Move It Monday: 5 Exercises For Runners

Happy Move It Monday friends!!

Today I’m addressing something I get asked about all the time. What are good strength training exercises for runners?

Well today I am going to give you five. This is not intended to be a full workout, but rather exercises you should add to your already existing strength workout (cause you have one, right??). At least once a week!

These should all be good to do at home too in case you don’t have access to a gym. You may need a few props like dumbbells, a mat, a chair or a bench.

Boat Pose


This is an isometric ab exercise. Meaning there are no reps, just static contraction of the muscle.

Same exact purpose as the more popular plank exercise. But I like giving this one to beginners because the form isn’t as hard to nail. Most people I know do plank wrong because they don’t have the core strength to do it correctly yet.

The above example is actually the advanced version of boat pose. Start in sitting, roll back on to your sit bones, straighten your legs as high as you can get them. Keep your hands to the sides and off your legs. Don’t use them for support. Your spine is always straight and your shoulders are always down and away from your ears.


If the straight leg version is too difficult, then hold your knees at 90 degrees and try crossing your ankles. Remember this is an ab exercise, so contract those abs to steady yourself! The act of running is always asking you to contract your abs to keep you upright and steady. Having a strong core will make you a stronger runner.

Stiff Leg Deadlift


This one is mostly for your hamstrings. Your hamstrings don’t get any stretch while running, that’s why runner’s have such tight hamstrings all the time. Because of this, you’re not strengthening your hamstrings as much as your quads while you run. This muscular imbalance in your thighs can lead to a whole slew of problems including runner’s knee.

For this exercise, it’s important to keep your back straight and shoulders back. People have a tendency to let their shoulders drop towards the floor on the down motion. Don’t do that. You can see the fitness model keeps her scapula retracted the whole time.

Start with light weights, but increase as needed to make 15 reps feel difficult. Keep a slight bend to the knees and look at the floor on your way down. This also works this glutes and hip. Remember to contract those hamstrings to pull yourself up and to keep pressure off the lower back.

Single Leg Squat

Did you know the gluteus maximus is one of the strongest muscles in the body? Did you know that because we sit on our arses all day its weakness can lead to back and leg problems? For runners, particularly iliotibial band syndrome.

Single leg squats are great for your butt, but also your quads and hips. It’s the same exact form as a regular squat, but on one leg! Some people hold their raised foot out in front of them like pictured above. I personally balance better with it bent behind me. Remember to keep the chest moving up and down, not forward, and the butt goes behind the heel. You don’t don’t have to get your thigh parallel to the floor here, just come down as far as you can.

Calf Raises


I know so many people who experience plantar fasciitis pain, and I’m a true believer that it can be significantly decreased by strengthening and stretching the calves. It’s simple really. The calves are connected to the achilles tendon, which is connected to your fascia. Tightness or weakness in the calves can make that achilles tendon and fascia go haywire.

Even if you don’t experience this kind of pain yet, it’s mandatory to do these to keep it away! Don’t worry about getting giant calves. Use your bodyweight (not dumbbells as pictured). Place the toes of one foot on a step or raised surface. Make sure there is something nearby to grasp for balance. Let your heel hang over the edge of the step, then push up on to your tiptoes. Repeat!

Leg Raises


Running is notoriously brutal on your hips. Help strengthen them up with leg raises! Find a horizontal bar to hang from, bend your knees, and using your lower abs and hips, bring them into your chest.


If you have access to a gym, many have machines specific for this. It’s also easier than hanging from a bar.

If you’re not at a gym, just grab a chair! It won’t be as challenging, so just do more reps.

And those are my top 5 strength training exercises for runners. Get to working on these asap for your spring training. Bug me about it again in the summer and I’ll give you five more ;) Happy exercising!


Posted on April 18, 2011, in Move It Monday, Workouts. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Thanks Susan! This came at a perfect time for me as I’m getting back into running again after recovering from an injury. I don’t want the injury to rear its ugly head again so I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of strength training to do!

  2. Oh my goodness seriously thank you Susan. I have been so bad with exercising and cross training and core strengthening. I will be printing this and putting it on my wall.

  3. I had no idea leg raises were a hip exercise! Whenever I do them, I think I am only working my abs! Knowing it’s also working my hips is making me feel even better. Do you have other exercises in this category?

  4. Great post! I have a tendency toward tight hamstrings, so these moves are perfect for me.

  5. Thanks for these Susan, perfect timing. And I must say, I dont have any particular strength training in place for my running at the moment :( oops

  6. Good tips! I second how important it is to strengthen your hips. You can also do standing one-legged leg raises- I did those a ton before my stair climb race back in February and I swear they helped more than anything!

  7. We used to have to do the boat pose @ cheer practice…kicked my ass from here to china! I did a bunch of deadlifts this morning, my poor hammies are still sore, but not as tight as they were the last time I did them :)

  8. Thanks, this great! Especially as I notice many weaknesses as I’ve upped my mileage. Great post!

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