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Strength Training for Runners

Whether you’re new to running or are a serious marathon competitor, you should know that running alone is not enough to improve your performance. Switching up your training with sprints, long runs and tempo runs is a good start. However, if you want to get the most out of your body and improve your running, you need to add some strength training to your workout plan


So now you might be thinking to yourself, “What kind of strength training should a runner do?” Luckily, we’re here to help. We’ll answer all of your strength training related questions below. 

Will strength training improve my running?

Strength training offers runner’s numerous benefits that will enhance their performance. So, it should definitely be added to your training schedule. 


Strength work will help by building stronger muscles and connective tissues. Stronger muscles will give your legs more power during your runs, while stronger connective tissues will help prevent injuries. Over and above this, strength training also contributes to better coordination, stride efficiency and overall upper body stability. 

How many times a week should a runner lift weights?

Ideally, you should be doing strength training at least twice a week, with three days being even better. Each training session should last 30 to 60 minutes; however, this will depend on you. This will help you build up muscles without leaving your body too fatigued. 


Now, you’ll also need to consider whether you’re going to alternate your strength and running days or whether you’re going to train and run on the same day. Generally, you’ll be fine doing both sessions on the same day, and this will also leave you a full recovery day after. However, be careful of going too heavy on the weights and give yourself a couple of hours for your body to rest between your strength training and your run. 

Should runners lift heavy or light?

As a runner, you should be going for heavier weights and fewer reps. This way, you’ll build up your strength without bulking up your muscles. Of course, the weight you lift will be dependent on you and whether you’ve already done some weight lifting before. 


For those who are just starting, it’s best to start with your body weight and perfect your form first. After that, you should ideally go for a weight that you know will be too easy for you and perform three sets of 10 reps each. From here, you can test things out, adding more weight as you go. Generally, if the reps become quite strenuous during the last set, then you know that that will be a good weight to start with during your next strength training session. 


If you’re not familiar with the weights room at your gym, strength training gym classes are a great way to get started. 

What are the best strength training exercises for runners?

Strength training will help increase stability, improve your running efficiency and prevent the risk of injury. There are numerous strength exercises, but these are some of the most important activities for runners to incorporate into their strength training. 

Step-Ups

Your legs are your greatest tool when running, so your strength exercises should definitely help to build the power in these lower limbs. With step-ups, you’ll be working all of the muscle groups, making your legs more robust and powerful. 

Walking lunges

Power is not the only thing you need when running. Stability and coordination are two other essential elements for a good runner to have. Walking lunges are the perfect strength exercise for improving these two factors, and lunges will increase your stride length, which will help you run faster. 

Squats

Squats are another excellent exercise for those looking to work all of the leg muscles in one go. This strength exercise will also contribute to a more efficient running stride and greater flexibility. 

Single leg deadlift

Having strong leg muscles will not only increase your running power but also contribute to better stability which will reduce the risk of injuries. Single leg deadlifts will specifically target the glutes and hamstrings, which are two of the hardest worked muscles (besides the quads) when running. 

Glute Bridge 

The glutes are an essential muscle to strengthen if you’re a runner. They’re primarily responsible for supporting the lower limbs as well as hip extension. Having stronger glutes will keep your pelvis and torso aligned while pushing the body forward, increasing the power of your stride. 

Leg Raises

This exercise will strengthen the lower abdominals, which help stabilise the torso when running. It’s also an excellent exercise for strengthening the hip flexors, which will reduce the risk of injury and aid with knee lift when running. 

Plank (with hip dips)

Doing a plank does not only increase the strength of your core, but it also contributes to greater stability. This exercise will also aid the muscles that support the spine and pelvis, ultimately leading to better form when running. 

Shoulder taps

This strength exercise is great as it works the abs, arms, shoulders and glutes. The most important thing to remember is to keep the core engaged to keep yourself in a stable position.  

Superman

A strong back is essential for good posture and stability. The superman exercise strengthens both the middle and upper back, improving your running efficiency. 

Tricep dips

When running, your arms play a more significant role than you may think. Pumping your arms gives you extra power while stabilising your upper body. Tricep dips are an excellent way to increase your arm’s muscle strength, and this exercise will help you maintain good posture while running. 

Press Ups

This strength exercise will work your chest, arms and shoulders, which will help you drive your arms and increase power during your runs. It’s also a great exercise to do if you want to improve your posture. 

Dumbbell Row

When strengthening your upper body, you need to ensure that you’re balancing out your chest strength with exercises for your upper back. Dumbbell rows are the perfect exercise to work those muscles in your upper back. 

Ready to hit the gym?

Now that you know the benefits that come from adding strength training to your schedule, it’s time to hit the gym and strengthen those muscles so that you can improve your running performance.