Improve Your Running With This Workout

Mann und Frau joggen draußen © foodspring

If you look at a long-distance runner’s training schedule, you’ll see it has a lot of runs on there. While the runs do vary in distance and speed, strength training is often neglected or missing entirely. But if you keep skipping strength training, this can have a negative effect on your running performance.

Running is a repetitive strain that you can compensate for with strength training. Strong muscles take the strain off your bones, ligaments, and joints when you run, so you don’t tire as quickly, your running style is better, and you are less likely to suffer an injury. Strength training also teaches your nervous system to control your muscles efficiently. As a result, you can draw more power from the muscles you already have and you can run faster. According to a Norwegian study, long-distance runners improved their running economy by 5%, or ran more efficiently without expending energy unnecessarily, after 8 weeks of strength training in addition to their running regime.

Also worth reading: The Ultimate Runners’ Stretching and Mobility Guide.

Which muscles should you focus on as a runner? We recommend any basic exercises that train as many muscle groups as possible at the same time. Training your core muscles, glutes, and abductors is especially important during your workout. A strong core stabilizes your upper body and hips when you run. The gluteus maximus muscle is mainly responsible for hip extension and dynamics. Straight hips and a powerful foot strike are the only route to a fast pace and a clean running style. Your abductors stabilize the leg axis while you run.

The Warm-Up:

Set aside 10 minutes to get your body warmed up for your workout. Start by circling your shoulders and doing some jumping jacks. Then you can do some bodyweight squats and lunges.

The Workout:

Our workout for runners exercises your whole body. You’ll need two dumbbells and you should adjust the weight depending on the exercise. The exact weight you choose depends on what stage you are in your training. The final repetitions should feel difficult, although you should still be able to keep your technique clean.

The workout consists of 5 exercises. Complete 3 sets of each exercise. Rest for 90 seconds between sets. You won’t need weights for the last exercise so you’ll only rest for 30 seconds.

Exercise Repetitions RestSets
Squat8-1090 seconds3
Single arm row8-10 each side90 seconds3
Romanian deadlift8-1090 seconds3
Single arm shoulder press10 per side90 seconds3
Plank with toe taps10 per side30 seconds3

The Exercises

#1 Squat

Stand up straight, with legs hip-width apart. Your toes should point slightly outwards. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Rest the weights on your collarbones. Keep your upper body straight and make sure your back is in neutral position. Lower yourself with your hips between your thighs, spreading your knees outward. Come back to an upright stance by pushing through your heels.

Muscles: quads, hamstrings, glutes, core.

Remember: If you want to improve the depth of your squat, then place weight plates under your heels. This will change the angle, so you can push your knees further forward and lower your hips deeper.

#2 Single arm row

Hold a heavy dumbbell in your right hand and take a big step back with your right leg. Lean your torso forward and rest your left elbow on your left thigh. Let your right arm hang down loosely. Pull the dumbbell up by moving your elbow back and keeping it close to your body until your elbow forms a right angle. Return to the starting position by lowering your arm in a controlled manner.

Muscles: back, biceps, forearms.

Remember: Keep your arm slightly bent, even in the lowest position.

#3 Romanian deadlift

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Relax your arms in front of your thighs, palms facing you and wrists straight. Keeping the dumbbells close to your body, push your hips back and bend forward from the hips with your back straight. Lower the dumbbells to just below your kneecaps. Then reverse the movement by extending your hips and knees and straightening your upper body.

Muscles: glutes, hamstrings, back extensors.

Remember: Keep your head in a neutral position.

#4 Single arm shoulder press

Hold a medium-size dumbbell in your right hand and stand with your legs hip-width apart. Raise the dumbbell to the level of your ear and rotate your forearm outward. Keep your wrist straight. Raise the dumbbell and hold it over your head. Hold the position for one second and then lower it back to the starting position. Complete all repetitions using your right arm and then move on to your left arm.

Muscles: shoulders, triceps.

Remember: Squeeze your shoulder blades together and keep your shoulders down.

#5 Plank with toe taps

Start in a forearm plank position, with your forearms on the floor and your shoulders above your elbows. Your body forms a straight line. While squeezing your core muscles, move your right foot to the side and tap the floor with your foot. Return your foot to the center. Repeat on the left side. Continue to repeat in rotation.

Muscles: Core

Remember: Keep hips parallel to the floor and your shoulders over your elbows.

Done? Good job! Time for a cool down. Learn how to cool down properly here. 

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Sources for this article

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