My 5 Best Exercises for Runners
Maybe you want to be faster, more agile, lighter on your feet
Maybe you just want to not end up with two shot knees…?
Maybe running is starting to hurt and you finally have accepted it is time to tailor your exercise routine (or at least part of it) to some things that help your body adjust to the demands of long runs.
No matter the reason you want to know the best exercises to do for running, it is about time you start thinking about it so way to go you!
Let’s talk about the 5 best exercises every single runner could benefit from
Nothing fancy, you don’t need to take an extra 30 minutes of your precious time to do this every day. Nope. Just add it in to your regular strength workout.
I am not a running coach, I write this coming from the point of a personal trainer who sees so many runners (and ex-runners due to injury, HINT) come through looking for ways to start a workout program in order to prevent (or rehab from) injury. I am interested in working on exercises that will increase strength, stability, and flexibility through strength training to improve performance and reduce injury. So this is what we start with:
#1. Lateral Band Walks
step one. get a band.
step two. wrap it around your ankles and walk back and forth until you start to feel awkward (so like 2 steps). Try adding this in after your warmup, before your run.
Why it works: This is one of the best exercises to safely build hip strength and stability and increase stability of the knee joint. Strengthening the gluteus medius not only aids in hip stability, but releases stress on the knees by helping to keep your knees stable during high-impact exercise like running. A strong gluteus medius can help to decrease your risk of knee injury. knees knees knees knees.
#2. Squats of all varieties
Squats are just awesome. Anyone that trains with me will tell you I have a serious love affair with squats…so maybe take my extreme excitement about squats here with a grain of salt..? But also maybe don’t because squats are probably THE BEST thing you can be doing for your runner body. I am partial to bodyweight squats for runners because you can add them in anywhere, allow you to go through a full range of motion without putting too much stress on joints, and reduce the risk of injury. Squats help to build stable hips, while building glute muscles, which in turn will help the bounce and power of your stride. All of which will greatly improve running performance. Additionally, IT band problems are often linked back to weak hip abductors. Add bodyweight squats in after your next run!
#3. Single leg Glute Bridges
Most runners are probably aware of the idea that you do not want to have an excessive forward lean from the waist while running, yet many have this problem and could also be unaware of it. Often, this is a result of weak glutes, hamstring, and lower back. Without proper strength and conditioning in these muscles, it is far too easy to fall forward and lose the drive with your hips. Glute bridges focus on all of those crucial running muscles – glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. Not only that, it requires no equipment, can easily be done after your run, and is low-impact (for all those runners scared of injuring themselves in the gym..).
#4. Renegade Row
Great running requires more than just lower body strength and stability, you also need to be stable from your core up to your shoulders. With your core tight, and lower body under control, your shoulders and back need to hold position and do so without fatiguing. This means building strength and balance in the upper body. This moves activates your core while working the shoulders, upper back, biceps, and triceps. I love this compound exercise for knocking out a full body strength session and tackling core activation. Can be done on your knees as well. Bonus: holding a plank position works the quadriceps as well.
#5. Single leg toe touch
A runner with poor balance strikes me as very wrong. and yet, I see it everyday while training. Why is balance so important? Well, if you think about how much energy you use to dynamically and powerfully move through your run and how much stress that places on the hip joint – being balanced throughout your entire body during this is a major benefit for improving stability and reducing risk of injury. If you can’t balance while still, it might cue you to your balance and stability while moving swiftly. If this no-equipment single leg touch is no problem for you, take it up a single leg deadlift.
Try adding in these exercises during your normal strength training – I think you will notice a difference! I hope to continue this post with a follow-up about the benefit of multi-planar exercise, so look out for that one!