Strength Training for Runners

Stregnth training guidelines for runners _

If you are a runner, you know you should be strength training.

Now be honest, do you actually strength train consistently?

I know how easy it is to forget about strength training.  Believe me, I get it.  We are runners, we want to run ALL the miles.  Just look at my workouts from last week.  I was running more so I dropped a day of strength training.

So running all the miles will make you a stronger and faster runner.  That’s a fact.  The more your run, the better you become at it.  But when you run all the miles, you need all the strength to keep your body running injury free.  You may have legs of steel from doing hill repeats or 800s on the track, but your WHOLE body needs strength training to combat the repetitive stress you do with each run.

From my years of working in the fitness industry, there are two things that stand out in the excuse column of why strength training doesn’t happen more often.

Intimidation.  It can be intimidating to go to a gym where there’s lots of machines and “toys” with big buff dudes and ladies flinging heavy stuff around.

Time. I’m already spending a ton of time running, how can I fit it one more thing?

You don’t need fancy gym equipment to strength train.  It most certainly makes it more interesting, but it’s not necessary. Do you know what the best strength training exercises for runners are: planks, deadlift, squats, lunges and push ups.

Notice what all these have in common?  No equipment needed!

You also don’t need hours to devote to strength training.  It should take you 20-30 minutes to bust out some strength.

Easy enough, right?

Strength Training Guidelines for Runners


  • 2-3 full body strength training sessions a week focusing on the major muscle groups of the lower and upper body
  • Use a heavy enough weight so form is not compromised
  • Form is key!  Don’t get sloppy to get through the exercises faster.  Slow and controlled.
  • Exercises that will enhance your running (see below)
  • Plyometrics like squat jumps, bounding and high knees are explosive bodyweight training which a runner needs.  These exercises help with your “spring” when you push off the ground with each foot fall while running.
  • Exercises that move in many planes.  Work to the front, side and the back!
  • Do strength training on your easy run days or cross training days


  • Say you don’t have time
  • Think advanced means better results.  It’s better to do a basic move with good form.
  • Use momentum when performing the exercise.  Think about what muscle you are working to lift the weight in a slow and controlled movement.

Looking for some strength training exercises for runners?  Check out these 7 workouts that are 20-30 minutes and hit all the muscles runners need to strengthen.

FYI – While I am an ACSM Clinical Exercise Physiologist and RRCA Running Coach, I am not your trainer or coach.  Please consult your physician, trainer or coach for specific guidelines.

Strength trainign guidelines for runners | Bosu Core Workout

Strength training guidelines for runners | The 100 Workout

Strength training guidelines for runners | Stay injury free or rehab an injury with these glute strengtghening exercises for runners

Strength training guidelines for runners | quick 20 minute BOSU strength workout

Strength training guidelines for runners | my-favorite-strength-and-running-workout-happyfitmama-com

Strength training guidelines for runners | A strong upper body is an asset that every runner should have. Try this quick upper body workout for runners to get faster and stronger.

Strength trainig guidelines for runners | You can workout twice in one day! Get a run in the morning and strength session in the evening.

Linking up with Coaches Cornerand Wild Workout Wednesday.

Do you strength train? 

What’s your go to for strength training?

16 comments on “Strength Training for Runners

  1. Strength training is so important for runners! I love having a plan to follow now, but even before that I tried to do about 2 workouts per week. Most of the time I do my workouts at home with minimum equipment. These look like great workouts!

  2. Great info! I know strength training has made me a stronger runner too. I made a switch this cycle where I only did my strength training on hard running days to keep other days really easy and I think for marathon training, that was a good change. For shorter distances, the mix of strength/run days works well.
    Laura recently posted..Richmond marathon recap + new pr!!My Profile

  3. I was not great about strength training this cycle (my excuse that’s not really an excuse was time), but my race is on Saturday and after a few days of recovery I’m looking forward to getting back to a bigger focus on strength!

  4. Thank you for this post!! I hold a Master’s degree in Exercise Science and worked in the personal training industry for ~5 years. Since “becoming” a runner, going to the gym is not enjoyable for me. I have been working with Laura over the past year and you both say the same/similar things “a little is better than nothing”. Too often I think too big and want to be “perfect”, therefore feeling like I NEED to be strength training 3-4 times/week. In reality, my current lifestyle does not easily allow for that so I try to focus on 15-20 minutes a couple times/week (with at least one day of 30-45 minutes). For me….your strength training posts are extremely inspirational and motivating. Thank you!

  5. I do strength training. When I was still running long distance it helped me improve my half marathon times. My 5K is definitely faster now that I am running shorter distances in part because of being stronger.

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