Whether you’re a competitive runner or someone who runs for fun, you probably wouldn’t mind running faster. But, how do you do it?
The answer isn’t exactly running more. While it does help, it isn’t the only way to run faster. Adding strength training exercises to your routine can help you improve your running.
Benefits of strength training for runners
There are lots of reasons for runners to make strength training a priority. Some of the greatest benefits you’ll experience include:
- Increased efficiency – Strength training a few times per week can help you increase your endurance. When you are stronger, you’ll be able to run farther before you get tired.
- Burn more calories – Strength training increases your metabolism and your body burns more calories during all workouts while increasing your muscle mass.
- Less injuries – Strength training improves your balance and joint stability.
5 best strength training exercises for runners
These five lower body exercises are essential for runners who want to be faster and have more endurance.
Forward lunges help strengthen the large muscles in the lower body, specifically the quadriceps and the glutes.
- When you do forward lunges, make sure you’re standing up straight with your shoulders back and head in line with your spine.
- Bend your legs until they form 90-degree angles.
- Avoid letting your front knees extend beyond your toes, too — this can put too much stress on your knee.
Squats help strengthen all the major muscles in the lower body, including the hips, quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes.
- Keep your chest lifted and your spine is neutral — it shouldn’t be rounded or have a large arch.
- Bend your knees and keep your weight in your heels — your hips should go back and down like you’re going to sit in a chair.
- When you stand up, squeeze your glutes to prevent your knees from caving inward.
Strong calf muscles help increase your speed and endurance, but they can also help you avoid shin splints. Calf raises help to strengthen the ankles, too, to reduce your risk of ankle strains and sprains.
You can do calf raises anytime and anywhere. You don’t need any equipment, although you can use dumbbells to make them more challenging.
Deadlifts are great for the glutes and hamstrings. When you do deadlifts, remember to hinge at your hips — they should go straight back toward the wall behind you.
There are lots of ways to perform a deadlift depending on your skill level and the equipment you have access to.
You can do deadlifts with dumbbells or a barbell — resistance bands improve leg strength, too. You can also challenge your balance by doing single-leg deadlifts.
Bridges are a good exercise to add into your routine. Bridges help strengthen the glutes, which will allow you to produce more force when you run, especially when you take off.
You can do bridges with your body weight, single leg or with resistance bands.
Strength training tips
Consistency will be important for building a strong foundation and to get the full benefits of lifting weights. Aim for two to three times a week as you add these exercises into your routine.
Don’t fear heavy weights
A common fear is that weight training will make you bulky or heavy ultimately leading to being slower. For runners, especially female runners, it’s actually quite difficult to gain substantial amounts of weight from strength training.
After all, running is a catabolic exercise. You can’t build large amounts of muscle when you are running dozens of miles per week.
Don’t neglect upper body
A strong upper body improves your running form by strengthening your arm swing and posture. When it comes to upper body exercises, functional push and pull movements will yield great results.
Exercises like pull ups and push ups will help with strength and also improve aesthetics.
If you’re new to strength training, proper form is crucial. Ensuring your form is correct help with injury prevention. Taking your time now will improve your body and running for years to come.
What are your favorite strength exercises?