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Strength Training for Runners: 6 Effective Exercises You must Try!

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Take a moment to assess yourself before each run. Are your shoulders tensed or are your hips unbalanced while running? If you answered yes, then your posture is faulty, making you more prone towards running injuries. Working on your core muscles with exercises for strength training for runners and athletes, such as gluteals and obliques allows the organs, including the lungs, to function better and improves your running form.

We also suggest that you take short effective strides to avoid injuries of the ankles, hips, and knees joints. Train to maximize your VO2 max, which is the maximum volume of oxygen consumed by your muscles per minute. You can perform full body exercise for runners to have better posture by addressing lower-body muscles like a weak mid back.

6 Exercises Strength Training for Runners

Below are six injury prevention, exercises for strength training for runners of all levels that will make you a pro at running.

Single Leg Deadlift

It strengthens your hips, glutes, hamstrings, and back, making it one of the best exercises for runners. As quoted by personal trainer Sam Iannetta, “This is a powerful length and strength exercise, for hamstrings in particular.”

Also, consider reading Five Treadmill Workouts that Helped Me Run Better!

best exercises for runners deadlift
Single leg deadlift exercise

To start, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Next, raise your left leg out behind you and then transfer your weight to your right leg. Hinge at the hips to bend forward while extending your leg behind you, making sure that your body almost forms a “T”.

You need to keep your back flat and abs engaged. Stay in this position for some time, and then slowly return to start. You can try two-three sets of 10-12 reps per leg. You can also hold a weight such as a medicine ball to increase the difficulty level.


Looking for strength training for a marathon? Then glutes exercise is one of the best exercises for runners. Gluteus muscles commonly known as glutes are considered as the strongest muscles of the body and help in the proper movement of thighs and hips.

exercises to improve running form glutes
Glutes Exercises. Source

They prevent injuries, improve performance and help you to achieve your fitness goals. Since they generate the force which enables you to run, it is important that work on these muscles both before and after running. Start by lifting one leg out to the side. Try to draw football-sized circles with that leg.

Complete 10 circles in each direction with each leg. After running, it is necessary to release tension in your glutes. Cross one ankle above the opposite knee and try to sit on your hips back and down. Wait for 10 seconds and then switch sides. This is an exercise to improve running form, balance, and speed.

Lower Body Twists

This is another strength training for runners which is also called the Russian twists and works in strengthening the core of your body. Lie down on the floor, with your arms on the side of your body. Now gently lift your lower body such that your legs are parallel to the floor and knees are 90-degrees bent.

Russian Twists

Keeping your upper body upright, twist your legs to the right side and stay in the position for a minute and then come back to the original position and repeat the same for the left side. Repeat this strength training exercise for 10-15 times.

Backward Heel Walking

Remember the famous MJ’s moonwalk? That’s how you want to do this exercise. Stand straight with heels and toes pointed outwards and then take baby steps backward. Make sure that you maintain an upright posture and bend your ankles. This leg exercise for runners will improve hamstring flexibility, shin strength, and the overall balance.

strength training exercises
Backward heel walking Source

Moreover, when you indulge in this exercise, it prevents the common tendency of heel strike on the ground and protects your body from lower backache, pelvic misalignment, and spine pains. Make sure you walk on an even floor or walk with a friend so that you don’t trip and fall. This is also a total body exercise for runners as it burns calories.

Forward Diagonal Hop

This is an effective strength training for runners that will increase your ankle strength, improve your coordination and help you run faster. Warm up your body and start jogging for a minute or so, then move diagonally. As soon as your foot is placed on the ground, quickly hop to the place and then jump diagonally and continue doing so 15-20 times. Do this regularly and notice an improvement in your coordination and pace.

running strength exercises
Forward diagonal hop

Quadruped Limb Raises

These do wonders in improving your pace and is considered one of the best exercises for runners. For quadruped limb raises, go on all your fours and start by extending your left arm forward and right leg back, feeling the stretch between the heel of your right foot to the tip of left fingertips.

Quadruped Limb Raises
Quadruped Limb Raises

Hold the position for a few seconds and return to the original. Don’t forget to repeat the same with your right arm.

For quadruped trunk rotation, place your right hand on the back of your head. A great way to activate the back muscles and open up the chest. Lift your left leg and bring your left knee near your right elbow. Twist your upper body to the right while lifting your left leg up to the side. It’s important to maintain a 90-degree angle with the leg. Hold the position for a few seconds before returning to start. Repeat the same with your left hand.


This is one of the important exercises to improve running form. It targets your adductor muscles, hips, and glutes, improving your hip stability and activating your glutes on a run. First lie on one side with your knees bent and keep hips, elbows, knees, and feet stacked.

You can rest your head on your arm. Complete all reps on one side then switch to other. Slowly lift your knees towards the ceiling by rotating it from your hip and also keep your feet together. Stop again, slowly lower your knee back down to complete one rep. You can do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps per side.

exercises to improve running
Clamshell exercise Source

These exercises for strength training for runners will help you to develop the strength needed to handle the rigors of running and improve your running efficiency. By integrating a healthy amount of strength training and cross-training, you’ll gain the ability to run faster effortlessly, and decrease your risk of injury.

So, no more wondering about how to get better at running, indulge in these total body exercise for runners and you will definitely become a successful runner.

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