My Top Ten Strengthening Exercises For Runners

What other exercises? Is what many beginner runners (including me) might reply when asked, how they complement their running routine and what other exercises they do. It’s a common mistake many of us make and even if we know that we should be doing more than just running, we easily just skip it (that’s me right there). However, strength is essential for runners on all levels to prevent injuries, increase power and efficiency, enable holding a proper posture and a better balance. Runner’s knee, which is just a term used to describe a certain type of knee pain, can relate to weak thighs, hips and core muscles. The following list consists of ten of my go- to strength exercises to get me into better condition for running.



Everyone knows the plank. I absolutely hate it but hey, it’s a killer for improving your core strength so… Not only does it strengthen your core but also your back and shoulders. Prop yourself up on your elbows with shoulders directly over elbows and feet slightly apart. Draw your shoulders down and back and make sure your entire top line is straight, don’t stick your butt out. Tighten your abs and glutes for support. Hold for 45s to 1 minute or more depending on your personal condition. Repeat for 3-5 reps. You can target your obliques with the side plank.



For some reason people often tend to forget about their back muscles- I know I do. The back extension is a simple, back toning and balance- improving exercise. Start by lying on the ground face down with your arms and legs extended. Tighten abs to give stability and begin raising your arms and legs simultaneously off the ground. Imagine doing this movement by solely ’’crunching’’ your back. Hold for a bit and slowly bring arms and legs to ground. Repeat 10-20 times, rest for a bit and repeat for 3-5 sets.



A good exercise for core and obliques and one of my favorites. Start seated with knees bent 90-degrees and hands clasped in front of chest. Lift feet about two inches off floor. Engage abs and rotate upper body to the right as if you’re reaching right elbow to floor. Keep back tall and rotate from your hips. Return to starting position and repeat on left side. That’s 1 repetition. Complete 10 to 12 reps. As you advance, you can add weights or try to keep your legs straight.



More core! Core muscles are essential in keeping that posture as it should be. A bad posture will cause you to develop various injuries over time. Take hold of an overhead bar and begin raising your legs simultaneously. Don’t stop at parallel though, if you do you won’t actually be targeting your abs very efficiently. To maximize the effect, try to crunch your entire pelvis up: this is where your abs are really put to work. I’d recommend setting a 45s timer and just do as many full reps as you can. If you can do the full 45 seconds, repeat until you can’t.



Time to target those glutes and hamstrings as well as many back and core muscles! Stand up with your legs slightly wider apart than your shoulders. Holding free weights or a barbell in front of your body slightly, bend one knee, hinge forward at the waist and lift the opposite leg behind you. Lower the weights, keeping them very close to the tops of your legs until you reach just below your knees. Engage your hamstring and glute of the leg planted on the ground and come back to standing. Repeat eight to 12 reps and switch to the other leg. Be very careful that you do not hunch your back and only do as many reps as you can hold the correct form to avoid wrecking your back.



One of my favorite leg exercises by far. Lunges will especially effect your glutes and quads. As someone who suffers from knee pain easily, I never ever do forward lunges as they’re kind of counterproductive if the reason I’m doing them is to help my knees handle the impact of running. Instead, I love reverse lunges! Stand up with your arms to your sides. Take a step back with one leg and bring your arms forward in about a 90 degree angle at the elbow for balance and extra power and lower into the lunge. Both knees should be approximately at a 90 degree angle. Thrust back up into starting position and bring arms to sides again. Repeat 10 times per leg and repeat that three times.



Bridges are another one of my absolute favorites. This is one of the best exercises to achieve that Instagram peach butt everyone wants now! Jokes aside, bridges will work your hips and glutes like nothing else. Lay face up on the ground with your arms at your sides and knees bent. Raise the other leg up and push with the other leg into the bridge position. Really squeeze those glutes for maximum effect. Do 10 raises for both legs, 3 sets in total.



Some chest strength is needed as well! I’m sure everyone knows what a push up is, but just as a reminder: keep your topline straight like in the plank exercise and make sure to do this move slowly and focus on your posture. Instead of trying to push up really fast, try to hold the lower position before coming back up for max effect. 10 push ups, 3 sets.



Hold a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length in front of you, palms facing your thighs. Keeping your back naturally arched, bend at the hips and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor. Keep your arms straight as you bend your hips so that the dumbbells hang straight down. Pull the dumbbell in your left hand by bending your elbow and raising your upper arm toward the middle of your back. Lower and repeat with your right arm. That’s one repetition. Repeat 10-12 times.



My favorite right after those bridges! Squats condition pretty much every muscle in your lower body so they’re more than just a butt workout. First, stand as tall as you can with your feet spread shoulder-width apart. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Push yourself back to the starting position while squeezing your glutes. That’s one rep. Repeat 3×20.


And there you have it! A pretty wholesome workout for the entire body. Squeezing this into your routine once or twice a week will do wonders for your running, just wait and see!


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