Benefits of Strength Training: 5 Running Exercises that Work

runners doing a low lunge

As a runner, it’s easy to focus on the running part and we often neglect the other important aspects of being a strong, healthy runner. For example, strength training involves running exercises that strengthen our muscles, help reduce your risk of injury, and can even make you faster.

Distance runners don’t need to spend a ton of time at the gym lifting heavy weights. There are many running exercises you can do without even leaving home or that you can incorporate into your run as part of your warm-up, cool-down, or in the middle of your run. Strength training simply doesn’t have to take a ton of extra time, but you’ll reap a plethora of benefits.

Here are five running exercises that will help you strong, limber, improve your running form, and allow you to enjoy this fantastic sport long-term!

1. Forward Lunges

This strength exercise works your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and your core.

woman doing lunges

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Step forward with your right leg, lowering it down until your right knee is bent at a 90-degree angle
  • Press all the way down so you can feel it in your right heel
  • Return to your starting position and repeat with your left leg to complete one rep
  • Do 10 to 15 reps on each leg

If you want to make it a little more challenging, you can raise your arms during this exercise and hold a dumbbell or medicine ball. You’ll feel the burn in your arms and your legs!

2. Planks

This bodyweight exercise doesn’t involve any equipment and works your lower back, core, and shoulders.

man doing a plank

How to do it:

  • Lay on the floor and hold your body weight on your forearms with your shoulders above your elbows–this is called plank position
  • Raise your feet so your toes are the only part touching the floor
  • Squeeze your legs and glutes to support your body weight
  • Keep your abdominal muscles tight and hold your body in a long, straight line for about 30 to 60 seconds. Add time as you get stronger.
  • Repeat for about five to eight reps

You can increase the intensity of this exercise by lifting one leg at a time into the air for about 10 seconds each time, making the rest of your body work harder to support your weight.

3. Push-Ups

This is a simple, classic exercise that packs a powerful punch for runners, It works your arms, core, and lower back.

man doing a push up

How to do it:

  • Lay down on your stomach, just like you started with on the plank
  • Push up with your hands in front of you shoulder-width apart
  • Bring your whole body down, remembering to keep your rear in line with the rest of your body–don’t push your butt up in the air!
  • Come back up. That’s one push up.
  • Start with about five or 10, depending on your strength level. Add more as you build strength.

To make this exercise a little harder, place your hands in a triangle on the floor with your thumbs and pointer fingers. See how many push-ups you can do like that!

4. Box Jumps

This is a plyometric exercise that works your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, helping to build power and speed.

How to do it:

  • Get a box you can easily jump on with two feet. You can find them in the gym, use a step, or buy one cheap at the store
  • Stand facing the box, about six or so inches in front of it
  • Bend down into about one-fourth of a squat and swing your arms behind you
  • As you bring your arms forward, push through your feet and propel up to jump onto the box
  • Stand up on the box while squeezing your glutes
  • Aim to do about three sets of ten, increasing your sets as you get stronger

You can make this exercise more difficult by using a higher box to jump on as you progress and get stronger. Have fun with it!

5. Tuck Jumps

This is another great exercise for building leg strength. It works your quads, glutes, and hamstrings to the max.

How to do it:

  • Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart
  • Bend down into a squat and pull your arms back
  • Jump up, bringing your arms forward and your knees up into your chest. Your elbows should be able to rest on your knees
  • Land softly and repeat. Complete about five sets with 10 reps each. As you get stronger, increase the number of reps in each set. It’s also a great cardio exercise that will get your blood flowing and heart beating fast!

6. Russian Twists

Here’s an excellent exercise that only requires a dumbbell or medicine ball. It works your core and obliques to help improve your running form.

How to do it:

  • Sit on the ground with your knees bent in front of you at a 90-degree angle
  • Clasp your hands in front of your chest, holding the dumbbell or medicine ball
  • Tighten your abs and rotate your upper body from side to side, keeping your back straight and rotating from your hips. The dumbbell or medicine ball should lightly touch the floor with each rotation.
  • Once you’ve rotated to each side one time, that counts as one rep. Complete 10 to 12 reps for three to four sets.

Incorporate these strength training running exercises into your regular routine to become a better runner. You don’t have to do them every day, but if you take 10 minutes to do them two to three times a week, you’ll become a faster, stronger runner–and be less likely to develop injuries that keep you off your feet.

Are you ready to bring your running to the next level? Don’t forget to download our new mobile app. It’s loaded with workouts, videos, tips, and advice from expert coaches to keep you motivated every step of the way. Plus, be sure to check out our range of training plans for runners of all levels, too!