Four Great Exercises for Runners

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It’s important for everyone to balance cardio and strength training. However, runners in particular need a different form of strength training in order to increase their performance and endurance. While most people perform strength training exercises that aim to bulk up their muscles, runners need to focus primarily on balance. Use the exercises below as a supplement to your running routine to make you a faster, stronger runner.

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#1: Plank
This exercise is great for your core, shoulders and legs. It targets balance as well as breathing. There are also plenty of variations you can do to target different muscle groups.

How you do it: Begin in table top position, on the floor or an exercise mat if you have one. Lower down onto your forearms, making sure they are parallel to one another and your palms are faced down. Also ensure your elbows are directly underneath your shoulders. This will prevent potential injury. Extend both of your legs back so your feet are hip-width distance apart. The goal here is to create one long line with your body. Keep your gaze forward. Your hips need to be in line as well, not sagging towards the floor and not arching up to the ceiling. Sometimes it can help to practice in front of a mirror until you get the feel of proper form down. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute and release. Repeat two or three times.

#2: Squat & Press
This is a twist on a classic move that really targets your glutes and challenges your balance.

How you do it: Begin standing with your feet hip-width distance apart. Holding whatever weight you feel comfortable, raise your arms so they are parallel to the floor. If you don’t have a weight handy, use any slightly heavy household object. Lower into a squat position, making sure your knees don’t go over your ankles. Hold for one breath. As you stand up, press the weight above your head. Slowly release to the starting position and repeat. Try for 10-15 reps.

#3: Lunge
A classic move that works your core, legs and improves your balance.

How you do it: Start by standing with feet hip-width distance apart. Step your right leg forward and lower into a lunge position, making sure your knee does not go over your ankle. Do not touch your left knee to the floor, engaging your core to balance you. Either keep your hands on your hips or straight up overhead. Hold for one breath. Press back up to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Try for 10 reps on either side.

#4: Lower-body Twist
This move works your whole core, without you ever having to leave the mat.

How you do it: Begin by laying on the floor or mat, with your knees bent perpendicular to the floor. Have your arms outstretched to either side. Slowly lower your knees to the left side, as far down as they will go without you having to lift your right shoulder blade and without touching the mat. Slowly release back to center and repeat on the other side. Try for 10 reps on either side.

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