Essential Strength-Training Moves For Runners

If running is your go-to cardio, strength training should be part your workout routine, especially if you're training for a race. Working with weights, or simply doing body weight exercises, will help make you stronger, which can improve your running, making you faster and more efficient. That extra bit of muscle can help prevent overuse injuries. To balance out a runner's overworked legs, Equinox trainer Lauren Fairbanks recommends that runners strengthen four often neglected areas: the glute max, the glute med, the core, and the upper back.

Glute Max
The glute max is the biggest of all the butt muscles, hence the inclusion of max in its name. The glute max helps power your run, especially uphill.

  • Step-ups: This exercise is great for building power in your backside. It trains your glutes for climbing inclines.
  • Weighted walking lunges: Walking lunges feel a little like running in slow motion. This exercise mimics the action of running with the glute max engaging to push your pelvis forward. Adding dumbbells to this exercise makes the glutes work just a little bit more, and that's a good thing.

Glute Med
The glute meds, found on either side of the pelvis, help keep you stable while running. This stability helps keep the knees, hips, and lower back in proper alignment as you pound out the miles.

  • Lateral band walks: This simple and effective move should be done until you feel the glute meds burn. Be sure to step to the side with the heel making contact before the toe to fire up the butt muscles.
  • Side lunge curtsy lunge combo: Lunges are great for working the legs, but this particular combination targets the glute med over the the glute max. By working laterally, these two lunges make the legs work through a large range of motion, strengthening the glute med from a variety of angles.

A strong core means your torso can support itself as your legs propel you forward while running. A stable torso helps you run more efficiently and effectively, while protecting the lower back from overuse injuries.

  • Elbow plank with donkey kick: Elbow plank challenges the core on its own. But when you lift a leg up holding the position, you mimic the action of running, forcing the abs and back to work harder to keep the pelvis still. Work on keeping the pelvis immobile as the leg donkey-kicks toward the ceiling.
  • Side plank with leg lift: Working in the side plank teaches the torso lateral stabilization. The less swaying in the torso while running, the better.

Upper Back
Rounded shoulders and a slumped posture make breathing a challenge when running. A strong upper back helps keep the chest open so your lungs can do the work they need to.

  • Standing reverse fly with band: This exercise stretches the chest while training the muscles the pull the shoulder blades together.
  • Upright row with cable pulley: Standing for this rowing variation works the upper back in an upright posture similar to running, which will translate better to the road than the bent-over row will.

Source: Megan Wolfe Photography at J+K Fitness Studio