Here’s the thing about running:
With training, you may start to get better, but if you’re pushing yourself hard enough, it’ll always be challenging. Fortunately, there are plenty of exercises you can do to maximize your aerobic capacity and efficiency—which can translate to better mile times (and better enjoyment) despite how effortful it is!
4 Exercises That Will Make You a Better Runner
Running with more efficiency means it’ll take you less energy to run a given distance at a given speed compared to your pre-jacked self—so be sure to add these strengthening exercises to your cross-training routine.
Building core strength matters for life, let alone running. Stabilizing exercises like the plank can correct postural imbalances and even strengthen the muscles you need to breathe.
To do a plank, brace yourself on your toes (or knees) and forearms (or hands), keeping your head, shoulders, and hips in a straight line. Actively squeezing your butt and legs can help.
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2) Push Ups
We’re on a mission to banish the stereotype of a runner with a weak upper body! Stronger arms help you pump more effectively and avoid serious muscle imbalances.
To do: start in a plank position (your middle fingers should be pointing to 12 o’clock). Lower your chest all the way to the ground by bending your elbows and keeping them tucked in at your sides (don’t let them wing out—otherwise, hello shoulder impingement syndrome). Maintaining a stable core position, push yourself back up until your elbows lock out at the top.
3) Box Jumps
Plyometric exercises build strength and power, both of which are helpful for runners.
To do a box jump, start about one arm’s distance away from the box. Bend your knees and hips, swing your arms behind you, then jump and land with two feet on top of the box. Swinging your arms forward as you jump can be helpful, as can thinking about rapidly extending your hips and squeezing your butt. Stand to full extension at the top of the box before jumping or stepping back down.
4) Weighted Hip Extensions
A lot of us (especially runners) are quad dominant, meaning that our nervous systems tend to “forget” about optimally activating our posterior chain (back, glutes, and hamstrings). For this reason, weighted hip extensions strengthen your large glute muscles and may help you avoid injury, too.
To do: lie on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat. Hold a dumbbell or weighted barbell at your waist (use a folded yoga mat or sweatshirt for comfort). Keeping your abs tight, press through your heels and lift your butt into the air. You can make this harder by putting your feet up on a stability ball or by starting in a more seated position with your shoulder blades against the edge of a bench.
Got any runners in your life? Share this article with them and let us know in the comments how your training is going!