Six strength and conditioning moves to up your running game

Fri, Aug 7th 2020
by Anji Andrews
Strength and conditioning equipment

It might surprise you to read that one of the best ways to achieve a new PB doesn’t involve running. Strength and conditioning, a form of additional, functional training, will get you stronger and let you run longer as it helps you to fight off injury. You don’t need a gym to take advantage of these potential gains. The best moves use your own body weight in lieu of weights and can be augmented with resistance bands before there is any need to think about adding anything heavier.

Here are our top strength moves to help you to become a more robust runner.

1. Clams

Clams primarily target your glutes (the strongest muscle in your body, located in the buttocks) which are vital for strong running. Switching your glutes on and getting them firing can also help if you suffer from sore knees or IT band syndrome (ITBS). You can do clams with or without a resistance band depending on your starting point. Technique is really important, so work on getting eight good clams on each side without rolling your hips forward before you progress the number of repetitions.

Try it:

  • Lie on your side with one leg stacked on top of the other, knees bent
  • Slowly lift the top leg, keeping the knee bent and trying not to roll in at the hip
  • Control the leg as you slowly lower it back down

2. Bridges

Like clams, bridges are brilliant for getting glutes firing but will also switch on your quads (the large muscle in the thigh) and get your core (stomach muscles) working. You can bridge with or without a resistance band around your knees, and they can be leveled up by raising one straight leg at a time. Work up to doing 12 bridges, really focussing on your breathing and keeping a flat straight back with good control.

Try it:

  • Lie on your back with your legs shoulder-width apart, feet on the floor and knees bent.
  • Keeping your heels down, push up through your feet to raise your buttocks off the floor and thrust at the hip
  • Work to a straight back, hold, then slowly lower back down without arching your back

3. Planks

Planks are great because there are so many varieties you can do depending on your ability. The plank mainly targets your core, but regular planking a few times a week can strengthen your upper body too. Work on holding a controlled front plank for 30 seconds then add in some side planks to build strong obliques (strong muscles at the sides of your stomach) and lengthen your hamstrings (the muscles at the back of your upper leg).

Try it:

  • Lie on your front and bend your arms to rest in front of you
  • Push up on to elbows or straight arms, whatever feels comfortable
  • Keeping your feet down, straighten your back and control the hold at your core

4. Press ups

A powerful upper body can propel you to a fast finish, improve your running posture, and power you onwards when your legs are tired. Press-ups are a great move for runners because you just need some time and space, there’s no equipment required. Take your time to push through a full range of motion using your chest, arms, and shoulders rather than rushing them. Quality is definitely better than quantity for this exercise.

Try it:

  • With straight legs behind you, put your hands flat on the floor in front of you as you lie on your front
  • Pushing your weight down into your hands, push into the floor through your chest and shoulders to lift your body from the floor
  • Bending the arms, control your body as you slowly lower yourself back to the floor

5. Squats

Squats are excellent for building strong glutes that fire powerfully, as well as working your lower back and quads better than most exercises. Bodyweight squats are a great place to start – we suggest doing them in front of a mirror to start with to get the technique right. Any rolling in of your knees must be addressed to get the best from squatting. Add kettlebells, weighted bars, and try a variety of squats such as front squatting as you get better at this exercise.

Try it:

  • Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart
  • With a slight tilt at the waist, bend the knees and lower yourself to the floor, keeping your head up and slowly controlling the movement
  • Making sure you don’t roll the knees or ankles inwards, push your heels down as you slowly straighten the legs to come back up to a standing position

6. Pull-ups

Pull-ups can be underestimated in their overall body workout power. Like press-ups, pull-ups are essential in powering a great fluid running style and good posture. A full pull up works your chest, shoulders, arms, and core without the need for loads of repetitions. Make sure you build up a good technique to avoid injury and aim to do pull-ups a few times a week to get stronger.

Try it:

  • On a mounted bar, hang with your arms a little more than shoulder-width apart
  • Keeping the core strong and controlled, slowly pull yourself up, keeping a good grip on the bar with both hands
  • Pull your body and legs upwards and bring your chest to the bar before slowly lowering yourself back down

Author
Anji Andrews from geerly

Anji Andrews

A well-known member of the North East UK running community, marathon runner, and GoodGym Area Activator for Newcastle. Anji is the social media voice and part of the production team of the UK's number one running podcast, <a href="https://marathontalk.com/">Marathon Talk</a>. Specialising in copywriting and social media, Anji is passionate about storytelling. She's currently working on her first book for runners due for publication in 2021.


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