Strength Training Exercises for Runners

Strength Training Exercises for Runners Karp Fitness Vancouver

If we look at older generations and ask them how they exercised, the answer is likely “I just ran!” However, over the years the sport of running has evolved and running alone is not enough. These days, almost any sport involves some quantity of strength training. For runners, strength training is essential to preventing injuries and increasing strength.

Running has its own benefits, such as improving cardiovascular and respiratory health. But for those who are training to run longer or faster, there is a risk of being injured due muscles not being prepared for an increase in exercise intensity. This is because muscles must be trained for increases in speed or distance. Taking as little at 10-20 minutes a day to strength train can reduce injury rates and saves more time in the long run by avoiding recovery time from injuries.

Exercises runners should do:

There are many benefits to strength training. For runners, injury prevention and increased performance are the most obvious benefits. By training the muscles, runners can improve structural fitness. For example, the ability to withstand impact on bones, muscles, and ligaments can be strengthened with targeted exercises. Heavy resistance training can improve speed during the final sprint of a race. For injury prone runners and those training for marathons, strength training is particularly important. While running increases endurance, weight lifting counteracts the wear and tear on muscles and joints. Some simple strength training exercises include:

  • Compound movements: these can be used to train types of movements rather than muscles. Try some compound, multi-joint exercises such as deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, bench press, or step-ups. The goal is to target the functional movements of real life (such as bending down or pulling).
  • Bodyweight exercises: these exercises are great for recovery and building strength to prevent future injury. Build core strength to become stronger and more resistant to injury. Examples include lunges, planks, push-ups, side planks, bird-dogs, side leg-lifts, push ups, jump planks, etc.
  • Hip strengtheners: many running injuries are caused by weak hips. Hips are problematic for runners who spend a lot of time sitting, such as at an office job. Foam Rolling is one type of exercise for recovery and prevention of injury.

Scheduling your strength workouts

Including strength training in your running workout can seem daunting at first. Below are three guidelines to help incorporate exercises without disrupting your running routine.

  • Bodyweight exercises: there are bodyweight exercises that can be done with low-moderate effort and at any day of the week. Pick some bodyweight exercises and do them after your run to help with warm-down. It is a good idea to focus on exercises that target muscles that are not used as much with running, such as the back muscles and abdominals.
  • Weights: if you are using weights, save them for moderate effort days. Since strength workouts are higher intensity than a standard run, it’s best to train after running. To avoid the risk of injury, it is recommended to not strength train after long runs.
  • Build slowly: Rome wasn’t built in a day. You know your body best, aim for your personal goals but don’t push yourself too hard. Continue to add reps or exercises when you feel comfortable. Remember to keep a variety in your exercises; the body benefits more when your muscles are targeted differently.