One of the most frequent questions from the athletes I’m coaching is, should I be strength training? And if so, what exercises are the most important for runners?
There are mixed opinions on the benefits of strength training for runners. The general consensus is yes, you should be doing some body weight exercises to balance your muscles but not so much that you are slowed down by your muscle mass (I have a feeling that isn’t an issue for most of us!)
The average runner is not doing enough strength training, in my opinion. Even adding 10 minutes of body weight exercises after a run 2-3 times a week can help to make you a stronger athlete and less prone to injury.
Here are the top 6 exercises for runners that you can do at home:
Why? Strengthen your hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes and help to prevent knee injuries and make you a stronger runner
How? Sit back with your butt behind you, and knees directly over your feet. Do 10-20 slow reps, coming completely up in between each. Repeat 2-3 times.
2) WALKING LUNGE
Why? For functional strength, to build quadriceps and glutes, and keep the hip flexors flexible
How? Lunge forward with one leg and sink the bank knee toward the floor. Keep your front knee in line with your foot. Take a step forward with the opposite foot and sink down into the lunge. Continue taking steps for 10-20 walking lunges. Rest or switch exercises and repeat. (Can be done with or without hand weights).
3) CALF RAISE
Why? Strengthens the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (strengthens your ankles, can help prevent shin splints)
How? On a step, drop your heels down and then lift the heels all the way up to work the calf muscles. You can do both legs together or one at a time. Repeat 20 times, or as many as you can.
4) PUSH UP
Why? Strengthen your chest, triceps, shoulders and core for stability (read more about how push ups can benefit your running)
How? On your knees or toes, complete 10-20 push ups. Rest and repeat 2-3 times. Work your way up to toe push ups.
Why? Hip and glute strengthening is essential for those prone to knee injuries.
How? Lie on your back, and press up through your hips to create a straight line from shoulders to knees. Dip down and repeat 20 times, or hold as long as you can. (More detailed instructions can be found here.)
Why? Upper body and core strength and stabilization. (However, if you are prone to shin injuries, rest your feet on a stool or chair to take pressure off your shin!) Pete Pfitzinger shares 10 exercises for complete core conditioning for runners, including plank variations safer for the lower back.
How? Balance your body from toes to arms, either in straight arm plank or on your forearms, keeping your body perpendicular to the ground. Hold 30 seconds to 1 minute, rest 1 minute and repeat, or hold as long as you can.
A combination of these exercises can be done after a run, so that you maximize your recovery time before the next run.
Which strength exercises do you incorporate on a regular basis?