When it comes to strength training, you just can’t ignore it.
In fact, as I always say, strength training is part and parcel of any running program—regardless of your current fitness level and training goals.
In other words, if you run, then you have to strength train as well, period.
No way around it.
Here are the two most important reason:
- Boost power and strength in key running muscles such as the glutes, quads, and calves. This, apparently, translates to better running economy and performance.
- To correct muscle imbalance. This translates to fewer injuries and less discomfort while running.
I can go on and on about the importance of strength training for runners, but that’s not my primary goal today.
For more on the benefits of strength training for runners, check these posts.
My objective, as you can tell from the title of the post, is to share with you a set of resistance band exercises you can do in the comfort of your home to help you increase total body strength.
So, why resistance band exercises in the first place?
Well, keep on reading for the answers.
Enter Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are usually made of strong, thin, and long rubber with handles at each end, and come in a wide variety of resistance levels, depending on your fitness skill and training goals.
You can buy these in line with your fitness level and training goals—in other words, they are easily customized.
In my experience, resistance band exercises are one of the best tools you can use to keep strength training when you no longer have access to a gym or just dot want to go there for all personal reasons.
Also, stacking dumbells in your living room might be an attractive option.
Offer a lot of exercises
You can do a myriad of different of bodyweight exercises with a resistance band. In fact, you can virtually do almost any type for of resistance exercise.
Some of the best exercises include (but are not limited to), squats, push-ups, chest press, rows, triceps extensions, overhead presses, bicep curls and so on and so forth.
And yes, you can perform all of these exercises with no access to dumbbell or a weight bar.
Many Muscle Groups
Resistance bands can target the major muscle you use while running, mainly your core, glutes and legs while also isolating a particular muscle group.
It’s up to you what sort of exercises you choose to do.
Resistance bands can also enhance function in all types of connective tissues, especially tendons, and fascia.
Resistance bands are affordable.
They are, in fact, the most inexpensive way to do strength training, right after bodyweight training. Prices may range from only $5 to $25.
Also, since resistance bands are so small portable, they are convenient, making them a great option that you can easily roll up and take with you when you travel.
How to start
As a beginner, I highly recommend that you start with a thinner band—typically green or yellow.
Of course, you can always increase the resistance once you get stronger.
You can also make the exercises more challenging by making the bands shorter or doubling them up.
As you get stronger, up the ante by performing the exercises with a band with more resistance, such as blue or green.
1. Side Steps
This is an awesome exercise for stabilizing and strengthening the hip abductors. According to research, many running overuse injuries, such as Runners Knee and ITBs, are linked to weakness in the hip muscles.
Start by looping the resistance band either above your knees, below them, or for more resistance, around your ankles. Then assume an athletic position with the feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
Next, step out to the right side, planting your right heel and pulling your left foot over so you are hip width again. Make sure to keep tension on the resistance band while stepping.
And please do not let your feet come in contact.
Repeat the sidestepping movement for at least 12 to 16 steps in one direction, then reverse back to the starting point.
As you get stronger, add more distance and resistance to the exercise.
2. Monster Steps
Another wonderful exercise for targeting the hip muscles as well as the entire lower body, especially the glutes
Loop a band around both ankles and another around your knees. Make sure that there is enough resistance that the band is tight when your feet are hip-width apart. If it’s not the case, then adjust it so that it’s not too easy.
Next, while slightly bending the knees and engaging the glutes, sink into a semi-squat, then step forward and out to the side at a 45-degree angle.
Next, step forward with your left foot and keep walking for 16 to 20 feet.
Do this by taking “monster,” big steps, making sure that the feet are as wide apart as possible.
Last up, walk backward to where you started.
3. Standing Hip Abduction
This is a favorite exercise of mine. It works the hip muscles and the glutes like nothing else. Plus, it also has an element of balance to it, which is great for runners.
Create a loop by passing one handle around a sturdy object and the other around your right ankle, then stand tall with the left foot on the tubing, while holding the opposite handle.
If you have balance issues, then feel free to hold onto a secure object.
Next, while keeping the right knee straight and engaging the core, kick your right leg outward, hold for a moment, then slowly return to the starting position.
Please allow for no rotation in the hips throughout the exercise. Instead, keep the focus on using your hip muscles.
Aim for 12 to 16 reps on each
h side to complete one set.
4. Ankle Dorsiflexion
If you have a bad history of lower leg pain or shin splints, then dorsiflexion, which is the angling of the foot toward the shin, is a great exercise to bulletproof your lower half against common overuse injury.
Start by sitting on a mat with your knees extended, then wrap the middle of the band around your right foot and grasp the handle.
Next, pull your right foot up towards your shin as far as possible, then slowly return to the starting position as soon as you reach maximum dorsiflexion to complete one rep.
Do at least 12 to 16 reps on each side to complete one set.
Clams target the out thighs, glutes, groin and the hip flexors.
Begin by laying on your right side, resting the head on your hand or arm, or propped up on your forearm, then while keeping the knees slightly bent, place your feet together, one on top of the other.
Next, loop the tubing band around your knees, then lift top knee upwards 8 top 10 inches, keeping the feet together the entire time. Hold for a count of three, then slowly lower to the starting position.
5. Squat with Resistance Band
The squats are one my favorite strength exercises of all times. They target the core, glutes, quadriceps and calves. Not only that, these are also great for promoting mobility and a full range of motion in the entire lower body.
And doing them with the bands can offer more resistance, which is always great
Assume an athletic position while standing one the bands with both feet, shoulder width apart, then press your butt back, and squat down to grip a handle in each hand, then stand up straight with the handles raised to shoulder height.
Next, while keeping your chest up and back flat, squat down as if you were going to sit in a chair behind you. Once both of your knees are bent at a 90 degrees angle, press back to the standing position to complete one rep.
Make sure that your knees are tracking over your toes throughout the exercise.
6. Standing Kickbacks
These primarily target the hamstrings—the muscles of the back of the thighs—and the gluteus maximus—the butt muscles.
Start by looping the resistance band just above your ankle.
Then face a sturdy object, like a chair or a wall, or anything you can use to help you with balance.
Next, while slightly bending your right knee, lift your left foot off the ground, driving the heel back in a kickback motion. Hold for a moment at the top of the movement, then lower down and repeat on the same side.
Make sure to engage your core muscles as you lift.
And please allow for no rocking forward.