Running is a great way to improve your endurance and stay fit. But exclusively performing running workouts ignores a critical aspect of fitness and health—lower-body strength training.
Running at a moderate pace for a long duration increases your aerobic endurance. Your muscles will more efficiently use oxygen. However, you will not get bigger or stronger. Take a look at the the world's best runners; they're small and thin.
You don't necessarily want to bulk up, but you don't want to ignore strength training either—especially of your lower body. Weak muscles won't be able to properly stabilize your joints and absorb the repetitive stress from impacting the ground, which may increase your risk of an overuse injury or a pulled muscle.
To stay healthy, you need to incorporate lower-body strength training into your regular routine—whether you're a competitive runner or someone who runs to stay fit.
Now, I'm not saying you need to lift hundreds of pounds, nor do you have to alter your normal running schedule. At Performance U, we recommend performing a lower-body workout once or twice per week on days when you don't plan to run.
It's also critical to select exercises that do not add further stress to your legs. Performing high-impact exercises can exacerbate lingering injuries and reduce your capacity to actually run.
Below are five exercises that will strengthen your lower body—particularly your hamstrings and glutes—in ways that are kind to your joints so you can stay healthy when logging miles.
Romanian Deadlifts (RDL)
- Sets/Reps: 3-5x6-10
Anterior Reaching Lunges
- Sets/Reps: 2-3x6-8 each leg
Physioball Hamstring Circuit
- Sets/Reps: 1-3x12-20 each exercise
Sled or Tire Pulls
- Sets/Reps: 4-5x25-4
Single-Leg Hip Lifts
- Sets/Reps: 2-3x8-10