Strength Training for Runners: 8 Easy Moves for Beginners

Strength Training for Runners: 8 Easy Moves for Beginners


Strength training for runners is the key to running excellence.

Seriously, I’ll tell you why.

Building a strong base with strength training will take you the extra mile (literally and figuratively).

You can prevent injuries, improve running form AND run faster – all by adding some simple strength training exercises into your daily routine.

Are you busy? These moves are easy for busy people. Do them on the go, while traveling or during bad weather.

PLUS they’re also free and require absolutely no equipment!

Ready to add these 8 helpful strength training moves into your routine and crush some running PR’s? Let’s do it!

Prefer to learn via video instead?

We highlight the top 5 moves in this short video!



A Note on Reps & Sets: A “rep” means one single time doing a move. A “set” means doing that move a certain number of times in a row. So if you do one sit-up, that’s one rep, and if you do 15 sit-ups in a row, that’s 1 set.


1.) Plank

Planks come in many shapes and sizes but the basic plank is the full plank.

How to plank: Engage your core, leg and arm muscles and keep your arms straight and stacked under your shoulders. Keep your back straight (and don’t stick your butt up in the air!). 

How Many Reps to Do: Try holding this for 20-30 seconds to start (it’s harder than it looks!) and repeat 3 times with a 1 minute break in between. Increase time as you get stronger, but 10 second increments.

Full Plank - Strength Training for Runners
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Want different plank variations? Try this 5 Minute Plank workout if you want to get fancy.


2.) Squats

Like planks, squats come in many flavors. Start simple with the basic squat.

How to Squat: Start in a standing position and stick your butt out and down, using your thigh muscles and glutes while tightening your abs. You can put your hands in front or above you. Make sure the knees don’t go over the toes.

How Many Reps to Do: Do 15 to start (to make 1 set), and do 2-3 sets (with rest in between sets).

Basic Squat
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3.) Sit-Ups

Sit-ups are a necessary evil in strength training for runners. They just work so well, it’s hard to ignore them!

How to do Sit-Ups: Lay on your back with you feet about hip length apart and knees bent. Cross your arms across your chest and engage your core to lift your body up so your elbows touch your knees. Use controlled, intentional motions and do not put your hands behind your head to pull (or it could cause neck pain).

How Many Reps to Do: To start, do 15 sit-ups, then rest, then do 2 more sets of 15 each.

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Note: Crunches are similar to sit-ups, but not exactly the same. To do a crunch, engage your abs to lift just your head and shoulders off the ground (with your lower back staying in place), then gently release back to the ground.


4.) Clamshells

Clamshells strengthen the “butt” and hip, and pelvis muscles. Runners love this move (I know from personal experience…it helped fix a nagging knee issue I was having!).

How to Do Clamshells: Lay down on your side with your hand holding up your head. Stack your hips so the top hip is directly on top of the bottom hip. As shown in the picture, bend your knees at a 90 degree angle with your feet in line with your straight back.

Next, your hip muscle of the top leg and lift your knee into the air (like the second picture) while keeping both feet together.

Admittedly, this move feels a little weird at first but it works wonders on hip strengthening, which is important for runners.

How Many Reps to Do: Start with 15 reps on each side (to make 1 set) and shoot for 3 sets. Don’t skimp on clamshells, stick with it!

Clamshells Exercise
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5.) Lunges

Lunges are a wonderful exercise for runners because they work so many leg and glute muscles required for proper running form and injury-prevention.

How to Do Lunges: Start by standing straight with and engaged core. Then, step your right foot forward (about 2 feet) until your knee is at a 90 degree angle and your foot is stacked directly underneath your knee (see picture below). Allow your left knee to bend as well, so both knees are at 90 degree angles.

Be careful not to let your right knee go over your foot. Focus on maintaining the correct form so the right muscles are being used (and so you don’t injure anything).

How Many Reps to Do: Do 8 reps per leg (to make 1 set) and shoot for 2-3 sets with rest in between.

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6.) Donkey Kicks

Work your glutes real good with donkey kicks.

How to Do Donkey Kicks: Kneel down on all fours with a straight back and your head gazing slightly forward (but not all the way up or all the way down).

Slowly, in a control motion, squeeze your glutes and lift upward. Maintain a 90 degree angle (like in the second image pose) until your foot is facing straight up and your thigh is parallel to your back. Now bring your leg back down to the ground. Repeat for the other leg. And now you’re done with one rep!

How Many Reps to Do: Repeat this 10 times (to make one set). Try doing 2-3 sets to start.

Donkey Kick Exercise
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7.) Bridge

Strengthen your glutes and lower back to improve running form with the bridge exercise.

How to Do Bridge: Lay down on your back with your feet on the ground in front of you and knees up. Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings/quads and lift your pelvis up to create a straight line through your back into your thighs (see picture). Focus on holding good form and avoid arching your back. Keep your knees hip width apart (do not let them splay out further).

How Many Reps to Do: Start by holding this pose for 20 seconds. Release. Then repeat 10-15 times to make 1 set, and do 2-3 sets.

Bridge Exercise
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8.) Wall Sit

Wall sits are like the holy grail of strength training for runners because they strengthen the glutes, hamstrings, calves, hips and lower abs. So many muscles, all in one move!

How to do a Wall Sit: stand against a wall with a straight back. Slowly bend down while moving your feet away from you so your knees form a 90 degree angle and your thighs are parallel to the ground, with your feet located directly under your knees.. Engage quads, glutes and abs. Hold for as long as you can (try starting with 20-30 seconds and build from there).

How Many to Do: Repeat that 20-30 second hold, followed by a rest, 3 times.

Wall Sit Exercise
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Want a Tougher Workout? Add Resistance Bands

All of the strength training for runners exercises above are free because they don’t require equipment.

However, if you’re looking to increase the intensity and get a tougher workout, try resistance bands.

Resistance bands are cheap (I recently bought this set of 5 for under $10 on Amazon) and come in a variety of sizes and resistance strengths (from very light resistance to very heavy resistance, often with many levels in between).

Adding additional resistance to any of the strength training moves above is a good idea if you’ve already started a strength training regimen and want to step it up to the next level.

Strength Training for Runners- Resistance Bands


Is Strength Training for Runners the Same as Cross Training?

Sort of.

Strength training exercises can be a form of cross training, but cross training itself encompasses much more than just strength training.

Learn all about Cross Training for Runners if you want to integrate workouts like yoga, pilates or cycling into your routine in addition to strength training.


How Often Should I Do Strength Training?

This completely depends on your goals, and your body.

Some people do 2 or 3 strength training moves after a run. Rotate moves for optimal effectiveness.

Some people do strength workouts for 30-60 minutes (like on off-days when you’re not running) 2-3 days a week.

It’s really completely up to you.


What are your favorite strength training moves?

What has helped you become a better runner? Tell me in the comments! 


Remember – I always recommend consulting with your doctor or an exercise professional before starting and new fitness routine if you have any questions about the right exercises for your body!

8 Strength Moves for Runners - improve your running super quickly with these easy exercises. Get faster and stronger, and prevent injuries too. #running #runningtips

Strength Training Moves for Beginners- are you a runner? Do you exercise or want to start exercising? Then start with these 8 easy strength moves! #exercising #exercise #crosstraining #workout #workoutsStrength Training for Runners Strength Training for Runners Strength Training for Runners Strength Training for Runners

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