Exercises For Runners
Runners who include resistance training in their running programs will cross the finish line first. Strong hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings reduce the risk of injury from muscular imbalances you may not even know you have. You don’t even have to go to the gym to perform these strengthening exercises.
Add these leg and glute strengthening exercises to your routine 2 to 3 times a week on non-running days. Use weights that enable you to perform 2 to 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions in good form (unless otherwise recommended). Or use your own body weight to start.
5 or so minutes of light jogging or easy running.
Ball squat (glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps):
Position a fitness ball behind you and against a wall at waist height, feet shoulder-width apart and hands on hips or fingertips behind your head (or holding onto dumbbells if adding resistance), elbows out to the sides. Keep eyes focused straight ahead and chest high as you slowly bend at the knees and hips, lowering hips towards the ground. Keep heels on the ground and do not allow back to come away from the ball. When thighs are parallel to the floor (legs should form a right angle), pause and then slowly rise back up to starting position by pushing through your heels. Repeat.
Single-Leg Squat (gluteus medius and quadriceps) :
Begin in the same starting position as the ball squat. Shift your weight to your right leg and raise your left leg off the floor several inches. Slowly lower yourself towards the floor as far as you can and keep your balance (do not allow knee to move forward of your ankle); pause and return to starting position. Start with 6 reps and add more as you become stronger.
Alternating lunges (glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves):
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells for added resistance, if desired. Keeping chest high and abdominals engaged, step forward with your left foot, landing on your mid-foot and flexing the knee to a 45-degree angle and bending the right leg until knee almost contacts the floor. Return to starting position by pushing back with your left foot. Alternate legs and repeat for 15 reps.
Hamstring curls (hamstrings):
Lie on your back with your feet up on a fitness ball, toes pointed up. Raise hips until shoulders, hips and knees align (do not arch your back). Slowly bend your knees as you roll the ball towards your hips—do not allow hips to drop; pause and return ball to starting position; repeat without resting hips on the ground between reps.
Single-leg hamstring curl:
Start in the same position as for the hamstring curl, but cross one ankle over the opposite knee before rolling the ball.
Hip flexor strengthener (hip flexors):
Loop tubing around your right ankle and attach the other end to a door hinge or around a sturdy object. Face away from the door and stand on your left leg as you raise your right knee up towards your chest in a marching position (lighten the resistance if you cannot keep your balance, or substitute ankle weight for the tubing). Slowly return to starting position and repeat for the desired reps and then switch legs.