Best Weight Workouts For Runners
As a runner, you know the importance of a strong and fit body. While running is a great cardiovascular exercise, incorporating weight workouts into your training can help improve your overall performance and reduce the risk of injuries. Adding strength training exercises to your routine will help build muscular endurance, improve running form, and increase speed. In this article, we will discuss some of the best weight workouts for runners.
Squats are one of the best exercises for runners as they target multiple muscle groups including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core. They also improve stability and balance. To perform squats, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping your chest lifted, and your core engaged. Sit back and down as if sitting into an imaginary chair, while keeping your heels on the ground. Push through your heels to stand back up.
Lunges are another great exercise for strengthening the lower body. They target the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. To perform lunges, start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Take a step forward with your right foot, keeping your knee directly above your ankle. Lower your body until the right thigh is parallel to the ground. Push through your right foot to stand back up and repeat on the other side.
Deadlifts are an excellent exercise for strengthening the posterior chain, which includes the muscles in your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. To perform deadlifts, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a barbell in front of you. Bend at your hips, keeping your back straight, and grip the barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart. With a slight bend in your knees, lift the barbell by extending your hips and squeezing your glutes. Lower the barbell back down to the starting position with controlled movements.
Step-ups are a functional exercise that targets the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. They also help improve balance and stability. To perform step-ups, start by standing in front of a step or bench. Step one foot up onto the step and push through your front heel to lift your body up onto the step. Step back down with the same foot and repeat on the other side.
While not a weight workout, planks are an essential exercise for runners as they engage the core muscles, which are vital for maintaining proper form and stability during runs. To perform a plank, start by lying on your stomach. Place your forearms on the ground, elbows directly beneath your shoulders, and lift your body off the ground. Engage your core muscles and hold the position for as long as you can.
6. Russian Twists
Russian twists are great for targeting the oblique muscles, which help with rotational movements and stabilize the core. To perform Russian twists, sit on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Lean back slightly, engaging your core muscles. Hold a weight or medicine ball in your hands and twist your torso from side to side, tapping the weight on the ground on each side.
7. Single-Leg Deadlifts
Single-leg deadlifts are an excellent exercise for improving balance and targeting the hamstrings and glutes. To perform single-leg deadlifts, stand on one leg with a slight bend in the knee. Hinge at your hips, keeping your back straight, and lower your upper body while extending your free leg behind you. Keep lowering until your upper body and leg are parallel to the ground. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other leg.
8. Calf Raises
Calf raises target the calf muscles, which are essential for power and efficiency during running. To perform calf raises, stand with your feet hip-width apart and lift your heels off the ground, rising up onto the balls of your feet. Hold for a moment, then lower your heels back down to the ground.
9. Glute Bridges
Glute bridges are a great exercise for strengthening the glutes and hamstrings. To perform glute bridges, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Lift your hips off the ground until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Squeeze your glutes at the top, then lower your hips back down to the ground.
The clamshell exercise targets the gluteus medius, a muscle responsible for stabilizing the hips during running. To perform the clamshell, lie on your side with your knees bent and your feet together. Keeping your feet together, lift your top knee as high as you can while keeping your pelvis stable. Lower your knee back down and repeat on the other side.
11. Wall Sits
Wall sits are a simple yet effective exercise for strengthening the quadriceps and glutes. To perform wall sits, stand with your back against a wall and slide down until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold this position for as long as you can.
Push-ups are a great upper body exercise that engages the chest, arms, and core. To perform push-ups, start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Lower your body until your chest touches the ground, then push through your hands to lift your body back up to the starting position.
13. Bent-Over Rows
Bent-over rows are a compound exercise that targets the muscles in your upper back, shoulders, and arms. To perform bent-over rows, hold a dumbbell in each hand, hinge at your hips, and lower your upper body so that it is almost parallel to the ground. With your palms facing your body, pull the dumbbells towards your chest by retracting your shoulder blades. Lower the dumbbells back down and repeat.
14. Shoulder Press
The shoulder press targets the deltoid muscles in your shoulders, which are important for maintaining good arm swing and upper body posture while running. To perform shoulder press, hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height, palms facing forward. Press the dumbbells overhead until your arms are fully extended. Lower the dumbbells back down to shoulder height and repeat.
15. Side Plank
The side plank is a variation of the plank exercise that targets the oblique muscles. To perform a side plank, lie on your side with your forearm on the ground and your elbow directly below your shoulder. Lift your hips off the ground, engage your core muscles, and hold the position for as long as you can. Repeat on the other side.
Burpees are a full-body exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the chest, arms, legs, and core. To perform burpees, start in a standing position. Bend at your knees and lower your body into a squat position. Place your hands on the ground in front of you and kick your feet back, landing in a plank position. Jump your feet back up to your hands and explode upwards, reaching your arms overhead. Land softly and repeat.
17. Kettlebell Swings
Kettlebell swings are a dynamic exercise that targets the glutes, hamstrings, and core. To perform kettlebell swings, start with your feet hip-width apart and a kettlebell on the ground in front of you. Bend at your hips and knees to pick up the kettlebell, keeping your back straight. Swing the kettlebell back between your legs and then forcefully extend your hips to swing it forward and up to chest level. Let it swing back down between your legs and repeat.
18. Box Jumps
Box jumps are a plyometric exercise that targets the lower body, specifically the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. To perform box jumps, stand in front of a sturdy box or step. Bend at your knees and hips, then explode upwards, jumping onto the box and landing softly. Step back down and repeat.
19. Bicycle Crunches
Bicycle crunches are a great exercise for targeting the abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis and obliques. To perform bicycle crunches, lie on your back with your hands behind your head and your knees bent. Lift your head, shoulders, and feet off the ground, and extend one leg while bringing the opposite elbow towards the knee. Alternate sides in a pedaling motion.
20. Farmer’s Walk
The farmer’s walk is a functional exercise that targets the grip strength, forearms, and upper back. To perform the farmer’s walk, hold a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand and walk for a certain distance or time. Keep your core engaged and shoulders back.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Should runners only focus on cardio exercises?
No, runners should also incorporate strength training exercises into their routine to improve their performance and reduce the risk of injuries. Strength training helps build muscular endurance, improve running form, and increase speed.
2. How often should runners perform weight workouts?
It is recommended for runners to perform weight workouts at least two to three times a week. However, the frequency can vary depending on individual goals and training plans.
3. Can weight training make runners bulky?
No, weight training alone will not make runners bulky. Building bulky muscles requires a specific training program, nutrition plan, and often the use of performance-enhancing substances. Runners can focus on exercises that promote muscular endurance and strength without the intent of gaining excessive muscle mass.
4. Should runners use heavy weights or light weights?
Runners should focus on using moderate weights that challenge their muscles without compromising their running form or increasing the risk of injuries. It is important to maintain proper technique and gradually increase weights as strength improves.
5. Is it better to perform bodyweight exercises or use equipment?
Both bodyweight exercises and equipment-based exercises can be effective for runners. Bodyweight exercises can be done anywhere and are great for developing overall strength and stability. Equipment, such as dumbbells or resistance bands, can provide additional resistance and variety in workouts.
6. Can weight workouts improve running speed?
Yes, weight workouts can improve running speed by increasing muscular strength and power. Stronger muscles generate more force, allowing runners to have a more powerful stride and faster pace.
7. Should runners perform weight workouts before or after running?
The timing of weight workouts depends on individual preferences and training plans. Some runners prefer to do weight workouts before running to ensure they have enough energy for strength exercises. Others prefer to do weight workouts after running as part of their cool-down routine. Experiment with different timings to find what works best for you.
8. Can weight training help prevent running injuries?
Yes, weight training can help prevent running injuries by improving muscular strength and stability. Stronger muscles can better absorb impact forces and maintain proper running form, reducing the risk of overuse injuries.
9. Are there any weight workouts to specifically target certain muscle imbalances?
Yes, there are weight workouts that can target specific muscle imbalances. For example, exercises like single-leg deadlifts and clamshells can help correct imbalances between the left and right sides of the body. It is important to work with a trained professional, such as a physical therapist or strength coach, to identify and address specific muscle imbalances.
10. Can beginners perform these weight workouts?
Yes, beginners can perform these weight workouts. It is important to start with lighter weights and focus on proper form before gradually increasing intensity. Beginners may also benefit from working with a qualified personal trainer or coach to ensure proper technique and progress safely.
Incorporating weight workouts into your training routine as a runner is crucial for improving performance, reducing injury risk, and maintaining overall strength and stability. The exercises mentioned in this article target various muscle groups and can be modified to suit different fitness levels. Remember to always prioritize proper form, start with lighter weights, and gradually increase intensity and resistance over time. Consult a healthcare professional or qualified trainer if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns.