Kinected • Strength
Andrea running on a track

Strength Training for Runners

Andrea BrennanApril 6, 2024

Most people consider running a great way to get in shape. A key element often overlooked, however, is that running requires a certain level of strength. When your foot strikes the ground, forces more than 4 times your body weight are applied to your feet, ankles and knees. These forces can amplify any imbalances, weaknesses or inefficiencies that may be present.

Unless you are running at an elite level, strength training is often under-utilized by the running community. One of the major concerns is that resistance training can add muscle and slow you down. However, unless you are consuming a vast surplus of calories and spending hours at the gym, it’s unlikely that this will be the case. In fact, a lot of the gains made by strength training occur at a neuromuscular level which is essential for force production and building strength without gaining mass. Implementing strength training can help build resilience to injury, improve your power, running economy and stride efficiency.

“To be a good runner, you have to be a strong runner” Jason Fitzgerald, Running Coach

Common Injuries in running include:

  • ITB Syndrome
  • Achilles Tendinopathy
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Runners Knee
  • Shin Splints

Running, at its simplest form, is jumping from one foot to the other, over and over again.

When you run your foot hits the ground and the harder you hit the ground, the further you stride. Generating power from your glutes will create a more powerful footstrike with less ground contact time (dissipating less force and leading to better force transfer) and improve your running economy. The glutes are the biggest and strongest muscles in the body yet are often underdeveloped in runners.


How to Strength Train for running:

  • Have a plan
    • Best results come with a commitment of 2-3 days per week of strength training
    • Hire a coach to help guide you
    • Form is key! Start bodyweight if needed and build towards lifting moderate to heavy loads

  • Periodize your plan based on your running seasons
    • Off season: focus on your big lifts and power development. Address any imbalances, weakness. Implement power development. Use Progressive Overload to gradually challenge your system and build more strength.
    • In season: as your running intensity and volume increase, work on maintenance of your strength and focus on injury prevention

  • Choose compound exercises or functional movements that challenge multiple muscle groups and joints in various planes, requiring neuromuscular coordination.

  • Combine bilateral and unilateral leg exercises.

  • Train your core to stabilize your pelvis and low back. A weak core can allow for excessive movement in your trunk, pelvis and hips which will leak energy and be like running in sand.

  • Include Plyometric and Power training early in your sessions. This should be non-fatiguing, with plenty of rest to prioritize form and explosiveness.


Best exercises for Running:

Click Each Title for Video Link to Youtube

1. Trap Bar Deadlift

Jess starting a deadlift
Jess at the top of a deadlift

2. Pogos

Jess starting a pogo hop
Jess in the air for a pogo hop

3. Deadbug

Jess doing a deadbug
Jess doing a deadbug

4. Side Plank Hip Circles

Jess doing a side plank with hip circles

5. Split Squat Calf Raises

Jess doing split squat calf raises

6. Hamstring Hold on Roller

Jess doing hamstring hold on roller

References/Links:

Runners World

Strength Running Blog; Power, Speed Development, And “Output”
Peter Attia: Running, overcoming challenges, and finding success

Does Running Affect Your Knees?