7 Effective Cardio Exercises to Prepare Your Body for a 5K Marathon

Cardio workouts are great to train your body for a marathon. (Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU via pexels)
Cardio workouts are great to train your body for a marathon. (Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU via pexels)

Regular cardio exercises are great when it comes to preparing your body for a 5K marathon.

They target all your major muscles and help prevent injuries and strains. As a runner, you don’t really need to push your body for weight lifting exercises.

A small amount of simple cardio exercise and strength training workout plans can go a long way in preparing your body for marathons. With cardio, you can prepare yourself in two to four weeks; but it depends on your personal preferences, such as your fitness level, experience and goals.

Cardio exercises for a 5K marathon

The below-mentioned exercises are some of the most effective and easy ones that’ll help you build strength and endurance for marathons. They can be easily done with little or no equipment.

1) Treadmill

Treadmill training is great if you want to track your speed and endurance or want to specifically focus on your cardiovascular fitness.

Running on a treadmill gives you the benefit of running on inclines without impacting your body. The lower cushioned surface of the treadmill absorbs shock and doesn't impact your joints. Also, it’s easier to track your pace and distance, and it'sconvenient, as you can practice it in the comfort of your home.

2) Squats

Squats are an effective cardio exercise. They work on your lower body and also strengthen your leg muscles.

Here’s how to do a squat:

  • Start by standing straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Squat down by pushing both your knees out.
  • Keep your butt back as if you are sitting on a chair.
  • While you squat, make sure your spine is straight, and your chest and shoulders are up.
  • Keep your head straight, and keep looking straight.

3) Glutes Bridge

Glutes Bridge is a productive exercise to strengthen your calf muscles and glutes.

Here’s how to do the glutes bridge:

  • Lie down on your back. Your knees should be at a 90-degree bent and both your feet flat on the floor.
  • Engage your glutes, and lift your hips so that your body is in a straight line from your neck to your knees.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds, and slowly return to the starting position.

4) Single Leg Dead Lift

This exercise challenges your body balance and core stability and targets your glutes and hamstrings.

Here’s how to do a single leg dead lift:

  • Stand straight on one leg. Slightly bend your knee.
  • Keep your back straight, your head up, and slowly hinge forward at your hips.
  • Lift your non-standing leg behind you.
  • Keep your knee and hip of your lifted leg fully extended throughout the exercise.
  • Now return to the starting position, and repeat the movement on each leg.
  • To make the exercise even more challenging, start by holding a lightweight dumbbell or barbell.

5) Step Up Drives

Step ups are an excellent exercise that works to improve the strength of your quads, hamstrings and glutes, while also helping to enhance the power in your stride.

Here’s how to do step ups:

  • Stand straight facing a bench or a step.
  • Keep your left foot on the bench. Use your left foot, and drive your right one off the floor, and take your knee high (assume a running position).
  • Lower your leg, and take the starting position again.
  • Complete ten reps with each leg.

6) Jump squats

Jump squats are a variation of the basic squats. The only difference between the two is that in jump squats you have to jump and squat down. This exercise is a great way to tone the muscles of your legs.

Here’s how to do a jump squat:

  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Squat down to the floor by pushing your knees out and your hips back.
  • Make sure your back and spine are straight, and your chest is out.
  • Look straight, and on your way up, push your body into the air through your heels, and land again in a squat position.

7) Lunges

Lunges are an effective exercise to strengthen your legs and lower body muscles.

Here’s how to do lunges:

  • Stand straight, and take a step forward with your right leg.
  • As you take a step forward, lower your hips in a way that both your knees are at a 90-degree bend.
  • Come back to your starting position, and repeat with your left leg.
  • If you want to modify, you may hold a dumbbell in each hand and make this exercise more challenging.


Training your body for a 5K marathon can be difficult, especially if you are a beginner.

However, with regular practice of cardio exercises, your body will soon adapt to the changes, and you’ll see great results in your running pace and endurance. Just give yourself sufficient time to prepare so that your body is able to perform at high intensity.

Edited by Bhargav