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4 best strength training exercises for runners? (Read 260 times)

    http://running.competitor.com/2014/01/training/the-four-best-strength-training-exercises-for-runners_40725

     

    1. Bodyweight squats

    2. Single-leg deadlifts

    3. Core work (not exactly a single exercise, but whatever)

    4. Single-leg squats

     

    I'd like to build some leg strength in order to be able to do running workouts like hills and intervals.  I keep thinking simple (like low intensity, low reps) hills and intervals are how I will strengthen my leg muscles in order to get to the point where I can attack a normal hill or interval workout but I can't seem to avoid some minor hamstring twinge here or mild quad strain there. Ran across this article and thought it sounded basic enough. Maybe do some of these routinely to get a bit more power into these old legs? Or maybe I'm just being impatient and need to keep paying my dues just putting in the miles first? I was a sprinter in high school track and I guess I would love to just run really hard or fast again without worrying about hurting myself. Any thoughts are appreciated.

      Seems like a good idea to me.  I was a hurdler in the olden days.

       

      The list you have seems great.  The only concern I have is the knee.  You'd want to be careful if they put too much force on your knees.  Might only be a problem if you are overweight, such as for doing those 1 leg squats.  Even so, still do something (perhaps stick with 2 leg squats, if one seems a strain) to strengthen, but but hopefully not injure.

       

      Right or wrong, my routine is:

      sit-ups

      push-ups

      squats

      jumping jacks

      trunk twists

      trunk bends (stand and bend over in all 4 directions, repeatedly)

      a variety of arm lifts with small weights

      a variety of leg lifts, (20 in each of the 4 basic directions, plus a knee lift, plus a sitting leg lift) with ankle weights.

      a leg lift that mimics the trailing leg going over a hurdle.

        I mean those exercises are fine but are you saying you lack the basic leg strength to run hills now? Even short hills at a moderate to easy pace? Start with a little and build gradually?

         

        The great thing about hills is you don't have to "run really hard" to get most of the benefit. Just run them. Over time you'll get stronger. If you do it consistently it will happen faster than you think.

        Runners run.

          No objection to the squats, the are one of the best exercises you can do. But be aware that you will need to add some extra training for your calfs.

           

          Single leg deadlifts are difficult to do, it will take you a lot of time to do them properly and this means that you will not reap any benefits for some time while you still can get injured.

           

          "Core work" , that's not "whatever", that's the most important that you can do, I would even forget leg strenght: It's not your legs what carries you through a race, it's your core.

           

          Single leg squats are as difficult as single leg deadlifts. Both exercises are good for balance but not too much for anything else.

           

          Here's my suggestion based on a few bodyweight exercises focusing on the core but also training the rest:

           

          • squats          (do a series of 10 as warmup) 
          • lunges         (any variety, the best exercise for a runner. Easy to learn and you can do as many as you want)
          • plank            (a classic, easy? Aim at a full minute
          • bridge          (see above and if it's too easy try elevating one leg)
          • push ups     (another classic, and you will want to have a toned upper body too in order to avoid back pain)

          Some variations: 

          • Side squat              Search it in Youtube, this exercise prevents ITBS I would do it at least once per week
          • Lateral leg raise    lie on the ground, lift one leg and hold for 40 seconds aiming at 1:00 or 1:00 also prevents ITBS
          • side plank               core, and obliques        
          • Obliques                 oblique abs

          and an excellent full body exercise with plyometrics:  The burpee: it's awesome, maybe the best exercise ever... but it makes a lot of noise, so that I don't recommend it if you have neighbours.

           

          If you want to do some weights do deadlifts and romanian (stiff legged) dead lifts and maybe Russian twists (core and obliques).

           

          One final note: Just because we are runners it does not mean that we have to cross train our legs more, rather the opposite; there is a limit to how much training each body part needs and we already pound our lower limbs quite  a lot. 

            I mean those exercises are fine but are you saying you lack the basic leg strength to run hills now? Even short hills at a moderate to easy pace? Start with a little and build gradually?

             

            The great thing about hills is you don't have to "run really hard" to get most of the benefit. Just run them. Over time you'll get stronger. If you do it consistently it will happen faster than you think.

             

             

            No, I didn't mean I don't have the strength to do it but what I've been doing seems easy enough but still the quad strain ... 4 x 3 minutes at 4° with 2 minute between, at a slow 10:30 pace (on the treadmill). LIke you said, start with a little and build gradually. I've done it a total of 3 or 4 times now (approx 7-9 days apart). I'm keeping it at what I think should be a nice entry level but after the first hill workout like this I have since (almost daily) had what feels to be a mild quad strain, not during the run but after every run. Only when I walk up stairs. But it is there. I have continued to do this same hill workout figuring it's not getting worse, it doesn't hurt while I run and how else am I going to build the muscle to get stronger if I don't keep at it. So, keep at it? I just need reassurance that this is the right thing to do. Sounds like yes.

               "Core work" , that's not "whatever", that's the most important that you can do, I would even forget leg strenght: It's not your legs what carries you through a race, it's your core.

               ____

               

               

              Here's my suggestion based on a few bodyweight exercises focusing on the core but also training the rest:

               

              • squats          (do a series of 10 as warmup) 
              • lunges         (any variety, the best exercise for a runner. Easy to learn and you can do as many as you want)
              • plank            (a classic, easy? Aim at a full minute
              • bridge          (see above and if it's too easy try elevating one leg)
              • push ups     (another classic, and you will want to have a toned upper body too in order to avoid back pain)

              ___

               

              and an excellent full body exercise with plyometrics:  The burpee: it's awesome, maybe the best exercise ever... but it makes a lot of noise, so that I don't recommend it if you have neighbours.

               

               

              Thanks Enric. I like the list of bodyweight exercises and will start incorporating these. It's taking some time for me to realize that I just don't have the basic strength I did as a 20 or 30- something and if I want it I have to work on it. I've heard of burpees but haven't tried them (thought it was some fad I guess). This is all quite the re-education process.

               

              Oh yeah, and I didn't mean "whatever" on the core work. That was more of a "whatever" that Competitor lists it as one of the "4 best strength exercises for runners" as if it were just one exercise.

                 

                 

                No, I didn't mean I don't have the strength to do it but what I've been doing seems easy enough but still the quad strain ... 4 x 3 minutes at 4° with 2 minute between, at a slow 10:30 pace (on the treadmill). LIke you said, start with a little and build gradually. I've done it a total of 3 or 4 times now (approx 7-9 days apart). I'm keeping it at what I think should be a nice entry level but after the first hill workout like this I have since (almost daily) had what feels to be a mild quad strain, not during the run but after every run. Only when I walk up stairs. But it is there. I have continued to do this same hill workout figuring it's not getting worse, it doesn't hurt while I run and how else am I going to build the muscle to get stronger if I don't keep at it. So, keep at it? I just need reassurance that this is the right thing to do. Sounds like yes.

                 

                With hills especially I think it's easy to do too much or do it too fast on the treadmill. Ideally, hill workouts should be done outside, on a real hill but I know a lot of people are limited by terrain and weather etc. and you gotta do what you gotta do.

                 

                One reason I think the treadmill is not the best place to do hill workouts is I think it's best to do hills un-timed for the most part, so I would try to really not worry about what pace you're running (as hard as that can be on the treadmill) and just focus on doing the work with good form. Think back straight (run tall), quick steps. Most of your power should come from your glutes. Don't over stride. Your foot should be landing basically under your center of mass and almost immediately transition toward push off.

                 

                I think 3 minutes is too long to start out. I would start with 1 minute hills with at least 2 minutes in between. You could do 10 or 12 x 1 minute and get the same volume of work you're doing now, over time increase the length of the hills.

                Runners run.

                   

                  With hills especially I think it's easy to do too much or do it too fast on the treadmill. Ideally, hill workouts should be done outside, on a real hill but I know a lot of people are limited by terrain and weather etc. and you gotta do what you gotta do.

                   

                  One reason I think the treadmill is not the best place to do hill workouts is I think it's best to do hills un-timed for the most part, so I would try to really not worry about what pace you're running (as hard as that can be on the treadmill) and just focus on doing the work with good form. Think back straight (run tall), quick steps. Most of your power should come from your glutes. Don't over stride. Your foot should be landing basically under your center of mass and almost immediately transition toward push off.

                   

                  I think 3 minutes is too long to start out. I would start with 1 minute hills with at least 2 minutes in between. You could do 10 or 12 x 1 minute and get the same volume of work you're doing now, over time increase the length of the hills.

                   

                  Fantastic. Thank you. I will take your advice. There are exactly two hills in Chicago and one happens to be close-ish to my house. Once this polar vortex clears I will try to do most hill workouts over there.

                     

                    Fantastic. Thank you. I will take your advice. There are exactly two hills in Chicago and one happens to be close-ish to my house. Once this polar vortex clears I will try to do most hill workouts over there.

                     

                    It's a bit of a drive for you, but there's more than just a few chicaco city dwellers that drive out to Barrington HS on the weekednds for their long/hilly runs.  You'll find more than just a couple hills :-)

                       

                      It's a bit of a drive for you, but there's more than just a few chicaco city dwellers that drive out to Barrington HS on the weekednds for their long/hilly runs.  You'll find more than just a couple hills :-)

                       

                      Yeah, time to start thinking outside the box, right? Smile   I don't know if I could get away with stealing more hours from the family on the weekends but I do work in Hinsdale. Got to be some hills I could do out here after work.

                        fortunately I  live in an area where there are plenty of hills or "inclines".  I can  go out my door & within 30 seconds find some.   One of my favorite wo's is to do what I call "hill fartleks".   after a short wu I will run up inclines of various grades/lengths.  shorter ones  will run hard,  longer will run mod-hard etc.. recovery of between 2-5 minutes.  I have done hill repeat wo's but I like more variation & can throw these into run at almost any time.  By doing it this way I can run 1-3 miles longer for that day as well.  If I run down the hill & through town to the local parka (trails) I have to come back up the hill to get home.  Some days I will run that last 3/4 mile hill back home slow'easy, some days will push it.

                         

                        Joann:  At the beginning of your post   you said you want to build some leg strength in order to be able to do hills/intervals. Nothing at all wrong with  doing strength training excercises. but wont  running  & especially running hills/intervals develop leg strength?    Be careful if you are trying to do both (more hills/intervals + leg strength training excercises).   Whatever you do, be consistent & very very slowly add more stress.  Not a bad idea for you to do low intensity stretches for your hamstrings/calfs/hips/pelvic etc  after your run when your muscles are still warmed up.

                          Joann:  At the beginning of your post   you said you want to build some leg strength in order to be able to do hills/intervals. Nothing at all wrong with  doing strength training excercises. but wont  running  & especially running hills/intervals develop leg strength?    

                           

                          This.  With that said, I also supplement my training by doing single leg squats, single leg deadlifts and bridges once a week.  I also do monster walks with a theraband 1-2 days a week to help prevent ITBS.  Other than that, core work 2 days a week and one day where I do strength training for chest, bis, tris, shoulders and back (light weight, more reps).

                             

                            This.  With that said, I also supplement my training by doing single leg squats, single leg deadlifts and bridges once a week.  I also do monster walks with a theraband 1-2 days a week to help prevent ITBS.  Other than that, core work 2 days a week and one day where I do strength training for chest, bis, tris, shoulders and back (light weight, more reps).

                             

                            I get what you guys are saying and I guess I didn't make myself totally clear. I'm doing hills to build strength but even with a gradual approach, my frustration was a mild quad strain (and before that a mild upper hamstring thing). My thinking was maybe I should come at it from another angle (like specific strength exercises) but mikeymike pointed out that I could still come at the hills with an even more gradual approach. I think this is a good idea. As things improve (ability to do shit without getting hurt), I will take some of your's and other's ideas and incorporate them for general conditioning and injury prevention. I do really like having a small list of specific exercises (like yours and Enric's list above) that I can focus on, so I appreciate that. And it's fun to do upper body stuff, just been a while. Warmed up to 2F in Chicago today, be swimsuit weather before you know it.

                               

                              I get what you guys are saying and I guess I didn't make myself totally clear. I'm doing hills to build strength but even with a gradual approach, my frustration was a mild quad strain (and before that a mild upper hamstring thing). My thinking was maybe I should come at it from another angle (like specific strength exercises) but mikeymike pointed out that I could still come at the hills with an even more gradual approach. I think this is a good idea. As things improve (ability to do shit without getting hurt), I will take some of your's and other's ideas and incorporate them for general conditioning and injury prevention. I do really like having a small list of specific exercises (like yours and Enric's list above) that I can focus on, so I appreciate that. And it's fun to do upper body stuff, just been a while. Warmed up to 2F in Chicago today, be swimsuit weather before you know it.

                               

                              If you're getting hurt running, you may need to check your form.  Proper form while running, whether uphill, downhil or on flat ground is a huge factor with injuries.