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Sports that help improve running

Completing a half-marathon is a great accomplishment, but it can sometimes be tedious. Runners who want to mix things up from their weekly runs may consider adding some other sports to the mix. Even if you don’t run, you can benefit from other activities that train muscles you might not otherwise use.

Various activities work the core, lungs, and legs, all of which assist runners in improving their focus, speed, endurance, strength, flexibility, and VO2 max. Running is a pretty unidimensional activity. That makes several sports outside of the track extremely helpful for a runner.

Why do runners need another sport?

Running is a unidimensional sport. When there is an excessive amount of it, it inhibits mobility. It also reduces the usage of muscles that aid in lateral movement. When these muscles get weaker, the muscles around them have to work harder to keep us moving normally, causing pain.

Not immediately apparent is that the site of discomfort may only be a symptom, not indicative of the underlying cause.

It’s also simple to concentrate on enhancing one of two locations while neglecting to exercise other body parts. As a result, there is a strength imbalance. Leg pain can result if you only work your quadriceps without working your hamstrings. Due to the quads and hammers’ role in knee rotation, this is the reason why.

A brief look at the common muscles used in running


The frontal thigh muscle comprises 4 muscles collectively known as the quadriceps. Your quadriceps must have tensed up whenever you had run uphill. The quadriceps unquestionably contribute significantly to a runner’s stride. As you land, your quadriceps stabilize and deflect the impact by bending your hip and extending your knee. Moving from your stance to the swing phase transfers energy to your hamstrings, propelling you forward.


The hamstrings are a muscle that extends the hip and controls the leg. The muscles are in charge of generating thrust during the take-off phase. Strong hamstrings are essential for running more quickly and sprinting effectively. The three major hamstring muscles are semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris.


The calves’ purpose is to act like a spring while you run, adding some force to each step. They attenuate shock when the foot moves higher. The primary muscles include gastrocnemius and soleus.


Gluteus maximus and medius are important for stance. As you lift your leg behind you, your body gets propelled forward by strong glutes that stretch the hip. Leg muscles work as a stabilizing anchor for pelvic movement whenever your feet aren’t on the ground. The running economy suffers from weak glutes. It also raises the possibility of injury.


These hip muscles are the hip flexors, the psoas major and iliacus, and the rectus femoris. They are near the hip’s front. They are in charge of push-off during the stance phase when they flex and stretch. They regulate knee flexion. They also maintain spinal and pelvic stability throughout the gait cycle.


These upper-body muscles offer stability and coordination with the rest of the body. The abdominals and erector are the muscles that runners should focus on strengthening. The core muscles are rectus abdominis, obliques erector spine, and traverse absominis.

What other sports can complement running?


Running and cycling both involve similar muscle groups. For a speedier ride, developing leg muscles is essential. When exercising other muscles, the quadriceps and hamstrings put in the effort. If you’re still not convinced, try riding your bike up a hill and observing which muscles begin to burn first.

Source: / Coen van de Broek


Sprinting is the main kind of mobility in the game. Sprinting from your goal post to the opposing goal post to attack is popular. Sprinting uses the leg muscles’ fast-twitch fibers, which is why it is so effective. In the final stages of a run, runners use these muscles for speed bursts. Have you ever noticed how much bigger sprinters’ bodies are than marathon runners’? To accelerate, sprinting also makes use of upper body muscles.

Source: / Jeffrey F Lin


A physically demanding activity that requires frequent sprinting and swift direction changes. Tennis develops endurance, speed, coordination, and fast-twitch fibers. Tennis can develop muscle resistance because it is a lateral-moving, high-impact sport.

Source: / Julian Schiemann


Strengthening the bones with intense resistance training is a key component of powerlifting. There’s unquestionably an increase in muscle strength, particularly in the glutes and quads.

Powerlifting burns calories during and after training because of its rigors. Having muscles means they’ll need more food over the long run, which is good for metabolism. As a result, even if you aren’t doing out, you are burning more fat than before.

Source: / Alora Griffiths


Swimming is an excellent companion to running and requires no introduction. As a bonus, it improves lung capacity and provides a strong cardiovascular workout. It tones muscles like the chest and arms that aren’t engaged when running. These muscles can counteract the less-used ones in the running. Engaging your core muscles when doing freestyle or crawl is another great way to work them out.

Source: / Todd Quackenbush


A wonderful sport for building muscle strength is climbing. It’s simple to perform this workout at work, home, or the gym. It’s beneficial for runners’ hips and quadriceps, which typically develop slower than hamstrings.

Source: / Rahadiansyah

Walking / Hiking

This exercise may be incredibly underappreciated. However, it’s an additional method for releasing tense and rigid muscles. It also helps raise your heart rate. Walking the day after a strenuous run or an intense interval training session is good. Your legs will start to move without too much effort.

Source: / Stephen Leonardi


Rowing may not be a practical training option for everyone. But, it is undoubtedly a good way to build general stamina. It is excellent for building fitness and healthy for the back even though you do it while seated. Beginners may notice an increased heart rate as they must work pretty hard. If you’re starting, breaking up your workouts every 10 minutes is a good idea.

Source: / Victor Freitas


The yoga studio may be a good option if you’re looking to improve your flexibility and strength. There are many various styles of yoga. However, they all encourage stretching in ways that runners don’t typically do. You’ll build your back, abs, and upper body during yoga. You’ll also learn the importance of proper breathing techniques.

Source: / Dylan Gillis


There is now a simple way of running longer and faster, which all runners strive for. Long-distance runners can benefit from adding different sports workouts into their routines.

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