Strength and Conditioning
Strength and conditioning is very beneficial for runners. Having stronger muscles in your legs allows you to deliver more power when running, plus strengthening connective tissues (ligaments and tendons) can make you less prone to injury. It is not just important to increase your lower limb strength, but also your upper limb and core strength. Having a strong core enables you to maintain a stable upper body, minimising side to side movement. By increasing the strength in your arms, your arm drive will improve, meaning you can place more power into each stride.
Performing strength exercises that involve multiple joints and muscle groups enables you to target many areas at once, helping to increase your mobility, balance and speed. Strength training also doesn’t have to include using heavy weights or barbells, bodyweight exercises can still build strength whilst also working on your form. Start with a basic set of 3 sets of 10 reps of each exercise and gradually increase your weights. The heavier you then start to lift, the lower the reps should become.
Prior to starting a strength programme it is always best to consult a Personal Trainer or Physio to improve form and reduce injury risk. They will be able to help you make a plan for your strength journey.
Useful Strength Exercises for Runners
Here are some exercises that your trainer/physio may well suggest to improve your running performance:
- Press ups— Strengthens the chest, shoulders and arms to improve posture and arm drive.
- Bent over row— Strengthens the upper back to balance out chest strength
- Kettlebell swings— Focuses on total body control, working your glutes, lower abdominals, quadriceps and hamstrings as well as your arms.
- Tricep dips— Strengthens the arms and shoulders to help maintain an upright running position
- Step ups— Works your hamstrings, quadriceps and calves to improve running power
- Squats— Strengthens your hamstrings, quadriceps and calves, decreases your risk of injury and improves flexibility
- Walking Lunges— Improves single leg balance, stability and coordination when you run. Also enables you to run faster by increasing your stride length.
- Single leg Romanian Deadlift— Increases running power by strengthening the glutes and hamstrings as well as improving stability.
- Back Extensions— Strengthens the mid to upper back increasing stability, improving posture and improving running efficiency
- Glute bridge— Increases glute strength, maintains a level pelvis and improves stability
- Leg Raises— Strengthens your hip flexors and core