Beginner Running Strength Workout
Your strength training can make or break your run, no matter your level of experience! Below we have outlined a beginner running strength workout, with options to make it more challenging as you get more comfortable!
We’re focusing on what we like to call “accessory muscle groups,” meaning the smaller, less obvious muscles that are actually quite valuable to our run form and performance.
Beginner Running Strength Workout: Toe / Heel Walking
The first accessory muscle group we were going to strengthen are the foot and ankle muscles. To start, walk on up on your toes for about 20 to 30 steps, and then walk on your heels with your toes flexed up for another 20 to 30 steps.
These exercises are ideal to strengthen the flexors and extensors around your ankle and shin, ultimately creating stability on your run.
Beginner Running Strength Workout: Ankle Circles & Ankle Pumps
Working on that same muscle group, we’re going to do some ankle circles to improve our range of motion.
For this one, stand up nice and tall and pull your knee up to your chest. If you can’t find your balance, try standing against a wall, or sit down if you need to.
Once you’re stable, make a circular motion with your foot 10 times in one direction, and then 10 times in the other direction. Our goal here is a smooth circular motion, making sure to hit all parts of the circle without gaps.
After you’ve done 10 in each direction, finish this segment with 20 ankle pumps, just pumping your foot straight down and straight up. And then repeat all of this on the other leg!
(Also read: How to Deal With Heavy Legs When Running)
Beginner Running Strength Workout: Single Leg Bridge
We’re now going to move into some hip and core exercises. For the next three exercises, try to do 3 rounds of 10 reps of each exercise.
For this first exercise, a single leg bridge, lay down on your back with your feet flat on the ground, tucked in fairly close to you.
From there, press your feet into the ground to lift your hips up, creating a bridge shape. Next, try to march your feet underneath you, picking up one foot and then the other, making sure your hips do not drop as you lift your feet.
If that goes well, try extending one leg out in front of you off the ground, and making that same bridge shape with only one foot on the ground. Repeat this movement, lowering and raising your hips on one leg, 10 times on each side.
Beginner Running Strength Workout: Side Plank With Lateral Leg Raise
Side planks can be tricky, but they’re very important for hip and core stability, so we’ve got some options depending on your level of experience!
For beginners with this exercise, start by facing sideways and having one knee on the ground underneath you, and the other leg extended straight out, with one hand on the ground.
If that’s pretty easy for you, try extending both legs out straight. And if that goes well, you can stack one foot on top of the other, forming a narrower base for your side plank.
No matter which option you chose, you’re going to lift your top or extended leg up and down 10 times. Make sure you keep your hips up high while you do this!
(Also read: Should We Go Running After Leg Day?)
Beginner Running Strength Workout: Single Leg Push Up
To start, find a solid straight plank on your hands, and practice a few push-ups, laying all the way down at the bottom.
From your plank, you’ll rock forward, lower down all the way to your stomach, keeping your elbows vertical over your wrists, and then raise yourself back up by rolling through your body, your knees being last to come off the ground.
Once you have that, we’re going to try the same exercise with only one leg on the ground. Find your one-legged plank, making sure your back and hips are in a straight line still.
The push-up will look exactly the same, just with one leg on the ground. If you can keep the other leg extended the whole time, awesome! If not, feel free to rest it on the ground at the bottom of the push-up, and then bring it back off the ground once you’re back in plank.
Beginner Running Strength Workout: Assisted Leg Swings
Now, let’s move into a cool down, shall we?!
To start, find something stable to hold onto and complete 20 easy leg swings from the front to the back. It’s always nice to take the balance demand out of the equation, so that we can really open up those hips and cool our muscles down.
After that, face what you’re holding onto and complete 20 leg swings side to side, crossing over your body, and then swinging open. And then complete all of this on the other leg.
Beginner Running Strength Workout: Squat Sit
For our last exercise, separate your feet about shoulder-width, with your toes slightly turned out, and make your way to the very bottom of your squat.
You’re just going to hang out here for about 2-3 minutes with a flat back, your knees wide, and your heels down. If that’s a bit too challenging, hold onto something in front of you while you’re there.
Get out your phone, read a book, whatever! Just let your body recover and stretch in this position.
About the Author:
Holly Martin is a San Francisco-based running coach and personal trainer. With a 20+ year background in dance, Holly brings a strong focus on technique and mobility to all of her coaching. Currently, she trains clients at Midline Training and Nfinite Strength, and coaches online with The Run Experience, an online training community for running programs and workouts.