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The Best Strength Training Exercises For Runners, Trainer Says

Don't skip out on these exercises that focus on endurance and muscular strength.

If you're a runner, incorporating strength training exercises into your routine is major for strengthening your joints and muscles. This can lead to a decreased risk of getting injured and enhanced race times. So, don't let strength training fall by the wayside (Your performance will thank you!), and check out the best strength training exercises for runners that you shouldn't skip out on.

We spoke with Kami Blease, a personal trainer on Fyt, the nation's largest personal training service that makes fitness under the expert guidance of an in-person (or virtual), certified fitness professional convenient and accessible for anyone, about the exact strength training exercises you should do. Blease explains, "Whether you realize it or not, you're using your whole body when it comes to running. Therefore, I believe that compound strength training is the most complementary routine for runners, because you are focusing on muscular strength and endurance."

Read on to check out Blease's top strength training exercises for runners, and next, be sure to read The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.

Push-up with Side Plank

couple performing side planks on rooftop

Blease notes this exercise is a major one when it comes to building a strong core and upper body. To begin the movement, you'll line up your hands underneath your shoulders, a bit outside shoulder-width distance.

Then, Blease instructs, "Press your toes into the ground and activate your glutes and abs to neutralize your spine. (You can also do this on your knees or at an incline.) Bend at your elbows, pressing them back at about a 45-degree angle, continuing to keep your hips and abs engaged, so they don't drop or lift up. On the exhale, press through your hands, lifting yourself back up into a plank position. Shift your weight into one of your hands, and slowly rotate the feet, so they are pointing in the direction you are facing. Lift your arm overhead so that your whole body is facing one way, pause, and then slowly shift your feet and place your hand back under your shoulder." Switch sides in between push-ups.

Related: The Best Cardio Exercises To Get A Lean Body Fast—Without Equipment


romanian deadlift

This is one of Blease's favorite exercises. The deadlift hones in on your glutes, back, hamstrings, and core muscles, delivering solid results.

"Stand with your feet just slightly wider than hip-width apart, holding the weights down in front of you with your palms facing in," Blease instructs. "Hinge at your hips, keeping your back flat, and think about pressing your glutes back behind you while you shift the weights down the front of your legs. Brace your core, and lift the weights back up to standing by engaging your glutes and thrusting your hips forward to pull you back up to standing."

Lateral Lunge with a Row

man doing bent-over row

According to Blease, incorporating a row in this particular exercise switches up the dynamic and makes it a total-body compound movement. To perform it, you'll hold weights in each hand by your side, and then take a pretty wide step outwards to one side, "bringing the weights to bracket each side of the leg that has just stepped out," Blease says. "Land with your foot straight, bending into that knee and pushing your hips back. Let your chest lower slightly down towards the floor. Engage your core, keep a neutral spine, and pull both weights up so that your arms are flush with your sides and the same height as your back. Release your arms as you step that foot back in to meet the other."

Related: Runners Are Running Even Longer—And The Numbers Are Shocking

Kneeling Squat Jumps

kneeling squat jump

Get ready for your heart to race and your legs to feel the burn. You'll begin by kneeling on the floor with your knees situated directly underneath your hips. Optionally, you can hold a dumbbell or put a resistance band around your thighs to take this move to the next level.

Blease instructs, "Lift one of your legs, and slowly swing it around so your foot is now on the ground outside your hip at a 90-degree angle. Then, bring your other leg around so that it is in the same position on the other side, resulting in you now being in a squat position. From your squat, jump up, and then land back down with your feet in the same place. Swing one leg back around, so you are now half kneeling on the ground, and let the other leg follow so you end up back in the kneeling position you started in. Try to alternate the leg you step through/come down on so you are not continuously staying on the same side."

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa