once you have the basic move mastered, progress to single leg squats to mimic the running motion.
PlanksA strong core is the foundation of a strong runner. Planks are a basic move that hits the core. There are many variations of a plank—forearm plank, side plank, shoulder taps, plank ups and downs, etc.
LungesLunges strengthen the quads, hamstrings and glutes. There are tons of variations (front, traveling lunges, reverse, lateral). Mix it up to move the body in the different planes.
Push-UpsYou may think a runner doesn't need to worry about upper body strength. Not true! Upper body strength will help power you through the last miles of a marathon when fatigue hits. Plus, you'll need that arm strength to pump up a big hill.
Single Leg DeadliftsRunning requires powerful glutes. The single leg deadlift isolates the glute in addition to the hamstrings. Doing the exercise on one leg, helps build balance and coordination, two things runners need more of.
The ultimate glute strengthener is the bridge. Strong glutes keep your pelvis level and steady. It propels your leg up and forward. It's your powerhouse. A lot of runners are quad dominant. A basic glute bridge fires up the glutes. Progress this exercise to single leg to make it more difficult.
READ THIS NEXT: A Strength Training Test for Runners