6 Best Strength Training Exercises for Marathon Runners

Try exercises to become a better marathoner. (Image via Unsplash/ Isaac Wendland)
Try exercises to become a better marathoner. (Image via Unsplash/ Isaac Wendland)

If you're a runner, you know that the sport is primarily about endurance and other related exercises. Running also requires strength, especially if you're training for long distances, like marathons and ultramarathons.

So what kind of exercises can help build up your muscles and improve your performance? Here are a few excellent strength training exercises that can help you become stronger and faster on the road.

Strength Training Exercises for Marathon Runners

Here's a look at six such exercises:

1) Squat

Squats are one of the best strength training exercises for runners, as they work the legs and hips in a range of motion that closely mimics running. They're also easy to do on your own at home, as long as you've got some space around and a chair or bench to support yourself while resting between sets.

How to do squats:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding light dumbbells in each hand, if possible (if not just use the weight of your arms).
  • Keeping your back straight, bend at the knees till they're at 90 degrees (or lower if comfortable). Return back up again by squeezing your glutes together and pushing through with the heel of each foot.
  • Don't lock out at any point during this exercise; instead, keep that constant tension throughout so that every rep counts.


2) Lunge

Lunges are a great exercise for building strength and flexibility in your legs. There are several different variations you can do to challenge different muscles, including dumbbell lunges, barbell lunges, and bodyweight lunges. You can also make the lunge more challenging by doing it with weights on your back or holding two dumbbells in each hand.

When doing dumbbell or barbell lunges, it’s important to keep both knees locked out as you step forward so that your front leg is fully extended at the bottom of each rep.


That helps ensure that you're working primarily with your front leg rather than taking a step that'stoo short or long relative to its corresponding rear leg, which could lead to poor form over time (and pain).

3) Leg Curl

Leg curls are a great exercise for strengthening the hamstrings. This muscle group is often neglected in running, so runners should take some time to focus on it.

You can incorporate this workout into your warm-up or as part of a strength routine on its own. You can do them with or without weight and with or without a machine.


Some people prefer doing leg curls with an exercise partner holding their feet in place so that they don't have to hold up as much weight themselves.

4) Plank

Planks are one of the best exercises to strengthen the core and improve posture. They're also a great way to build strength and endurance in your back, shoulders, and arms. You can do planks at home or at the gym, with or without weights.

To perform planks:

  • Start on all fours, with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  • Stabilize your spine by lifting just one hand off of the floor to make sure you don't sway from side to side; that'll help you maintain proper alignment throughout this exercise.
  • Once in position, breathe normally for ten seconds before lowering down onto your forearms for 30 seconds (or as long as possible).
  • This modification targets more upper body muscles than standard plank variations, as it requires more stabilization from shoulders down through elbows into wrists rather than just focusing on core muscles like other versions do. That makes them perfect if you're looking for an alternative workout routine that still delivers results.


5) Pull-up

Pull-ups are a great strength exercise that can help you run faster and longer. They also work your forearms, core, upper back, and shoulders - all of which are used during running.

Pull-ups strengthen your lats (latissimus dorsi), the muscles that run along the sides of your body from underarm to waistline. These muscles help propel you forward as you run. Pull-ups strengthen those muscles so that they can do this job better when it matters most—at mile 20 in a marathon or when it’s time to break away from the pack during an exciting race at mile 2.


The biceps in each arm also contribute significantly to pulling power during running. It does that by helping lift the knees off of the ground when you need extra push-off strength from your legs while running uphill or sprinting towards the finish line in races.

6) Push-up

Push-ups are a great exercise for the upper body, core, lower body, and upper back. They’re also one of the simplest exercises, and don't need to go to the gym or buy any equipment to do them.

Doing push-ups on your knees is a good starting point. That gives you an idea of what it feels like to do a proper push-up before you progress to doing them from your feet (the proper position).


If that gets too easy for you, try adding weights, such as dumbbells or even cans of food in each hand (if they're not too heavy).


We hope that this article has given you some ideas on how to incorporate strength training into your running routine.

As mentioned before, there are many ways to approach this type of training and many exercises that can be incorporated into your workout. The important thing is not what exercise you choose but how much effort goes into each one.

If you want results from the time spent lifting weights, make sure you not only complete your reps but also finish with some sort of active recovery like walking or jogging at a slow pace.

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Edited by Bhargav
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