1. Increased Endurance: Strength training helps your body better deal with the stresses of running. Your muscles will be able to perform longer before getting fatigued, which will help you maintain proper running form, improving efficiency and endurance.
2. Injury Prevention: Many running injuries, especially knee and hip-related issues, are a result of muscle imbalances or weaknesses. When muscles get tight, they become weak and are more susceptible to injury. Strengthening your muscles, especially the muscles of the core and lower body, will help correct these imbalances leading to less aches and pains and more importantly, less injuries.
3. Increased Speed: Strength training is an excellent way to get faster. Strength training will, of course, improve your overall strength, but also improve your body’s efficiency to use energy and oxygen. By becoming more conditioned, you will be able to improve your overall pace..
4. Weight Management: Strength training builds lean muscle mass and lean muscle mass boosts metabolism. Our bodies adapt quickly to steady state cardiovascular training, causing us to plateau. Including strength training along with cardio in your workout routine is essential for weight loss as well as weight management.
Below is a list of exercises that are very beneficial for runners. These exercises offer a great foundation to any strength training program because they improve core and functional strength for total body conditioning. Most of these exercises can be done with little to no equipment in the comfort of your own home. Keep in mind as your body becomes stronger, you will need to progress these exercises to continually challenge yourself. To see the benefits of strength training, you will need to do these and other strength exercises 2-3 times per week. Alternating running days with strength training days is the best way to allow your muscles time to rebuild between strength training sessions while keeping up with your running schedule. As a reminder, never begin an exercise program without first consulting your physician. If you feel any pain during these or any other exercises, be sure to stop the exercise and talk to your doctor.
To perform a plank, begin in a prone position with your legs straight and your elbows tucked underneath your body. Lift your body up to hover over the ground, evenly distributing your weight from your elbows to your toes. Pull your belly button into your spine and keep your back flat. Begin by holding 20-30 seconds for 2-3 sets and progress to longer holds as you become stronger.
Start in an all-fours position with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Inhale and lift your right arm parallel to the floor and extend your left leg behind you, also parallel to the floor. Pull your abs in to keep your back flat. Exhale and lower arm and leg to start position, inhale and perform on opposite side. Do 10 repetitions (5 per side alternating) for 2-3 sets.
Begin on all-fours, then straighten your legs out coming on to your toes and place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Contract your abs to keep your back flat and slowly lower your chest down towards the floor, bending your elbows to 90 degrees. Avoid modifying the push up by coming onto your knees because that will recruit less core muscles making it a less effective exercise. If this movement is difficult to execute on the floor, incline your upper body by using a stair, low table or even a counter top or the wall. Do 10 repetitions for 2-3 sets.
Lying flat on your back, place your feet hip distance apart. Lift your toes up so that just your heels are on the ground. Press your low back firmly into the floor, contract your glutes and lift your hips up. Hold at the top of the bridge for a 3 second count, lower glutes back down and repeat. Engage your inner thigh muscles so that your legs can remain parallel to one another throughout the entire exercise. Do 10 repetitions, 2-3 sets.
Sagittal Lunge (Front Lunge)
Begin in a standing position with your feet together. Step your right foot out in front of you, reaching your arms forward. Bend both knees to 90 degrees, lowing your back knee as close to if not all the way to the ground. Be sure to keep your front knee above your ankle, driving your knee too far forward puts stress on the knee joint. Step right foot back together with your left foot. Perform 10 repetitions per leg, 2-3 sets.
Frontal Lunge (Side Lunge)
Begin in the standing position. Step your right foot out wider than your hips, with feet parallel to one another, toes facing forward. Bend just your right knee, driving your right hip down and back. Reach your arms in front of you. Again, be sure to keep your knee above your ankle. Push off the right foot and bring the feet back together. Perform 10 repetitions per leg, 2-3 sets.
Begin with feet together. Step your right foot out and back, making a perpendicular line with your heels. Bend your right knee only, driving your right hip down and back. Reach your hands in front of you, above your right thigh. Rotate your right foot back forward bring your feet back together. Perform 10 repetitions per leg, 2-3 sets.
Body Weight Row with TRX
Using a TRX or similar suspension system, grab a hold of the hand grip and align your body at an angle (the lower your body is to the floor, the more challenging the exercise becomes). Begin with our arms straight in front of your chest and pull your body up towards the handles, bending your elbows close to your sides. Keep your back flat, abs engaged and hold for 3 seconds, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Release back to start position and repeat for 10 repetitions, 2-3 sets.
Roll Out with TRX
Begin in a standing position with your hands on the grips at in front of your body. Contract your abs, extend your arms in front of you and lean your body forward, all while keeping your back flat. Slowly draw your straight arms back towards your body, returning to your start position standing up tall. Do 10 repetitions, 2-3 sets.