You’ve heard it before: As a runner, you know you should be strength training, but you can’t seem to find the time or the motivation to do so. Well, if you knew how good you would feel with a healthy, strong body and how much better you’d perform on the track or the roads, you’d probably think again.
Strength-training builds lean muscle mass and increases your ability to sustain and endure exercise when the going gets tough. This doesn’t mean you need to spend hours in the gym pumping weights though! Rather, you can target major muscle groups with bodyweight exercises such as the three listed below. Tack these 3 exercises, targeting major muscle groups, onto the end of your running workout 3 to 4 times per week for optimal results.
1. LOWER BODY: WALKING LUNGES
Start in a standing position, hands on hips and abdominals activated. Lunge forwards with your left leg so that your left knee is over your left ankle and thigh parallel to the floor.
Your right knee behind you should drop towards the ground, hovering, for 5 seconds, before pushing back up to bring your right leg forward to meet your left to a standing position. Repeat, this time lunging forwards with your right leg, dropping your left knee towards the ground in a split-squat lunge.
Repeat 10-times in one direction, turn around and repeat on the way back to the start position for 1 complete set. Aim to complete 2-3 sets in total.
2. UPPER BODY: PUSH UPS
There is never an excuse not to do a push-up! You can do it practically anywhere, including your bedroom, office, the gym, at the park, etc.
Push-ups not only strengthen your triceps and chest but they are also a core burner when done correctly. Lie down on the floor with hands under your shoulders and toes touching the ground.
Raise yourself up on your hands so that they are underneath your shoulders, keep your back straight from head to behind and draw your belly up and away from the waistband of your pants to activate your abs. Slowly lower towards the floor, hover and push yourself back up to start.
Repeat as many times as you can before fatigue. If too difficult, simply drop to your knees and perform the same actions. It is still a great workout.
3. CORE: ALTERNATING PLANKS
Planks are one of the most effective core exercises, targeting your abdominals, back, glutes, hip flexors, shoulders and chest. Perform an alternating sequence of planks to challenge your midsection and your mental fortitude to stay in the moment.
Perform a front plank by getting into a push-up position, drop to rest on your forearms so that your elbows are under your shoulders and palms flat on the ground. Maintain a straight back from head to toe, pulling your belly button up towards your spine. Hold for 45-60 seconds.
Switch to a side-plank in which you rest on your left side with your left elbow under your shoulder and forearms perpendicular to the ground. You should be resting on the sides of your feet, stacked on top of each other, as you lift your hips up towards the sky. Hold for 45-60 seconds.
Then, switch to front plank again before performing the side plank on your right side. Complete a total of 2-3 sets.