Fitness Articles

4 Must-Do Strength Training Exercises for Runners

Build Strength and Power, Decrease Injury Risk

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Runners are a breed all their own. I can say that because I am a runner. We can be quirky about our race rituals and to outsiders looking in, our lives seem to revolve around a "boring" sport of putting one foot in front of the other. But as any runner knows, it's not really that simple (or boring!), to try to fit in fartleks, quarters, repeats and speed work along with your hills, distance runs, and race days. Mile after mile, we pound the pavement—rain, cold or sun—to reach our goals.

No matter what type of runner you are, or how many races you have under your belt, we all share one common goal: to be better runners. We want to get faster, run farther, be more efficient, and stay injury-free. But if we hope to reach this goal, we must do more than just run. It is important to incorporate other exercises into our workout plans, as well as some rest, if we hope to reach our full running potential.

Strength training is an important form of exercise for serious athletes and recreational exercisers alike, because not only does it help you build lean muscles that power your body through tough runs, but it also fires up your metabolism to help with weight-control and strengthens your bones against age-related deterioration. A solid strength training program can help runners achieve a more balanced musculature for greater power and a lower injury risk.

Here are some of the moves every runner should include as part of their strength-training program, along with an explanation of why each exercise is so important for runners.

Squats are the single most effective exercise that you can perform to strengthen the entire lower body. Squats target the quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, hip flexors, and glutes, and even activate your core. When done properly, they can also help strengthen your knees and prevent knee pain and injury. Here are a few ways to do them, based on your fitness level and equipment available:
Beginner Exercises Advanced Exercises

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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

  • Sorry--I couldn't get past the cover photo. The bare midriff and short shorts with her a** hanging out--Seriously?! Looks like something you'd see in Maxim, not on Spark People. I found it inappropriate.

    I'm not a runner, but might have checked out the content if that photo wasn't plastered on the pages. - 1/31/2016 11:19:37 PM
    I'm not a runner but these are great exercises to do - 9/13/2015 1:19:12 AM
  • Loved this article and the photos included. Please do more like this! - 3/24/2015 12:30:13 AM
  • I used to do some of these years ago when I was an avid runner but had stopped. Thanks for the reminder. - 9/24/2014 3:04:10 PM
  • I'm out of the running game for the next few months, but I stopped by to remind myself of the exercises I should be doing to make it easier to get back into it again. Yay, runners! - 6/18/2014 1:20:58 PM
  • Thank you for all the info. It has been very helpful - 10/27/2013 10:02:04 AM
  • I stop doing alot of these. Have to get back into them. I saved it so I can do some that I wasn't doing. - 9/29/2013 9:43:19 AM
  • Good moves to do throughout the day. Thanks - 7/23/2013 7:35:23 AM
  • I'm not a runner, but I used this article for a workout today by doing some of each one. Ooh, I can tell I haven't been consistently working out! - 7/21/2013 4:06:20 PM
  • Oh, I also wanted to say that your cardio doesn't have to come from 'running', you can use these exercises to strengthen your stamina for WALKING too, which everyone can do!
    I started walking my dog last year, and she was a younger pup, so before I knew it, I was running with her and though I've 'hated' running for 35 years, I love it now! a brisk walk is still a really good workout! - 3/6/2013 5:58:24 PM
  • Thank you for letting us know how to save articles! I never even looked at that tool on the far left side of the screen! - 3/6/2013 5:55:57 PM
  • Hey don't forget to do chest and shoulders! Keeping good posture is a must, especially when running. Every step during a run pulls down on your upper body. - 12/9/2012 9:44:42 PM
  • Very interesting. I had not thought about this before. - 12/9/2012 1:26:17 PM
  • We don't all run. I am a swimmer. What is the best strength training program for me? - 9/27/2012 6:40:27 PM
  • 2 sets of 15 planks? That seems like overkill, as does 2 sets of 15 supermans. I think that must be a mistake. Those set/reps make sense for squats, lunges and crunches, but not the other 2 exercises. - 9/27/2012 12:03:20 PM

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