4 At Home Strengthening Exercises for Runners

Runners calves

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Do you have a strengthening program?


Strengthening exercises are essential for all runners. Whether you are recovering from an injury, trying to prevent an injury or increasing your performance, if the answer to the above question was no, it's time to change your approach.


I get it - some of you want to avoid the gym. Runners avoid the gym like the plague. Meatheads! Roid junkies! I don't want to bulk up or stared at the squat rack. Perhaps you quite simply don't want to pay - running shoes are getting more expensive after all. 


Here are some easy, at-home exercises you can do to get on top of your injuries and improve your performance—no need to go to the gym, so no excuses. 


Please note, these aren't the only exercises you should do, but consider it a good starting point.

Squats

Women doing squats with no weights at home

Photo by Ron Lach

Squats an exercise that I am sure you know. For an easy, at-home variation, try bodyweight squats or source some weights. If you'd like to increase the difficulty, try single-leg squats, invest in some dumbbells or a weighted backpack.


Squats will help you target your gluteus maximus, hip flexors and quadriceps: the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and the rectus femoris. All essential muscles for runners.

Calf Raises

Man doing calf raises on a step

Photo by Grant Pritchard (click here for original article)

You can do calf raises in a few variations:

  1. Bent-knee giving you a focus on the soleus
  2. Straight-knee focusing on your gastrocnemius
  3. The above on the flat ground
  4. The above on a step (heel off) to increase range

If you have access to dumbbells or a weighted backpack, throw them in the mix.


Quite simply put, your calves are shock absorbers when you run. Your soleus absorbs up to 8 times bodyweight per stride. So it will be silly not to focus on this muscle group. 

Lunges

Female runner doing lunges in the dark
Photo by Oleg Magni

The basic lunge will help you target your quads, glutes and hamstrings. Stand tall, simultaneously step one foot forward until your leg reaches a 90-degree angle ensuring your knee doesn't go over the front foot's toes and keep the rear knee tracking in a straight line. 


Again, dumbbells and weighted backpacks add to make these even more challenging. 

Glute hamstring walkout

Man doing a glute bridge hamstring walk out gif
Originally from MensHealth (here)

Lie on your back, feet flat on the floor, knees bent and pointing towards the ceiling. Now, raise your hips towards the ceiling while squeezing your glutes. You are currently in a glute bridge! From here, you walk your feet outwards, one leg at a time, while keeping your butt off the ground. Once your legs are extended fully, slowly walk those legs back in. 


This exercise will also help you target the hamstrings, as well as your glutes. 

Glute hamstring walkout

Lie on your back, feet flat on the floor, knees bent and pointing towards the ceiling. Now, raise your hips towards the ceiling while squeezing your glutes. You are currently in a glute bridge! From here, you walk your feet outwards, one leg at a time, while keeping your butt off the ground. Once your legs are extended fully, slowly walk those legs back in. 


This exercise will also help you target the hamstrings, as well as your glutes. 

About the author:

Ben Lindsay is the Managing Director and engineer behind the Solushin medical device. A former national medalist swimmer, Ben aspires to learn from physicians, physiotherapists and podiatrists so he can develop tools to improve the quality of care for their patients.

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