Strength exercises for runners: 7 exercises to do everyday + 3 bonus workouts - Run With Caroline - The #1 running resource for women (2023)

If you’re stuck at home but would like to keep up with your strength training routine, the good news is there are many exercises that you can do from the comfort of your own home.

In this guide we’ll look at 7 exercises to do everyday either as home or in the gym.

In order to become a better runner, run faster and stronger for longer, you need to be dabbling in ancillary work like strength training.

Strength exercises like the ones in this guide are important for runners because they help you build stronger muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissues.

They also improve your power and lower your risk of injury, and contribute to better running form.

In other words, they help you run more efficiently!

In this guide we’ll explore:

  • What are strength exercises for runners?
  • Why are strength exercises important for runners?
  • What are the best strength exercises for runners?
  • How to do strength exercises for runners
  • Tips on completing strength exercises
  • 7 exercises to do everyday
  • 3 bonus workouts

Ready?

Let’s go!

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What are strength exercises for runners?

A strength exercise is any exercise that makes your muscles work harder than normal.

The aim of a strength exercise is to increase your muscle’s strength, size, power and endurance.

Strength exercises involve the use of resistance. Resistance can be in the form of your own bodyweight or a free weight like a dumbbell or medicine ball.

Muscle-strengthening exercises include bodyweight exercises like squats and planks, lifting weights and resistance band exercises.

Related: The ultimate 30 day strength training plan for runners

Why are strength exercises important for runners?

Strength exercises are important for runners as they help to strengthen the key muscles you use for running, such as your glutes, hamstrings and calves.

They also strengthen your joints and connective tissues and more importantly make you less prone to common running injuries.

A 2016 study showed that “strength training can significantly improve maximal- and reactive-strength qualities in competitive distance runners”.

Exercises that target your core strength are also beneficial for runners as a good core means you are able to hold a strong and stable position for longer.

Strength exercises also increase your ability to perform everyday tasks, such as lifting heavy shopping bags or picking up your children, so they have key functional benefits as well.

Related: The ultimate 30 day workout challenge for runners

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What are the best strength exercises for runners?

Exercises that target your legs, arms and core are recommended for runners as running is considered a ‘total body’ movement.

  • Legs. Stronger leg muscles can deliver more power when running.
  • Arms. By developing strength in your arms, you’ll improve your arm drive so you can dictate your pace a lot more easier.
  • Core. A stronger core means you are able to hold a strong position for longer, without slouching.

Strength exercises that build strength, agility and explosiveness are good for runners as they help you complete all types of runs, including speed training sessions and hill sprints.

Related: Strength training exercises for runners: The complete guide + 30 sample exercises

How to do strength exercises for runners

The best place to start is to familiarise yourself with some basic bodyweight exercises.

Bodyweight exercises are great for beginners because you don’t need any equipment to do them (your body is the resistance/weight).

These exercises can be done in your living room. In fact, they can be done virtually anywhere in your house if you have the right living space!

Related: 7 resistance band exercises for runners

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Tips on completing strength exercises

When doing any form of strength exercise, it’s important you focus on your form to avoid stress and injury.

This is especially important for any strength exercise that involves the use of free weights.

If in doubt, speak to a personal trainer at your local gym or visit a health and fitness coach and they will be able to show you how to perform the exercise safely.

When starting out with strength exercises, the tendency is to start with free weights when in fact it’s simpler to start with bodyweight exercises (i.e. exercises that use your own body weight) then progress from there.

Related: 9 best bodyweight exercises for runners

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7 exercises to do everyday

Now you know about all the benefits of strength exercises for runners, here are 7 exercises to do everyday.

These exercises can be completed at the gym or from the comfort of your own home.

All of these exercises do not require equipment, so they’re perfect if you don’t have equipment at home to work with.

You will simply be using your own bodyweight as a form of resistance.

Complete each of the following exercises for 1 minute. Once you have finished the whole set of exercises, repeat two more times.

Remember to take a 2 to 3 minute rest in between each set.

  1. Squat
  2. Forward lunge
  3. Burpee
  4. Inchworm
  5. Plank
  6. Hip bridge
  7. Bird dog

3 bonus strength workouts

#1 The kitchen sink workout

In this workout, you’ll be using a lot of things that you commonly find in your kitchen.

Once you’ve mastered some basic bodyweight exercises like the ones in the workout above, then you can start to look at incorporating some weights.

If you don’t have access to gym equipment, then it’s time to get creative!

Household items like cans of beans, cartons of milk, bags of flour and bottled water can all be used as weights.

Progression in the form of added weight, difficulty or resistance is necessary to avoid your body getting used to a particular workout (i.e. hitting a plateau in your training).

Complete each of the following exercises for the recommended reps. Once you have finished the whole set of exercises, repeat two more times.

Remember to take a 2 to 3 minute rest in between each set.

In brackets next to each exercise, I have indicated what you can use as the weight.

  1. 12 x goblet squat (bag of flour)
  2. 12 x overhead press (can of beans)
  3. 12 x reverse lunge (can of beans, either side)
  4. 12 x push ups
  5. 12 x upward row (can of beans)
  6. 12 x Russian twists (bag of flour)

#2 The HIIT workout

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. There are many HIIT workouts for runners out there which are fun, versatile and challenging!

It can take as little as 15 minutes to complete a HIIT workout so it’s great if you lead a busy lifestyle.

With HIIT, the key is to use the work to rest ratio safely so you don’t tire yourself out too quickly.

Do the following exercises using a 2:1 work to rest ratio. So complete each exercise for 60 seconds then take a 30 second break before starting the next exercise.

Between each round of exercises, take a 2 to 3 minute rest for recovery before starting the next round.

Round One (60 seconds work, 30 second rest)

  • Mountain climber
  • Squat
  • Forward lunge
  • Bicycle crunch
  • Sit up

Round Two (60 seconds work, 30 second rest)

  • Jump squat
  • Jump lunge
  • Glute bridge
  • Plank
  • Russian twist

Round Three (60 seconds work, 30 second rest)

  • Inchworm
  • Squat thrust
  • Jumping jack
  • Single leg plank
  • Burpee

#3 The core workout

Your core is extremely important while running.

A good core means you are able to hold a strong and stable position for longer, thus allowing you to hold proper running form and posture.

The good news is that there are lots of core exercises for that you can do in your living room to help you become a stronger and faster runner.

Complete 10 to 12 reps of each of the following exercises and repeat for 2 or 3 sets. Remember to take 1 minute break in between each set.

  1. Side plank dip
  2. Superman pull
  3. Bicycle crunch
  4. Side plank with arm reach
  5. Single leg plank
  6. V-up
  7. Glute bridge
  8. Inchworm
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