7 Best Strength Exercises for Running

Exercises to improve your running. Image via Pexels/Daniel Reche
Exercises to improve your running. Image via Pexels/Daniel Reche

Running is probably the easiest exercise one can do. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, improve your stamina, or just keep yourself active, running is one of the best options out there.

However, every good thing comes with its share of downsides so it’s always better to prepare yourself for anything. As with any form of training, it’s a good idea to condition your body for it.

Although running is a whole workout in itself, there are exercises you can do to train your muscles to be more agile and hence, allow you to perform better. So, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned runner, try out some strength exercises to make it better for you!

7 best exercises to improve running

Let’s take a look at some of the best exercises to strengthen your body for running.

1) Planks

Plank holds are an effective isometric hold amongst fitness enthusiasts. This hold will stabilize your core so you keep it active while running.

• Get onto all fours and prop yourself up on your elbows, letting your forearms bear the weight of your body. Straighten your legs out and extend them back so your entire body is supported on your elbows and toes.

• Brace your core. The tightening action of the muscles will engage them and hold your body in the plank position without your hips dropping or protruding out.

• Hold this for as long as you can. To begin with, start by holding the plank for 20 seconds. As you progress, you can increase the time you hold it for.

• Rest for a minute and repeat the hold.


2) Side plank with twist

The side plank itself is an effective isometric hold. Incorporating a twist in it can help strengthen your obliques and allow you to move more easily while running.

• Lay on your right side and prop yourself up on your right elbow. Stack your left shoulder right above it. Straighten your body by and bring your hips in line with your shoulders and feet. Stack your feet one on top of the other.

• Raise your left arm up toward the ceiling. Point your fingers upwards and keep them in the same line as your right elbow and shoulder.

• Keeping your core tight, twist your upper body and loop your arm through the gap between your body and the ground. Do not rest it on the floor.

• Twist your shoulders back and loop your arm out. Lift it up to the starting position, stacked above your shoulders.

• Repeat this movement, alternating sides, for 10 to 15 reps on each side.


3) Russian twists

This is another great exercise for strengthening your abs and obliques, allowing for better hip movement.

• Sit on the ground with your legs bent in front of you. Lean back slightly, lift your feet off the ground and balance yourself on your pelvic muscles. Keep your core engaged and shoulders up to avoid slouching.

• Link your hands together in front of your chest, or hold a weight. Maintaining balance, twist your upper body to the left, move your hands with it and turn your shoulders in the same direction. Then twist to the other side.

• Repeat this movement, alternating sides, for 10 to 15 reps on each side.


4) Squats

Squats form the base for any leg exercise. This will strengthen your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. Strong legs mean better ability to run!

• Stand straight with your feet hip-distance apart and your shoulders tall. Ensure your back is straight.

• Make sure your feet are firm on the ground, and push your hips back, lowering them by bending at your knees and hips. Keep your back straight and lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground.

• Push yourself up by straightening your legs to return to the starting position.

• Repeat this movement for 12 to 15 reps.


5) Lunges

These are absolute killers for your quads and glutes, but they’ll help you push more while running, improving your strides.

• Start by standing straight with your feet together. Ensure there is enough room ahead of you to take at least 20 regular steps.

• Bring your right leg out and place it about a foot ahead of you. Lower your body into a lunge position while keeping your back straight and shoulders tall. Inhale as you do this.

• Exhale and straighten your legs. As you do this, shift your weight to your right leg and step forward, bringing your left leg and placing it ahead of you, lunging on that leg next.

• Repeat the move until you have done about 10 reps on each leg. You may even hold dumbbells as you progress.


6) Drinking bird

This is a single-leg variation of the Romanian deadlift, a move to strengthen the hamstrings. The drinking bird allows for concentration on each leg, improving stability and balance while running.

• Stand straight with your feet together. You may bend your right knee a little to raise your right foot up and hold it stationary in the air.

• Maintaining the balance on your left leg, hinge at your hip and bend forward slowly. Extend your arms out in front of you as you bend forward and bring your torso parallel to the floor. You may simultaneously extend your right leg out behind you to counterbalance.

• Lower yourself until your fingers are almost touching the floor. Ensuring your back is straight, straighten yourself up and return to the starting position.

• Repeat this movement for 10 to 12 reps on each leg.


7) Overhead press

This is an upper body exercise that improves overall stability in the body and helps improve your posture by strengthening your shoulders. This will prevent you from slouching while running.

• Stand straight and grip the barbell in both hands. Bring it up to your collarbones and hold it there. This is the starting position. Breathe in.

• Upon exhalation, push the barbell up above your head. Straighten your arms completely and squeeze your shoulders.

• Lower it back down to the starting position slowly.

• Repeat this movement for 10 to 12 reps.


Perform these strength exercises three or four times a week, and you’ll be seeing vast improvements in your running. Your body will even recover from soreness and muscle pulls faster than usual. As with any training, don’t forget to warm up and stretch before and after. Keep the cramps at bay!

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Edited by Aditya Singh