More than 50% of runners sustain injuries each year. Runner’s knee, stress fractures, and IT band injuries are extremely common and may be due to muscle imbalances, among other factors.
One way to lower your risk of injury is to follow a well-rounded training program. Don’t limit yourself to running drills and other sport-specific exercises. Instead, pick up some weights and focus on building stronger muscles.
Sports organizations recommend strength training for runners. In one study, athletes who trained with weights experienced an 8% increase in running efficiency. Squats and other strength exercises can also improve muscle coordination, build overall strength, and boost explosive power.
Getting started is the hardest part. To help you out, we compiled a list of must-try exercises and tips for runners of all fitness levels.
Let’s dive in!
- Add Squats to Your Training Routine
The squat hits nearly every muscle in the body, including your quads, hamstrings, glutes, abductors, and abs. In the long run, it increases total-body strength and stimulates muscle growth.
As a runner, it’s important to strengthen the muscles around your knee joint. Weak quads and hamstrings may increase your risk of bursitis and other knee injuries. A bursitis knee brace can help prevent these issues and speed up healing, but you need to think long term.
With regular practice, squats can help you avoid knee injuries and boost running performance. Start with bodyweight squats and try more advanced variations as you gain strength. Pistol squats, single-leg squats, front squats, and landmine squats are all a great choice.
- Build Core Strength
A weak core can affect your performance and increase injury risk. Strong core muscles, on the other hand, support good posture, prevent low back pain, and improve your balance.
Note that crunches and sit-ups are not the best exercises for core strength.
Ideally, runners should perform movements that target the deep core muscles. These may include the plank and its variations, V-ups, V-sits, leg raises, stomach vacuuming, and others.
- Focus on Compound Movements
Compound exercises, such as the squat and push-up, engage all the major muscle groups while building strength. Over time, they may improve intermuscular coordination and movement efficiency.
Make sure your workout includes squats, bench presses, pull-ups, dips, lunges, and other compound movements. These exercises should account for at least 80% of your training routine. Plyometrics, such as box squats and lunge jumps, are just as beneficial.
- Develop Explosive Power
The best strength training programs for runners can boost explosive power, leading to improved performance. Plyometrics, Olympic lifts, sprints, and ballistic training are ideal for building explosiveness.
Ballistic exercises, for example, include jump squats, bench throws, and other dynamic movements. In the long run, they can increase the rate of force development and other aspects of running performance.
Strength Training for Runners Can Make You a Better Athlete
From weightlifting to plyometrics, there are plenty of ways to incorporate strength training into your workouts. For best results, combine these strategies and try more advanced movements as you progress.
The best part is, you don’t even need a gym membership to get started with strength training for runners. Experiment with bodyweight exercises or use dumbbells, resistance bands, and other basic pieces of equipment.
In the meantime, check out the rest of our Health and Fitness section for other tips! We’ll show you how to crush your next workout, how to get rid of sciatica pain, and more!