Five Key Strength Exercises for Runners

5 strength exercises for runners

Some runners forget how important strength training is. Supplementing running with strengthening exercises will not only aid in injury prevention but will make you a stronger, faster, and more efficient runner. Even for light runners like me, making sure my entire body is strong helps me go a bit farther and recover more quickly. Here are 5 great strength exercises for runners. It is ideal to include strength training sessions 2-3 time each week.

Bodyweight Squats
Squats hit a lot of running-specific muscles, and don’t require any equipment. They are an essential lower body strengthening exercise.

Here is an example from the folks at Howcast.


Planks are an essential exercise to strengthen the entire core. The major muscles of the core reside in the abs and the mid and lower back. Peripherally, the core also includes the hips, shoulders and the neck. The plank works to strengthen all of these areas.

Here is a great example from one of my favorite trainers, Bob Harper

Single Leg Deadlifts
Most runners only train their Quadriceps.This exercise works your hamstrings one at a time.
Strong and balanced leg muscles can increase performance and decrease chance of injury.

I like this example from Expert Village. This example uses a hand weight, but if you are new to a single leg deadlift, you can try it without weights as well.

When running, upper body strength is just as important as leg strength. If you are new to pushups, do them on your knees or elevated on a chair. If you are strong enough, do a traditional pushup on your toes.

This great video from Pop Sugar provides an excellent pushup tutorial.

 Single Leg Bridge

The single leg bridge will work your glutes and core big time! If a single leg bridge is too advanced for you, stick with a traditional bridge with both feet on the ground. 

Here’s a good tutorial from the folks at

What are some of your favorite strength training exercises? Share them in a comment.

Comeback Momma Siggy


Jenn Mitchell is a proud mom, wife and adventure seeker. She’s traveled either solo or with family to 20 countries and 36 U.S. states so far. A former personal trainer, Jenn looks for ways to keep her family fit and active both at home and on the road. Her goal is to inspire other moms and families to live happy and healthy lives.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. I’m going to be honest. I don’t run. I ran track (the longest I would ever sprint was the 200 meter dash) but I quit (I know, I’m a quitter) because I couldn’t stand warming up every day – 3 miles!! I do however, love planks!

  2. Amber Edwards

    Oh my goodness, I hate planks! lol. But they work so awesome! I have to do them all the time.

  3. Katy Rose

    I totally agree with you – so many runners overlook core and strength training and it is SO crucial. The first time I ran a marathon I knew I didn’t have the time to track all the miles I was supposed to but I made sure I worked a lot on my core and I am convinced that is what got me through the race. These exercises are great. – Katy

  4. Chelsea Day

    Great advice. I need to get back into running. It has been too long.

  5. Elizabeth Towns

    I feel some kind of way about this post. I just started walking 3 miles, and am working up to 5 in two weeks because I want to work up to running 5 miles. My whole lower body hurt after I watched/read this post. *sigh* The price I will pay for the goal I have set. I want to say that I am so glad I stumbled upon your post today. I WANT to say it…..

  6. Kristyn

    i have been doing a leg lift and squat 30 day challenge and can totally see a difference!

  7. Cristine

    I hate planks – I know that they are good for me, but I still hate them!

  8. Jenna Wood

    A gym trainer showed me the single leg deadlifts once, and boy did I feel the burn the next day. But, after weeks of conditioning, I was glad for the extra toning in a place I’d otherwise overlook.

    1. Jenn

      I agree that they are great exercises for anyone, not just runners.

  9. Melissa Vera

    Thanks for sharing this awesome workout with us. I am going to have to try some of those out.

  10. Tamara

    Great exercises!
    I always have my runner clients do lots of rowing variation as well. Many runner lean forward from the hip and let their shoulders collapse forward. Adding ‘rope face pulls’, bent-over reverse flys and seated rows to their program always helps with posture and a more ergonomic, upright stance.

    1. Jenn

      Great extra tips. I had rowing exercises on my list, but decided these were my top 5.

  11. Dede

    I really need to start a running plan. My doctor suggested that I combine it with strength training. I’m pinning this post so I can remember your tips!

    1. Jenn

      Glad to help inspire you.

  12. Lena

    I am not a runner, but If I could only do these few times a week – that would be super cool

    1. Jenn

      I find videos to be much more helpful than static photos as well.

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