Back in the day runners used to run, body builders used to lift, and swimmers spent all their time in the pool but now most athletes, including race car drivers, golfers and runners, see the value of strength training to help strengthen up the specific muscles, ligaments, and joints that are necessary to help them take their performance the extra mile.
For runners, the key muscles that you should work on are developing strong glutes and hamstrings, but you also want to work on your core, posture, and posterior chain as people do tend to hunch over and lose their form as they get tired. Here are a few of the best exercises for runners, including unilateral movements that focus on one leg at a time, simulating the strength demands of running.
- Step out to your right side, keeping both feet pointing ahead of you
- Lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the ground, keeping your left leg straight
- Step back to the centre and repeat on the other side
- Focus on keeping your stomach sucked in the entire time. As you have to balance to bring your leg back to standing position, it means that you abs have to do a lot of the work, and in turn they also get a workout!
Dumbbell Single Leg Dead Lifts
- Stand straight with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your stomach sucked in tight and your shoulders back
- Plant your left leg into the ground, this leg is going to be your support on this side
- Now send your right leg straight back behind you, while at the same time bring the front of you body forward until it is almost parallel to the ground. Without breaking the hips, slowly start leaning forward, allowing the weight to carry you down, while pushing the right leg back towards the wall behind you
- Now slowly bring yourself back up to standing. You should be feeling this in your core, your left hamstring and your right glute
- Begin in a standing position with a bar, broomstick, or band in your hands in front of you
- Keep your back is straight for the entire exercises, suck in your stomach to engage your core, and stand with your feet hip distance apart
- Bend forward at the hips, slowly pushing your butt back towards the wall behind you. Your knees should only partially bend which should generate tension in your hamstrings
- When your hips cannot go any further backwards, pause, and then slowly return to standing by extending the hips
Single Leg Box Squat
- Set up your box or bench so that it is around knee height
- Stand with your feet hip width apart, suck in your stomach to engage your core and keep your shoulders back
- Lift your right leg off the ground, keeping the above posture as you balance on the one leg
- Slowly start bending your left knee, pushing your butt back as if you are about to sit in a chair
- Get as low as you can, then slowly engage the muscles and start standing up straight again
- Hold a towel, band or broomstick above your head
- Stand straight with your feet at shoulder width apart and slightly angled at around 45 degrees
- Slow squat down, keeping your chest and arms up and your core engaged
- When you get to your lowest point, engage your core and push yourself back up to standing keeping the band or bar above your head the entire time.
Ben Lucas is a former NRL player, and the owner and co- founder of Flow Athletic, a yoga and fitness studio based in Paddington, Australia.