Running is a whole body workout.
However, once you’ve started to find your feet with it, you might detect the odd ache, niggle or area of weakness, and this could be a sign that you might benefit from strength training.
Strength training – also known as resistance of weight training – is a great complementary activity to add into your routine to strengthen and condition the whole body and help you avoid injury.
If you’re thinking of dabbling in strength training, the good news is that it doesn’t need to be a huge time commitment – even 10-15 minutes a couple of times a week can make a difference to your running performance and how you feel afterwards.
And the even better news is that, with these exercises at least, you don’t need to invest in any expensive equipment. These five exercises each target different groups of muscles, and the weight or resistance involved comes from your own body.
So hold off on ordering those dumbells until you’ve given these five easy – and effective – strength training exercises a go.
After a quick warm up , it’s time to focus on your legs, and these lunges work your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves.
Step your left foot behind your right – two to three feet is fine. Your body should be straight on, your shoulders back and down and your hands on your hips. Then engage your core and you’ve got the perfect lunge stance.
Bend your knees and lower your body until your left knee – the back knee – is almost touching the floor. Make the movement nice and slow to increase the intensity. Your front thigh should be parallel with the ground and your weight should be split between both legs evenly. Then straighten your back knee until you’re standing again.
Repeat ten times and then swap your legs around so your right leg is behind. If you do decide to splurge on some hand weights, you can add bicep curls into your lunges for an extra muscle boost!
Don’t be fooled – just because you’re lying down for this one doesn’t mean it’s not a workout.
Lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet on the ground hip-width apart. Your arms should be by your sides a few inches away from your body with your palms facing downwards.
Engage your core and lift your hips off the ground so that your body forms a bridge shape. Your torso and your legs should be doing the lifting work. This is a great workout for your glutes and core in particular, which will help give you stability and power when running.
Repeat ten times, then move on.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart in a squat stance – so knees bent, thighs almost parallel with the ground as if you’re about to sit down on a chair, and hold. Go deeper, hold your weight on the balls of your feet and use your legs to propel you into a jump with your arms in the air.
Land firmly on both feet and go into a squat again, then repeat ten times. Fantastic for building muscle in your calves, thighs and glutes.
Get into a high plank position – so start kneeling, walk your hands forward and extend your legs out behind you. Lift your body up so that your hands and toes are the only part of your body making contact with the mat and make sure your core is engaged. Your hands should be directly below your shoulders.
Then come the shoulder taps. Slowly and steadily, lift your right hand from the mat and bring it across your body to tap your left shoulder. Replace your right hand to the mat and repeat with the opposite hand and shoulder. No swinging or rocking – your core, glutes and arm muscles will thank you!
Continue for a minute before resting, or as long as you can. Then repeat.
Now you’re feeling super strong, make like Superman with this nifty little exercise.
Lying on your stomach, extend your arms out on the mat above your head. Lift your arms and legs off the ground for a few seconds, then lower gently. Repeat for a full minute, then rest.
Mix things up by raising the opposite arm with the opposite leg, and build up to two minutes. Cape optional!
Now you’ve given strength training a go, take a look at our training and advice section and see what other tips and tricks you could try.