Regardless if you are brand new to the sport of running or you’ve been doing it for decades, one thing is true – and this is strength training can be added in as a hugely beneficial part of your overall routine. Even though some runners might think that adding in some form of resistance training to their workouts will make them gain muscle mass (think, bulky) and therefore make them slower in their runs, it can actually have the opposite effect!
Some forms of strength training (such as powerlifting) can add muscle mass, and this is the type of training you want to shy away from if you’re trying to focus on speed and endurance. That doesn’t mean you need to eliminate any type of strength work though! Workout programs that focus more on bodyweight exercises and functional movement are two of the best training scenarios for runners. Typically, the rep scheme is designed in such a way as to complete more repetitions in a given set, with a lightweight (or just bodyweight). Functional movements help to improve overall coordination and balance, utilizing the same movements that are usually done in everyday life – like squatting to pick up a child, or climbing stairs.
Bonus, many of these bodyweight movements are done sans equipment leaving you available to do them pretty much anywhere you want. No gym membership required for these movements – and not only will they help to strengthen your legs, core, and even your upper body, they’ll also help make you a better runner and decrease the risk of injury. Let’s take a look at seven of the best bodyweight exercises for a runner!
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and toes slightly pointed out. Sit your hips down and back (as if you were sitting on a chair), while keeping core engaged and chest up. Sink down until your upper thighs are parallel with the ground, ensuring that your knees don’t travel past your toes. Press through your heels and squeeze your glutes to return to a standing position.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and shoulders down and back. Take a large step forward with the right foot, and lower your back knee down towards the ground (your ending position should have both knees at 90-degree angles). From here, push through your right heel to come to a stand. Switch and continue with the left foot, alternating feet while walking forward. This can also be done while standing in place.
Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and feet firmly planted on the floor. Engage the core and press through your heels to lift your hips off the ground and up towards the ceiling, stopping when your body is in a straight line from shoulders to knees. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement, and then slowly lower your hips back down to the ground.
Start on hands and knees, facing the ground. Step your feet back into a pushup position, with feet together and wrists directly below shoulders. Squeeze your glutes and engage the core, ensuring that hips don’t drop down towards the floor or pike up toward the ceiling. Keeping shoulders down and back with head neutral, hold this position for time.
Sit down on the ground with knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Slowly lean back with your upper body until feet are hovering over the ground, and your upper body is angled back. Keep shoulders down and back, and place hands together. Slowly rotate your upper body to the right side and then to the left side while keeping the legs still.
Start on hands and knees, facing the ground. Step your feet back with legs straight and feet together, and place wrists directly under your shoulders. From here, bend your elbows and engage your core so that your chest is lowered toward the floor. Once in the bottom of the movement, press through your palms to bring yourself back up. This can also be done from the knees if modification is needed.
Lie face down on the ground with arms above your head and legs out straight behind you. Keeping your head neutral with the spine and core engaged, slowly raise your upper and lower body off the floor at the same time. Squeeze the glutes and ensure shoulder blades are down and back. From there, slowly lower back down toward the ground.