sports nutrition

Strength Exercises that Runners MUST Do to Progress

Hey Angels and Alphas,

You already know running is one of the best forms of exercise for people who want to improve their cardiovascular health, lose weight, and gain endurance. So much so that certain athletes in running-related sports spend the majority of their exercise hours running, be it for a marathon or another sport-specific activity.

We’ve talked about the importance of strength training in cardio-based sports in many posts, and today, we want to share our quick checklist of exercises runners can do to make sure they’re solving the most common challenges that runners experience. 

That being said, these challenges are related to bone health, muscle health, and joint health, and as runners spend so much time and energy training their skills and endurance, sometimes they leave out one important aspect of training – developing strength. With this quick checklist of exercises that any runner can easily implement into their day, you’ll be able to strengthen the foundation of muscle your body uses every time you go out for a run.

Let’s get started. 

First, the weighted calf raises. 

It’s one of the simplest exercises out there, yet it’s profoundly effective at developing calf strength and strengthening joints throughout your legs. All you have to do is get a step/platform and a weight, then stand on the platform with your heels hanging off the edge and use your other hand to hold on for balance. Then rep away. 

This exercise will help you build stability, strength, and extra endurance in one of the most important areas of your lower body, the calves. You might have built a lot of endurance in your calves but be lacking in strength – this will lead you to joint or mobility issues later on. To make sure you have a strong foundation of muscle, try calf raises. 

Second, the half-kneel hip flexor stretch.

When it comes to running, developing strength in your hips is crucial. And if you’re someone who runs all the time or trains consistently for marathons, chances are your hip flexors can quickly become strained and stressed. This can happen over time if you’re not recovering properly or not addressing small ailments that come and go. By doing this exercise, you’ll start strengthening your hip flexors and providing yourself with more power and stability while running. This will also translate into more endurance as you will be learning how to utilize your muscles more efficiently while running.

Third, Hip Bridges. 

Your glutes are the core of your running and inertia power, and this is an amazing exercise to make them both stronger. You start off lying on the ground with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Then squeeze your glutes and lift your hips, engaging the glutes, and hold at the top before you lower back down. It’s a wholly focused, controlled movement that must be done in a way in which your hips, knees, and shoulders are in a straight line to maximize intensity and hip development.

Fourth, Bulgarian Split squats. 

This exercise is similar to the lunge, but it will really ramp up the resistance you experience in your quads. It’s one of the best general exercises out there for runners. It’s essentially just like a lunge, done with one of your legs placed on a bench behind you. You keep your body as straight as possible and drop until one knee is at a 90-degree angle, and then your other knee (placed on the bench) is close to touching the ground. Add a dumbbell to this exercise, and you’re going to see why this exercise is notorious for its intensity.

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