Strength Training, Trail Running: A Runner's Best Strategy

By: Emily Peay, Personal Trainer

Emily Peay WEB 2

Strength training is one of the most beneficial and underutilized routines a runner can incorporate to improve overall muscle strength, stamina, and endurance, as well as reduce the risk of injury. Additionally, strength training helps correct muscle imbalances, improve running biomechanics and support a proper posture. Whether your training is for a 5k, fun run, or your first marathon, strength training is essential.

One of the most beneficial ways you can grow as a runner, is by running a variety terrain outdoors. Great examples include trial running, road running, and hill climbs. My personal favorite is trail running through the woods. This mixture of surfaces, elevations, and paths helps improve overall muscle endurance and strength, enhances your reaction time, and teaches your body more about balance and the biomechanics of running.

Adding strength training and running outdoors will take your running to the next level.

Here are some examples of some strength training exercises that can be done on a regular basis to help make you a stronger runner overall.

Squats (weighted or no weight)

15-20 reps / 2-3 sets

How to: Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in both hands at chest level and stand with your feet hip-width to shoulder-width apart. Stand tall and brace your core, drop your butt back and down as if you are going to sit in a chair. Make sure you are sitting back into your heels without shifting your weight forward onto the balls of your feet.

Benefits: Strengthens major muscle groups used while running, improves flexibility for faster and more efficient stride.

Weighted walking lunges

12-15 reps on each side / 2-3 sets

How to: Stand tall in front of a long clear walk way. Your feet should be hip width apart, chest up, core and glutes engaged. Take a big step forward with your left foot, lowering until both your knees are bent at 90 degrees and your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Add dumbbells in each hand as you see fit.

Benefits: These efforts improve single one leg balance, helps with coordination, posture and helps to increase your stride when running.

Superman/back extension

10-12 reps / 2-3 sets

How to: Lie face down on the floor with your arms extended in front of you and your legs extended behind you. In one movement engage your glutes and lower back to raise your arms, legs and chest off the floor.

Benefits: These exercises strengthen the middle and upper back for more stable, upright running posture.

Glute Bridge

15-20 reps / 2-3 sets

How to: Lie face up on the floor, knees should be bent and feet flat on the ground, arms at your side and palms down on the floor. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line, squeeze your glutes and keep your abs drawn in.

Benefits: Targets the glutes for improved activation. This helps you keep your pelvis level, as well as your legs and torso aligned when you run, boosting your stability.

Stationary bike or cycling outdoors

45min -1 hour / 2-3 times a week

Benefits: The muscles used for biking complement those used for running. For example, time on the bike builds endurance muscles in the quadriceps.  Not only will you become a stronger runner through biking, you will also become a faster runner.

Visit our Personal Training page to learn more about training and sign up for a personalized session with one of our certified trainers.