Step Ups

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10 Best exercises to improve your running

Running is a highly rewarding activity. Not only does it provide great cardiovascular benefits, but it also helps to improve your muscular endurance and stamina. However, like with any physical activity, there are always ways to improve your performance — and this is where specific exercises come in.

If you’re looking to take your running to the next level, read on for some of the best exercises to help improve your running.

Leg Raises

Why it’s important to incorporate exercises into your running routine

When most people think of running, they simply envision putting one foot in front of the other until they reach their destination. However, running is actually a complex physical activity that engages almost every muscle in your body.

While your leg muscles do the majority of the work, your glutes, core, and arm muscles also play an important role in helping you maintain a good form and keep your balance. This is why it’s important to target all of these muscle groups when you’re looking to improve your running.

When you’re running, your muscles are constantly contracting and expanding. This can lead to muscular imbalances and tightness, which can eventually lead to injuries if not addressed.

Incorporating specific exercises into your routine will help to correct these imbalances and improve your overall running form. Not only will this help you run faster and for longer distances, but it will also help you to avoid injuries in the future.

10 of the best exercises to improve your running

There are a variety of exercises that can help improve your running. Here are 10 of the best exercises to help take your running to the next level:

1. Press-ups

The press-up is one of the best exercises you can do to improve your running. It targets your chest, triceps, and shoulders, all of which are important muscles for runners.

To do a press-up, start in a plank position with your hands directly below your shoulders. Slowly lower yourself to the ground, keeping your elbows close to your sides. Pause briefly before pushing yourself back up to the starting position.

If you’re just starting out or want an easier variation, you can do press-ups on your knees. Alternatively, you can increase the intensity of the exercise by doing clap press-ups. To do this, simply push yourself up explosively so that you clap your hands together in midair. Be sure to land softly, so you don’t lose any of the momentum you’ve built up.

2. Step-ups

Step-ups are a great exercise for runners because they target your quads, which are some of the most important muscles for running. This exercise is also great for building up single-leg strength and stability — both of which are important for avoiding injuries.

To do a step-up, stand in front of a box or bench that’s around knee height. Place your left foot on the box and push down through your heel to lift yourself. Bring your right leg up so that it’s in line with your left before stepping back down to the starting position.

Be sure to keep your core engaged throughout the exercise and avoid swinging your legs up. You can make the exercise more challenging by holding dumbbells in each hand or by wearing a weighted vest.

3. Squats

Squats are a great exercise for strengthening your glutes and hamstrings — two muscles that are crucial for running. They also work your quadriceps and calves, which are also important muscles for runners.

To do squats, stand on your feet about hip width apart and pointing straight ahead. Bend at the hips and knees and lower yourself down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Pause briefly before standing back up to the starting position. Be sure to keep your back straight and your head facing forward throughout the entire movement.

You can make this exercise more challenging by holding a weight in your hands or doing jump squats. To do jump squats, simply explode up from the bottom of the squat position and jump as high as you can. Land softly and immediately lower yourself back down into the squat position to prepare for your next jump.

4. Walking lunges

Walking lunges are a great way to improve your running. They target your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, all of which are key muscles for runners.

To do a walking lunge, start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Take a large step ahead using your right leg, dropping your body so that your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Your left knee should be flexed at a 90-degree and positioned just above the ground.

Pause for a moment before pushing off with your right leg and stepping forward with your left leg. Continue alternating legs until you’ve completed the desired number of repetitions.

5. Single-leg deadlift

The single-leg deadlift is another great exercise to improve your running. It targets your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. These are all key muscle groups for runners as they help to stabilize your hips and legs.

Doing a single-leg deadlift is a great way to increase the range of motion in your hips and improve your balance. To do the exercise, start by standing on one leg with your knee slightly bent. Hinge at your hip and reach down to grab hold of the other leg just below the knee.

Keeping your back straight, slowly raise your leg up behind you as you raise your torso back to the starting position. Pause briefly before lowering yourself back down and repeating on the other side.

6. Leg raises

Your leg muscles are essentially the engine that powers your running. As such, it’s important to target them with specific exercises to help improve your performance.

One great exercise for your legs is the leg raise. To do this, simply lie on your back with both legs extended straight up in the air. Slowly lower one leg towards the ground, stopping just before it touches the ground. Pause briefly before returning to the starting position.

You can make this exercise more challenging by keeping your leg straight as you lower it towards the ground. You can also add weight to your ankles or legs to increase the intensity.

7. Dumbbell row

As the name suggests, the dumbbell row is an exercise in which you row a dumbbell (or similar weight) towards your body. It’s an excellent exercise for targeting your upper back muscles, which are key for maintaining good posture while running.

To do the dumbbell row, start by holding a weight in your left hand. Bend forward at the hips so that your torso is parallel to the ground and your right hand is supporting your weight. From here, row the dumbbell towards your body, keeping your elbow close to your side. Pause briefly before lowering the weight back to the starting position.

Repeat on the other side.

8. Triceps dips

Your triceps may not seem like an important muscle group for runners, but they actually play a big role in helping you maintain good form. Strong triceps help to stabilize your shoulder joints, ultimately leading to better running posture and a more efficient stride.

Doing a triceps dip is simple. Start by sitting on the edge of a stable chair with your palms placed on the seat next to you. Place your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart.

Slowly lift yourself off the chair, using your triceps to support your weight. Lower yourself until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle, then press back up to the starting position.

To make this exercise more challenging, you can place your feet on an elevated surface like a step or stool. This will force your triceps to work harder to support your body weight.

9. Superman/back extension

The Superman is an excellent exercise for runners as it targets your lower back, which helps to improve your posture. Good posture is essential for runners as it prevents you from slouching, which can lead to fatigue and injuries.

To do the Superman, lie face down on the ground with your arms extended in front of you. Simultaneously raise your chest, arms, and legs off the ground. Squeeze your glutes and hold this position for a few seconds before lowering yourself back down to the starting position.

If you want an easier variation of this exercise, you can do it with just your legs raised. Alternatively, you can make it more challenging by holding a weight in your hands.

10. Glute bridge

Your glutes are one of the most important muscle groups for runners. They provide power and stability, helping you to maintain a good form.

The glute bridge is an excellent exercise to target your glutes. To do this exercise, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Drive your heels into the ground and lift your hips up so that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.

Hold this position for a few seconds before lowering your hips back down to the starting position. Be sure to squeeze your glutes at the top of the exercise for maximum benefit.

Final thoughts

Running is a great way to get fit and stay healthy. However, in order to run efficiently, it’s important to have strong muscles.

The 10 exercises mentioned above are some of the best for runners as they target key muscle groups that are essential for good running form. Incorporate these exercises into your routine, and you’ll be sure to see an improvement in your running.

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