Lifting for Runners
My last post was about my Glute and Ab workout that I started doing to help strengthen my core to support and heal my low back. Once I rebuilt enough strength in my glutes, I added some heavier lifting exercises to help build strength for my running. Adding these exercises to my repertoire has really made a huge difference in my running. I feel stronger during my runs, especially running up hills. And I feel so much more stable and confident on awkward terrain, like trails, which is the kind of terrain I prefer. If you want to add some strength to your running, try adding these exercises:
- Bulgarian Split Squat – This is a really good one for runners because it is unilateral and requires each leg to work independently, so it really makes you discover where your weaknesses are on each side. Start with no weight and work up slowly using dumbbells in each hand when you gain enough strength. The key here is to keep your knee over your ankle and don’t let your knee “cave in” to the middle, which is what the tendency will be if you have weak glutes. You will be forced to use the glute and the adductors to pull your knee outward and keep it over the ankle or even slightly outside the ankle (1-2 centimeters outside, not too much). Also, you don’t want to put weight on your back leg (the one that’s up). Here is another good video on how to do the proper form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4OUtEO27UM
- Single Leg Deadlift – This is also good because it teaches you to fire each glute independently. I like the pipe on the back in the video because that helped me a lot when I was first starting. In fact, just doing the movement with the pipe on your back for a while will teach the right movement. For me, when I first started these, they made me super sore, so go slow and don’t do these when you are doing a really intense cycle of running that you won’t be able to do 100% if you are sore. Here’s another video that focuses on single leg deadlifts for runners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F265xoevqrY
- Trap Bar Deadlift – Once you get some strength in your glutes, its time to add some explosive power. This is where the Trap Bar Deadlift comes in. I like the trap bar instead of the straight bar because it doesn’t require learning the proper form for the straight bar, and allows you to use a heavier load and really work on gaining power. I found that this exercise really helped me improve quite a bit. But as I mentioned, I had to work on the strength in the other two above first before I was ready for the trap bar deadlift. Like the single leg deadlift, I was really sore when I started doing these. Also, you want to go HEAVY with these. This is something that you rotate in like every 2-3 months just to throw in that power. You don’t want to do these all the time, and when you do them, be sure that your running schedule will allow for heavy lifting. Also, its a good idea to WARM UP with lighter weight before going heavy. Here’s another good video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNgxEhOoOjo
- Hip Thrusters – This is also great for runners. You might want to do these before you start doing deadlifts. This really makes you focus on the glutes, which really helps reverse the damage done from desk-sitting and losing the ability to use the glutes effectively. And like the others, start off with little to no weight because it will make you sore. And focus on using the glutes and not the hamstrings. To do this, I found that I needed to engage the core so that the glutes had something firm to push against.
- Upper Body Lifts – IMO, keeping the upper body strong is also valuable for a runner. You don’t need to go crazy or anything, but doing some of these will help balance you out: (1) pull ups, chin ups, or some row movement; and (2) some pressing movement like bench or shoulder press.