Best Strength Workout For Runners
All you need to do to run better is run more, right? Not quite. Strength training is an integral part of any well-rounded runner’s workout routine. In order to run like the wind, you have to be stronger than the wind.
Not only can a strength workout for runners help you run faster, but it can also help prevent future running injuries. Yet when running is the main focus of your workout plan, you may forget to strength train. Taking a couple of days away from the track and putting in your gym time could pay dividends for your running abilities and improve your overall health.
If you’re looking to improve your running or get a leg up on your total-body fitness, we cover everything you need to know about running, strength training, and combining the two below.
What Are the Benefits of Strength Training For Runners?
As rewarding as it feels, running can be a uniquely taxing workout practice for your body. Many runners suffer from chronic issues like knee pain, shin splints, and Achilles tendinitis. But strength training—when integrated into your running routine—can both help alleviate tell-tale runner’s complaints by:
- Preventing injuries from overuse or strain
- Building better running economy (so you can run faster)
- Increasing stability
- Improving your form
- Enhancing aerobic capacity
- Driving up metabolic rate
- Correcting muscle imbalances
- Supporting mental abilities (like focus and confidence)
Adding a strength training workout to your routine, even if it’s just one day, can have a significant impact on your body.
Best Core Workouts For Runners
Looking to improve your core strength? A good core workout does more than just give you a flashy six-pack. Improving your core strength will help stabilize your spine, which will support your overall balance and stability. That translates to better form while you’re running—and it could even improve the quality of your breathing as well.
Fortunately, you can make core work a cornerstone of your routine at the gym, in the park, or in your downtime at home. Start by focusing on:
- Planks – This exercise is great for strengthening upper body muscles including core and arms. Start out by, holding for 30 seconds. If you are feeling up to it, try holding for 60 to 90 seconds. We recommend both front and side planks to tune up your obliques.
- Bicycle crunches – Focus on keeping your back plugged into the mat to fully engage your core muscles. Start out with a 60-second set; after a few, try going up to 90 seconds.
- Push-ups – Classic push-ups give you the added benefit of an arm workout. Start with a series of 20 push-ups. Increase to 40 as you build more strength.
Best Leg Workouts For Runners
Obviously, legs are one of the most important parts of a runner’s body. The good news is that there are many strength exercises to add to your lower body workout plan. To get you started, these five go-to’s can help build stronger leg muscles and lower-body awareness:
- Squats – Squats target all the muscles in your legs. This move will focus on your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Start with one set of 15 and or you can bump that up to three sets of 15 if you would like.
- Lunges – Although you’ll really feel the benefit in your legs, lunges are a full-body move that activates the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, and core muscles. The move also increases mobility in your hips. Start with 15 lunges on both sides, then move up to three sets of 10.
- Burpees – This full-body exercise gets your heart rate up while building strength in both your lower and upper body. For runners, a single set of 20 is a great starting point.
- Heel raises – Activate the muscles that run down the back of your legs and work on your balance with heel raises. To start, try three sets of 10.
- Toe raises – You’ll only need to do 15 to 20 toe raises to see an impact on your shin strength, which can be a lifesaver when curious about how to prevent shin splints. (Translation? No more shin splints.)
These strength exercises also don’t require heavy weight lifting. Some of these can also be done with just your body weight or light weights. A squat, for instance, can be done as a bodyweight exercise. The importance here is that you’re strengthening each muscle group.
How Many Times a Week Should Runners Do Strength Training?
Runners should aim to hit the gym for strength training around twice a week, in addition to their standard schedule of running and recovery days.
Ideally, you’ll space out strength training sessions so they won’t fall immediately before speed work. Pushing them too close together may lead to fatigue, compromising your ability to perform at your fastest speeds. Setting up your running and training plan efficiently is important to know you’re getting in the strength work you need without straining your body.
How Long Should Strength Training Last?
Depending on your goals, a strength training session should last anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.
Of course, if you’re training for an upcoming marathon, you may want to hit the gym for longer. That said, if life gets chaotic and you can only spend 15 minutes on strength training, make them count! Where this type of workout is concerned, duration or number of reps aren’t as important as your quality of form.
Build Strength For Your Run at Chuze Fitness
Although you run solo, it helps to train in a community. Stop into a nearby Chuze Fitness location and our friendly and knowledgeable team will help you evolve your fitness goals, by guiding you through fitness classes before relaxing your sore muscles by enjoying a hydromassage.
Whether you’re looking for pep talks on the treadmill or someone to spot you during your strength workout, our fitness experts are en-chuze-iastic about helping you meet your goals.
No matter what you choose, find a Chuze gym near you to jump-start your strength training and burn seconds off your mile times before you know it.
Ani is the Vice President of Fitness at Chuze Fitness and oversees the group fitness and team training departments. She’s had a 25+ year career in club management, personal training, group exercise and instructor training. Ani lives with her husband and son in San Diego, CA and loves hot yoga, snowboarding and all things wellness.
- VeryWell Fit. Strength Training Workouts for Runners. https://www.verywellfit.com/strengthening-workouts-for-runners-2911909
- Runner’s Blueprint. Top 7 Strength Training Exercises For Runners (2020 Update). https://www.runnersblueprint.com/strength-training-for-runners/