Strength Training Exercises to Improve Your Running Performance

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Cross Training For Runners
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Written by :

David Dack

Are you looking for ways to improve your running performance? Running is a high-intensity sport that demands strength, speed, and endurance. Believe it or not, the key to boosting your mileage and improving your performance is not more cardio, but strength training. 

Strength training for runners can make you faster, stronger, and help you improve your pace. In this article, we’ll review some of the most effective strength training exercises for runners, and how they can reduce your risk of injury, boost your performance, and help you advance in your sport.


It goes without saying that leg-strengthening exercises should be a key component in your training program. Lunges target your hamstrings, quads, and glutes to improve balance, muscle strength, and coordination.

To perform a lunge correctly, begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. While shifting your weight to one leg, slowly step forward with the opposite leg and lower your back knee toward the ground. Try to keep your front knee at a 90-degree angle. Do this for three sets of 10-12 reps with each leg.


Deadlifts are a compound exercise that targets various muscle groups including the lower back, core, glutes, and hamstrings. While building strength in the legs, deadlifts also strengthen your core to improve your posture during runs. This will help offset some of the stress that running puts on your body by allowing proper movement of your joints, ligaments, and muscles.

Deadlifts are very simple and the weight can be adjusted based on your fitness level. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and the barbell on the floor, grip both hands tightly around the bar. While keeping your arms straight and spine neutral, brace your core muscles and slowly lift the barbell to hip or thigh level. Then keep your back straight as you slowly lower the bar back down to the ground. Repeat for three sets of 10-12 reps.

Calf Raises

At first sight, calf raises may not seem all that impressive. However, they are a simple yet incredibly effective exercise to boost your speed and reduce your risk of injury. This is because calf raises isolate your soleus and gastrocnemius muscles, which are two highly injury-prone sites in runners.

To do a calf raise, simply stand on a step with your heels hanging over the edge. Shift your weight to your toes and raise your heels up as high as you can, and then gently lower them back down. Repeat this for three sets of 10-12 reps.


Earlier we discussed the importance of core strength for runners. Planks are a dynamic, full-body exercise that can help improve your posture and balance, and help prevent back pain. To perform a plank, begin in a pushup position, straightening your spine with your arms fully extended. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds, then relax and rest for 30 seconds. Repeat this exercise for three sets. 

Strength training plays a vital role in your performance, and should be a focal point of every runner’s training program. Lunges, deadlifts, calf raises, and planks are all highly effective exercises to improve strength, balance, posture, and speed, and reduce your risk of injury.

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