When you’re a runner, it’s easy to neglect the strength exercises that are beneficial to your training.
I’ve been there.
You live off the adrenaline of the next sweat fuelled run, trying to push your body that little bit harder each time. And depending on the outcome of your efforts, you can end up feeling either elated or defeated.
After being treated by several physios, consultants and surgeons over the last 15 years, one thing I’ve learnt is that strength exercises are crucial. By strengthening your hips and glutes, you can significantly improve performance and increase speed.
For me personally, it’s also kept me from having surgery on a hip injury. I’ve had two surgeons tell me I should hang up my running trainers and find a good physio.
And while I have a good physio to help out when things get a little tough, (like with half-marathon training) I also do strengthening exercises daily to keep myself as strong and healthy as possible.
Run faster and stronger with these 6 strength exercises
Pick 2 or 3 exercises and incorporate them into your current workout each day. Do 15 repetitions and then repeat.
Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor about hip width apart with your arms down by your side. Feet should be about 30cm from away from your body. Pull your abs in nice and tight. Breathe out as you push through your heels and lift your hips, squeezing the glutes. The end position will be a diagonal line from your shoulders to your knees.
Slowly roll back down to the floor.
Single leg bridges
The same as above, but one leg will be out straight.
Lie on your back, with one knee bent and one leg out straight. Pull your abs in nice and tight. Breathe out as you push through your heel, lifting your hips and your straight leg at the same time. Slowly lower back down to the floor.
Start off lying on your side with your feet and hips stacked, knees at 90 degrees. Make sure your heels are in line with your bum. If you want, you can place your top hand in-front, to help with balance. Pull your abs in nice and tight, and keeping the feet together, slowly open the top leg, squeezing the glutes as you reach the top of the movement. Release back to the start position.
Side lying leg raises
Lying on your side with your legs out straight and toes facing forwards. You can place your top hand in-front, to help stop you rolling forwards or backwards. Raise the top leg up, hold for a couple of seconds then bring it back down.
You don’t need to go to high with this.
Hamstring curls on a stability ball
Lie on your back, with your hips raised and lower legs and ankles resting on top of the ball. Arms are down by your side. Pull the ball in towards your bum. The end position looks like an exaggerated bridge, with your knees pointing up towards the ceiling.
Push the ball away and repeat.
Lateral band walks or crab walk
Start off in a standing position with the band placed just above your knees. Drop into a quarter squat, weight in the heels, and step from side to side.
Throughout the exercise, make sure the weight stays in your heels, rather than your toes.
Depending on how strong you are, you can use a resistance band just above your knees, increasing the resistance the stronger you get. If you need to start off without resistance, do that first.
10 years ago, my left hip flexor was so weak I could barely lift my leg, so I started out without any resistance. Over the years as I’ve progressed, I’ve seen an increase in strength and a reduction in pain.
I am a fully qualified Fitness Instructor & Personal Trainer working in the fitness industry, but I am not a doctor. While these exercises are good for general strengthening, please seek medical advice if you think you have any underlying medical conditions.