5 Gym Exercises All Runners Should Do To Improve Their Strength

So, you’ve nailed your form, endurance and speed, but wondering how you can take it up a notch?

Strength training.

Strength training with weights is often seen as something that contradicts regular running training, especially for those who run longer distances, where gaining muscle and weight is often seen as a downfall. However, strength training is highly beneficial to every runner and should be an essential part of your routine. Strengthening your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes is the key to delivering more power and can also make you less prone to injury.

Although it isn’t just your lower body that you should work out, your upper body is just as important but tends to be the most neglected in a runners workout. Next time you go for a run, try not using your arms and let them just swing down by your sides. You’ll notice that you have less momentum and that the rhythm of your legs will be off, strengthening your arms and shoulders is just as beneficial as your lower body; the same also goes for your core, which aligns your balance and posture. 

Therefore, a full-body workout is the key to strengthening your body and your run. Here are five exercises that you should practice at least twice a week to get the results you want. 


Exercise 1- Weighted Squats

Targets: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, adductors, hip flexors and calves. 

Reps: 5

Sets: 3

Squats are the perfect exercise for runners as it works the entirety of your lower body. There are many variations of squats that all target different muscle groups (wall squats, split squats and single-leg squats are some examples) but the basic weighted squat will achieve desired results.

If you’re not confident with weights to begin with, then just practice without a weight and perform bodyweight squats for the same reps and sets. 

Exercise 2- Weighted Lunges

Targets: Glutes, quads and hamstrings. 

Reps: 5 (on each leg) 

Sets: 3

Similar to the squat, the lunge works most of the muscles in the lower body but each leg is worked independently, which can identify weaknesses that can lead to injuries. Lunges tend to also stretch out the hip flexors, which can give runners the ability to have more control over their hips, this can be a frequent problem for regular long-distance runners. 

Again, if you are not confident in performing this exercise with weights, then try it without and build your strength first. 


Exercise 3 Bench Press:

Targets: Pectorals, deltoids and triceps. 

Reps: 5 

Sets: 3

This exercise works the upper body in areas that will benefit runners the most. It works the muscles of your middle and upper back and core, all of which can improve your posture and endurance. This exercise can also help support deeper breathing, this is because your pectorals are attached to your ribs which expand with every breath whilst on a long-distance run.

Exercise 4- Press Ups:

Targets: Pectorals, rotator cuffs, triceps and biceps. 

Reps: 10 

Sets: 2

Similar to chest press, this exercise works most of the areas in the upper body to improve posture and arm drive when running. This exercise can greatly benefit the joints in your shoulder, leaving you with more mobility and less prone to injury.

Exercise 5-  Glute Bridges:

Targets: Glutes and core. 

Reps: 15

Sets: 2

From targeting the glutes, this exercise can help align your pelvis and torso when running, which can boost stability and therefore running efficiency. It also activates and strengthens your core stabilizer muscles, which can massively improve balance, ensuring that you recover quickly from small missteps whilst running. 

Written by – Kate Goodman

5 Gym Exercises All Runners Should Do To Improve Their Strength – if you enjoyed this try our article on the fastest parkruns