Strength training helps build muscle (obviously) which in turn gives you more strength for that kick at the end of the race, or for powering up that big hill. You may think running is enough to work your lower body, but you’d be surprised at some runners’ strength when they go to perform a squat or deadlift.
Furthermore, upper body lifting is just as important. Your arms drive you forward during a race. Your core keeps you upright. Wouldn’t you want these muscle groups to be strong as well?
For runners, an overall, whole-body workout routine is perfect. Performed 2-3x a week, it is a great addition to your running, and you will definitely notice improvements. When I started really lifting, and adding in squats, deadlifts, lunges of all varieties, core work and more, I noticed an improvement in how I felt on my runs, and in my times.
I have made a beginner’s workout routine that should take about 45 minutes. I recommend shooting for 3 times a week, but if you can only do it 2 times, that is ok too. I have included modifications for if you don’t have access to a gym, as well as YouTube links to show you proper form. A1 followed by A2 means you perform those exercises back to back, then rest for about 30-45 seconds. Repeat those 2 exercises for a total of 3 times before moving onto the “B” exercises. Everything is done in 3 sets (so repeat 3 times). Next to each exercise I have written the reps you should do.
A1- Goblet Split Squat (12 reps) – Holding a dumbbell or kettlebell up to your chest works your core while working your legs simultaneously, because you are working to stay upright.
A2- Assisted Pull ups (10-12 reps) – AMAZING upper body exercise that works your biceps and back. If you don’t have access to an assisted pull up machine, do a Dumbbell Row (10-12 reps)
B1- Dumbbell Step up (10 reps each leg) – Do 10 on one leg first, then switch. You can use a box or bench at a gym, or your staircase at home. This is a great move because it works quads, glutes and hamstrings
B2- Pushup (10 reps) – If you can’t do a full pushup do it on your knees. This works your upper body but also your core and lower back.
C3- Reverse Crunch 15 reps
If you plan on doing this workout on the same day as a run, I recommend run first and then lift. If possible, I would try to do strength workouts on off days from running.
Good luck! You can find more of my workouts on my site Reach Your Peak, along with other health and fitness tips. You can also follow me on Pinterest! Enjoy!
Patty Rivas is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, avid runner and fitness junkie. She is a current graduate student, but still finds time to run, exercise, and personal train/motivate others to reach their goals.