You may not call yourself a runner, but the minute you tie those laces to jog before breakfast or sprint through an alley in a CrossFit class, you have become the real deal. A runner in every sense of the word.
To make sure your runs are fast and pain-free, strength training is a critical component. Here are the six most essential strength exercises to ensure those runs are as powerful – and as painless – as possible.
Deadlift Heavy Things
A strong posterior chain is the key to becoming a powerful runner, and nothing gets your backside stronger than a deadlift. This compound movement hits all the key muscle groups runners need – hamstrings, back, glutes, hips, and arms. Deadlift using controlled tempo and progressive overload at least once a week, sticking with a a rep range of 5-12 per set depending on how heavy the lift is.
Get Down with Cossack Squats
The cossack squat gives you unilateral leg strength in the frontal plane (side to side). This exercise makes the cut for two reasons: First, it improves strength outside of the sagittal plane, where most runners and lifters are already dominant in.
Second, the exercise targets the hip adductors, quads, and glutes – major muscle groups needed for a powerful stride and injury-prevention. I like to take my runners outside of the sagittal plane as much as possible to ensure they’re working underdeveloped muscles that help with knee and hip stability.
In the Hip Thrust We Trust
The stronger your glutes are, the more force you can produce to sprint, jump, and push off the ground. I love hip thrusts for this very reason, and because it will engage the glutes far better than a squat will. You also get the added benefit of not having a pancake butt, either. Everyone wins with the hip thrust.
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Maximize your Single Leg Glute Bridge
The single leg glute bridge is an added bonus to the hip thrust in that one, you can load it multiple ways, and two, improve muscular balance and unilateral strength. Given that the glutes can handle a lot more volume and frequency than other muscle groups, there’s no issue with performing a heavy hip thrust one day and a single leg glute bridge (with or without weight), the next.
Nail the Deadbug
As far as core exercises go, the deadbug is by far one of the most effective. Unlike a traditional plank, it’s harder to cheat the deadbug and you can create 100 variations of it. The goal is to great core stability 360-degrees while one or two limbs move. And guess what? That’s exactly what you do while running!
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Become BFF with Heavy Split Squats
Runners need strong legs. Period.
Enter every variation of the split squat known to man – lunges, bulgarians, deficit split squats. This comes back to building unilateral strength to prevent injury and improve running performance. It’s not the most enjoyable exercise in my book, but it’s essential for every body.
These six exercises are foundational movements seen inside BarbellSTRONG Coaching, and is essential for all runners at every stage.
Now, lace up and get out there!