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The Best Strength Exercises for Running

author image Jesica Salyer
Jesica Salyer graduated from Midwestern State University with a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology. She has 10 years of experience in volleyball mentoring, four years working in fitness training and coordination, and experience playing collegiate volleyball for Rutgers University. She also created RunOnOrganic.com and co-founded Further Faster Forever, a community created to encourage active individuals to challenge themselves.
The Best Strength Exercises for Running
An athlete between jumprope sessions. Photo Credit MeikePetri/iStock/Getty Images

Some runners are hesitant to do resistance training, because it does not seem to match well with running, which requires no sets or reps. To improve as a runner, you must perform exercises that strengthen your leg -- and upper-body -- muscles. Always use caution before working out, stretch adequately and warm up when attempting exercises that are unfamiliar to you.


Lunges are beneficial to building strength in your legs because these exercises mimic the natural motion of a running stride. Keep your torso upright throughout the entire motion. Step a full stride ahead when lunging to help increase flexibility in your hamstrings. Sink your front leg down to a 90-degree angle or slightly less. Let the knee of your back leg kiss the ground during each rep. Increase the intensity of a lunge by transforming the motion into a jump move.


Squats are another powerhouse move for runners. Squats incorporate every major muscle needed for running. As with lunges, good form is key. Use good posture with your shoulders back and your chest out. Never let your knees end up farther forward than your toes, as this may lead to knee injury. Sink your glutes as if you are sitting in a chair and pushing your weight up through your heels. As with lunges, squats become more challenging when morphed into a squat jump.

Jumping Rope

You can "jump rope" without a rope by bouncing repetitively off of the balls of your feet. Though your quadriceps and hamstrings are the prime movers in your body's running motion, neglecting the lower part of your legs will lead to fatigue in that area and will slow you down as you run. As long as you are boosting your heart rate and working your legs, jumping rope will enhance the fitness of your lower legs.


The biggest mistake that runners make is neglecting their upper body. A park bench is a great tool to use if you are new to pushups. Grip your hands onto the backrest of a bench and push your body up from there. Or, try unconventional pushups using postures that add an extra element of balance into the move.

"Fitness Magazine" suggests doing a T-pushup. To perform this move, position yourself sideways on a mat with your knees on the ground and lift your right arm toward the ceiling while supporting your weight with your left arm. Hold the position for two seconds, bring your right arm to the floor and do a regular pushup. Repeat the exercise 10 times and switch sides.

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