Running is one of the best things you can do to stay in shape, but did you know there are additional exercises that will improve your athletic standing? These exercises for runners can make you faster, stronger and more efficient.
Most runners will say the only exercise they need is a good run. I know I was guilty of this for some time. However, other exercises can improve your balance, strength, endurance and even your power.
5 Amazing Exercises For Runners
To help, we put together a list of five great exercises for runners you can do to help improve your body. What makes these exercises unexpected is that they’re not what most runners would consider orthodox.
Planks are absolutely fantastic for strengthening your core muscle groups like your abdominals. They also work other key areas like your lower back, shoulders and arms, provided you do the exercise properly.
What makes them an ideal strength-training exercise – especially for runners – is that they don’t require extra equipment, but they are great for building endurance.
To do a plank, lay down on your belly and prop yourself up straight – like if you were doing a pushup – using your feet and elbows. Keep your body as straight as possible with your abdominal muscles tight, and your legs locked in a straight position.
Make sure your elbows are directly below your shoulders so your arms are straight up and down. If it feels comfortable, you’re probably not doing it right.
Once you get the position correct, hold it for 45 seconds to a minute. At first you’ll struggle, but eventually, you should be able to add more time to the length of your planks.
For a maximum workout, do anywhere from three to five sets.
2. Water Running
Running is a great exercise, but it can be hard on the body. That’s why it’s a great idea to switch from land running to water running from time to time.
Not only is running underwater an improvement for the body, it’s also a more difficult and intense workout.
Studies have shown that being exposed to a 50 percent water resistance setting from water jets is equal to running about 1 mph faster on land. A 75 percent resistance setting increases your overall speed by 2 mph.
With the jets at a 100 percent resistance setting, the exercise is the equivalent of running at a 10 percent incline on a regular treadmill. Talk about an intense workout!
There are many ways to run underwater. You can pick up a certified underwater treadmill if you’ve got the cash for it, or you can just hop into a pool and run laps.
3. Bodyweight Squats
Another great exercise that can be done without any equipment is the bodyweight squat. As the name implies, you’re using the resistance from the weight of your body to get a workout.
Squats are excellent exercises for runners because they work out all the core muscles including legs, back and abdominals.
To do them, stand upright with your feet about hip distance apart. Face your toes forward, and sit back like you would if there was a chair behind you. Be sure to keep your knees and toes facing forward the whole time.
Then, sit back slowly until you feel your muscles tighten. Your knees should be close to a 90-degree angle. Stand up again after some time.
For a full workout, you’ll want to do about eight to 12 repetitions, with three to five sets. You can add weight if the squats become too easy after a while. Just hold household objects or weights at your side while you do the squats.
Lunges are a lot like squats, and they work the same core muscle groups. They are nearly perfect for runners because when you do them, you carry out the same basic movements as running or walking.
Doing a lunge is pretty simple. Stand with your feet together and take a small step forward. Transfer your body weight to your front leg, swinging your hips forward. It’s important that you keep your back and shoulders straight. It helps if you let your arms hang at your sides.
Keep leaning forward slowly, lowering your stance and putting more weight on the hamstring of your forward leg. Be careful not to get too hasty, because you’re also putting a lot of stress on the groin area.
Wait in the forward position for a few moments, and then return to the starting position and switch legs. Repeat the lunge motion for the opposite leg.
For this exercise, you’ll want to do about eight to 10 repetitions per leg, with a total of two to three sets.
Yoga is a little different because it’s not always that intense or strength-based. However, due to the nature of it, it’s great for runners because it can help loosen tight muscles, strengthen weak areas of the body and lower the risk of injury.
The beauty of yoga is that it’s totally customizable. There are so many different poses in yoga that you can come up with a completely custom routine that fits your lifestyle best.
Obviously, the best poses to incorporate are the ones that work the same core muscles you use when you’re running, such as your legs, abdominals and back. It’s also great to stretch out your hips and hamstrings with some yoga poses to cool down after a long run.
Not only will these 5 exercises for runners help improve your physical condition, but they will ultimately help make you a better athlete.