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How Runners Can Get Stronger at the Gym

I have many clients come to me specifically because of past running injuries or because they are looking to prevent any future injuries.  So what is it that you need to do for a better chance of injury- free runs? Follow these six exercises to really amp up your “runner’s strength” and get a well-rounded workout for all the muscles you need to have a healthy and happy run.

  1. Straight-Leg Deadlifts
  2. Single-Leg Leg Extensions
  3. Plank with Sliding Abductor/Adductors
  4. Sliding Mountain Climbers
  5. Lateral and Front Shoulder Raises
  6. Back Squats

To make a great workout using these six exercises, make sure to choose weights that will bring on fatigue at 20 repetitions and do each exercise one after the other.  When the sixth exercise is complete, give yourself a one-minute break and begin again.  Repeat this regimen for four full rounds.

Straight Leg Deadlifts

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  • A great exercise to really focus on the hamstrings and lower back.
  • Both of these muscles have a significant job in runs and your lower back has to consistently endure the weight of your upper body’s impact from every step.
  • The exercise: Using a barbell (best method) or Dumbbells, stand shoulder width apart on your feet and straight up with weight in hands in front of your body.  Slowly lower your weight and upper torso toward the ground while keeping lower back completely straight and shoulders pulled back to keep your chest puffed out. Keep knees straight (but not locked) and go to a depth where a burning stretch is felt in your hamstrings.  Lift up slowly in the same manner you went down.  Finish with your butt tight and body straight up.
  • If you are very flexible, do this exercise on an elevated surface to be able to reach down further.

Single-Leg Leg extensions

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  • This exercise really focuses on all four muscles in your quadriceps in a way that you hardly ever use them, and therefore most people are weak in this movement.
  • Your quadriceps are very important when it comes to pushing your body for a fast start or speedy finish and are used extensively throughout your run, especially when your run involves hills.
  • The exercise:  Using a leg extension machine (best method) usually seated, put both feet behind the leg pad and set pad to be right above your ankle.  Using one leg, extend your foot and leg up at the knee joint. The pace should be 2 seconds up, at the top flex the quadriceps for about 1 second and slowly return down at a 3 second rate.
  • If you do not have an extension machine, use a cable machine in a standing position using ankle raps.

Plank with Sliding Abductors/Adductors

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  • Great for your abdominals, lower back and your hip abductors and adductors.
  • Hip muscles are some of the most under focused muscles in our body.  This exercise will multitask by really working the muscles that help to open and close your hips and legs all while stabilizing your entire core!
  • The exercise:  Find a hard wood surface or a surface with low friction (you can also use carpet sliders!). Set up in plank position and set feet on two separate hand towels.  For 30 – 60 seconds slide your legs open as wide as possible and close your legs bringing your feet all the way together for every repetition.  You can do this at a fast pace or slow.  Both are great!

Sliding Mountain Climbers

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  • Hip flexors abs and quadriceps will be worked here!
  • Remember, when your endurance running, you run for a lot of repetitions, So, sliding mountain climbers are GREAT for high repetitions in a short period of time.
  • The exercise:  Find a hard wood surface or a surface with low friction (you can also use carpet sliders!). This time in push-up position, have your toes on two separate towels on the hard surface and slide each knee up to your chest individually at a fast pace.  Do this for 30-60 seconds.  Slow or Fast paces are great!

Lateral and Front Shoulder Raises

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  • Works the front and side heads of your shoulders
  • During your run, its not just your hips, abs and legs working ya know.  Your shoulders are what give you that extra little push by swinging your arms!  Don’t forget these suckers!
  • The exercise:  Using dumbbells stand straight up with the weights in your hands in front of your hips.  First to do the front raise, lift the dumbbells directly in front of your shoulders to chin height at a 2 second pace, hold at the top for 1 second and lower at about 2-3 seconds. Next, raise the dumbbells directly to your sides at the same pace to chin height.  Both of the exercises together will equal only one repetition out of your 20 recommended.

Back Squats

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  • One of the ultimate exercises for all sports and athletes.  This exercise really focuses on your entire lower body and if you get low enough it will really help to activate your gluteus maximus aka butt.
  • When running, it will be the ultimate exercise to push you through that intense hill or mountain you are climbing.  And remember, ultimately it is going to be the quadriceps that will be worked during this exercise and this is the muscle that really needs to be strengthened in all runners.
  • The exercise:  There are multiple ways to do squats, but to focus more on your butt and posterior chain of the body, I’ve choses the back squat using a barbell.  Place barbell across your shoulders in a comfortable spot and centered.  Keeping your weight on your heels, slowly sit your butt back keeping your knees from going over your toes.  Squat down to where your hips are in line with your knees or just above and slowly stand back up pushing your hips forward and squeezing your glutes at the top.
  • To ensure best depth, put something behind you to tough your butt to for every repetition.

 

So try out these six killer exercises to really pump up your runs to a level that will blow your competitors out of the water! Happy Running!

Featured photo credit: Peter J. Bellis

Bron Volney

About the author:
Bron Volney

Bron is a fitness professional and full-time NASM Certified Personal Trainer in Boston, Massachusetts with a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise Science from Florida State University (FSU). He was named one of the top personal trainers in the US by Details Magazine, and runs Broncorefitness. You can follow him on Instagram at @BronCoreFitness.

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