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Strength Training for Runners

Running is a fantastic cardiovascular exercise that offers numerous health benefits, but to truly maximize your performance and prevent injuries, incorporating strength training into your routine is crucial. Contrary to the misconception that strength training might bulk you up and slow you down, it can actually enhance your running efficiency and endurance. Let’s explore the benefits of strength training for runners and how you can integrate it into your regimen.

Benefits of Strength Training for Runners:

  • Injury Prevention:

  • Strengthening muscles and joints helps to stabilize the body and reduce the risk of common running injuries, such as shin splints, knee pain, and stress fractures.

  • Improved Running Economy:

  • Strength training enhances the neuromuscular coordination, enabling runners to utilize energy more efficiently. This, in turn, improves running economy and helps maintain a steady pace for longer durations.

  • Increased Power and Speed:

  • Strong muscles generate more power, which translates into improved running speed. Incorporating explosive movements in your strength training routine can enhance your sprinting ability and overall race performance.

  • Enhanced Core Stability:

  • A strong core is the foundation of good running form. It helps maintain proper posture, balance, and reduces the risk of lower back pain. Specific core exercises should be included in your strength training program.

  • Balanced Muscle Development:

  • Running predominantly engages certain muscle groups. Strength training ensures a more balanced development of muscles, reducing the risk of muscular imbalances that could lead to overuse injuries.

Designing a Strength Training Program for Runners:

  • Keep running and cardio conditioning as your main focus.

  • While it’s best to do cardio and strength in separate workouts, If you have to do them in the same workout, run first, then do a light strength workout after. This is especially relevant if you are training for a race.

  • Don’t overdo it.

  • It doesn’t take much to build and maintain basic strength levels. Aim for 2-3, 30-60 minute strength workouts a week, and keep the total number of sets per body part on the lower end (3-6 sets). You don’t want to be too sore or fatigued from your strength workouts that it interferes with your running workouts. However, you may be able to do significantly more volume if you are well trained.

  • Focus on movements that use a lot of muscles like squats, lunges, presses and rows.

  • These multi joint movements are efficient and effective for building full body strength. You can definitely add in accessory movements, especially for the upper body (think bicep curls and lateral raises for shoulders), if you have the time and energy. 

  • Incorporate some core work

  • Exercises such as Plank variations, Reverse Crunches, and Bird Dogs (to name just a few), help build stability that can improve running form and balance as well as helping to build a healthy lower back.


Incorporating strength training into your running routine is a game-changer that can propel you to new levels of performance and endurance. By targeting specific muscle groups, preventing injuries, and enhancing overall strength, runners can enjoy a more well-rounded and sustainable approach to their favorite activity. So, lace up those running shoes, hit the trails, and complement your cardio workouts with the strength training needed to go the extra mile – literally. Your body will thank you, and your runs will never be the same again.

If you’re looking to put together a strength training routine to complement your running program, our trainers are here to help! Reach out today to set up a consultation!

Need more motivation or help? Reach out to Coach Joel today at



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