Strength training for runners

While going for a long, pleasant joggle in the wintry woods north of the Big Apple yesterday, I was very mindful of how much of a better joggler I am because I strength train my legs. Hills for instance aren’t a big deal and I actually enjoy them, even the steep, rocky ones that make me drop balls.

For some strange reason, many runners do little to no strength training of their legs. A few I’ve known even seem to be hostile to the idea, seeing themselves as cardio purists who scoff at the idea of doing strength training exercise. This is unfortunate, since this may increase the risk of various injuries, besides making hills more difficult.

Strength training the legs is as simple as strapping some ankle weights around your ankles, and doing leg lifts while lying on the floor on your back. If you have access to a gym, there are so many other things you can do to strengthen your legs. And this only needs to be done 2 to 3 times a week.

This takes care of most of your lower body muscles, except for the hips. Runner’s World had a great article on hip-strengthening exercises a few years ago – All in the Hips

The resistance band exercises the Runner’s World article recommends are very helpful. I used to forget to exercise my hips, but I find I can go up rocky hills faster now due to regularly exercising my hip muscles. I even came close to spraining my ankle yesterday while joggling through a rocky wooded area. I think my strong hip muscles may have prevented it from getting worse.

This study suggests doing hip exercises can prevent injury – Hip muscle weakness and overuse injuries in recreational runners.’


Although no cause-and-effect relationship has been established, this is the first study to show an association between hip abductor, adductor, and flexor muscle group strength imbalance and lower extremity overuse injuries in runners. Because most running injuries are multifaceted in nature, areas secondary to the site of pain, such as hip muscle groups exhibiting strength imbalances, must also be considered to gain favorable outcomes for injured runners. The addition of strengthening exercises to specifically identified weak hip muscles may offer better treatment results in patients with running injuries.

7 responses to “Strength training for runners

  1. Very interesting stuff- and pretty easy to manage, too! Thank you for following my blog; I’ll be sure to visit yours often! -Katrina

  2. I wish I managed! I’ve never been at any particular sport but recently I started doing some squat at home through this really cute application I found on my iPad. It’s been 2 weeks now and my legs are in awful pain after each session. I wonder if it will ever go away! Jogging never worked for me, most certainly because I’m a smoker, although I don’t overdo it at all. Any suggestions for less painful squatting ?

  3. Welcome to my blog. Squats are a great way to build lower body strength and explosiveness, but I don’t do them because of a knee injury from many years ago. I am also not an expert on squats. The pain you are experiencing may be because you are doing it wrong or you are not used to it. Maybe this video on how to do squats will help – You can also try doing half squats, in which you squat down only half way down, though they are not as good as full squats. Just about any amount of exercise is better than no exercise.

    Doing lunges can also help build lower body strength, and push-ups are good for upper body strength.

  4. Your blog is both inspiring and informational. Please accept this Wonderful Team Member Readership Award. If you would like, display the award on your blog page, announce the award in a post linking back to the person who gave you the award and pass the award along to 14 other deserving bloggers.
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  5. I agree with you on the hip exercises. I was in physical therapy a few years ago and they really stressed the importance of those exercises for both runners and cyclists. I can tell a difference when I am consistent in doing them. Thanks for the reminder.

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