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Strength training for running: 6 key exercises

The single-leg movements in these strength training exercises ensure you build up balanced strength. It will also increase the stability of your muscles so every run step is controlled and powerful

Triathletes need a lot more muscle in their lower body than their upper body. This is because your lower body plays a much bigger role in powering you round a race – particularly during the bike and the run. As such, it’s worth focussing on the lower body exercises to build more mass and strength.

>>> Strength training for swimming: 6 key gym exercises

>>> Strength training for cycling: 6 key exercises

   

1. Diagonal lunge

Muscles targeted: Quadriceps, glutes, adductors, calves, abdominals.

Session: 3 x 10 reps to each side, rest 2mins between sets.

Method: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a big diagonal step – about 45˚ – with one leg so your back knee brushes the floor as you sink down into a lunge. Push off your front foot to return to the start position.

2. Single-leg deadlift

Muscles targeted: Hamstrings, glutes, abdominals.

Session: 3 x 6 to each side, rest 2mins between sets; work with a weight that would only allow you to get out a couple more reps if you had to.

Method: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Start the movement by bending at the hip, extending a free leg behind you for balance. Continue lowering the dumbbells until you’re parallel to the ground, and then return to the upright position. 

3. Plank

Muscles targeted: Rectus abdominus, transverse abdominis, obliques.

Session: 3 x 30secs hold, rest 2mins between sets.

Method: Get into a press-up position, lower down onto your elbows and hold, keeping your body in a straight line from heels to shoulders.

4. Dumbbell squat jump

Muscles targeted: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, abdominals.

Session: 3 x 6, rest 2mins between sets; work with a weight that would only allow you to get out a couple more reps if you had to.

Method: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in a hammer grip position in each hand. Lower into at least a parallel squat, then explode up into a vertical jump. Squat to at least parallel, so where the crease of your hip is just below the top of your knee. If this is a struggle, try widening your stance.

5. Resistance band clam

Muscles targeted: External hip rotators, glutes.

Session: 3 x 10 to each side, rest 2mins between sets.

Method: With a resistance band (you can also use inner tubes, just wrap them around your legs and tie a knot) around your lower quads, lie on your side with your head resting on your arm and the other hand on the floor in front of you for balance. Bend your legs so they form a V and, keeping your feet together, lift your top
knee so you open up a space between your legs, then return to the start position under control. Keep your hips locked in place while you do this move. 

6. Swiss ball forward rollout

Muscles targeted: Rectus abdominus, transverse abdominis, obliques.

Session: 3 x 6, rest 2mins between sets.

Method: Kneel and rest your elbows on a Swiss ball. Bracing your abs and keeping your elbows on the ball, roll it forwards as far as you can while keeping your body in a straight line from knees to shoulders. 

To avoid injury, keep a neutral spine and flat back throughout all of these exercises. Avoid rounding your upper or lower back. 

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