Training

5 key lower body strength exercises for runners

Dec 10, 2019

The importance of strength training for runners should never be under-estimated. Not only do you strengthen your muscles, which could lead to improved race time, but you reduce your chances of injury. Weak major muscle groups can cause your smaller supporting muscle groups to become strained and fatigue quicker, which leads to a higher risk of injury.

When looking at lower body exercised, it’s especially important to keep your glutes strong as weak glutes can be the cause of many injuries for runners.

Run Life’s resident Personal Trainer has put together 5 lower body strength exercises which will go a long way to improving your running.

Donkey kick with resistance band

Works glutes.

  • Get down on your hands and knees with a resistance band just slightly above your knees
  • Kick one back bending the knee at 90 degrees with your heel pointing up.
  • Slowly bring your leg back in line with the other then lift the same knee to the side, then back down.
  • Lift your knee to the side as far as you can then back down
  • Repeat 20 times, then repeat on the other leg
  • Start with 3 sets and build up to 4

When doing this exercise, it’s important that you don’t rock your back and swing your leg. Focus on your glutes and hamstrings throughout the movement.  This exercise can also be useful as part of the rehab for ITB, piriformis and sciatic nerve injuries.

Donkey kick

Standing lateral raise

Works glutes and hip abductors.

  • Place a resistance band around your ankles
  • Lift one foot to the side and slowly return to the starting position.
  • Complete 20 repetitions. Repeat on the other leg.
  • Complete 3 sets to begin with and advance to 4 sets

This exercise can also be done without the band, although it is less intense. Kick your foot up to the side and tap foot with your hand. This version of the exercise will work your obliques as well.

Standing Lateral raise

Standing Lateral raise 2

Lunge and twist

Works glutes, core and shoulders and works on the movement used when running. 

There are 3 variations of the exercise for beginners, intermediate and advanced.

Beginner – Or for those who feel pain in their knees when lunging

  • Start in standing position with feet shoulder width apart
  • Step forward landing with your front foot flat and back foot with the heel up
  • Twist your body to the same side as the leg that is forward.
  • Bring your body back to facing forward and return to the starting position.
  • Complete 20 repetitions and repeat on the other side.
  • Complete 3 sets and advance to 4 sets.

Beginner lunge and twist

Intermediate – The modified lunge

  • Start in a standing position with one leg forward. Your front foot should be flat foot and your back foot with your heel up
  • Lunge down and twist your body to the side.
  • Bring your body back to facing forward and return to the starting position.
  • Complete 20 repetitions and repeat on the other side.
  • Complete 3 sets and advance to 4 sets.

Modified lunge and twist

Advanced – The 90-90 lunge

  • Start in a bent down position with one leg bent forward at 90 degrees and the other bent back at 90 degrees.
  • Lift your body slightly and twist to the side.
  • Bring your body back to facing forward and drop back down again
  • Complete 20 repetitions and repeat on the other side.
  • Complete 3 sets and advance to 4 sets.

Advanced 90-90 lunge

Hip thrust with resistance band

Works glutes.

  • Lie on back with knees bent and a resistance band just above the knees
  • Push your hips all the way up, activating your glutes
  • Then push your knees apart.
  • Slowly close your knees and lower your hips back down
  • Complete 20 repetitions and repeat on the other side.
  • Complete 3 sets and advance to 4 sets.

Hip thrust with band

Side step squat with resistance band

Works quads and glutes.

  • Place a resistance band around your ankles and stand with feet slightly apart
  • Step to the side and drop into a squat.
  • Slowly stand back up and return to the starting position.
  • Complete 20 repetitions and repeat on the other side.
  • Complete 3 sets and advance to 4 sets.

Side step squat with band

Exercises prepared by Tumelo Mosia


Tumelo is a certified personal trainer, working out of the Virgin Active in Randburg, Johannesburg. He specialises in sports specific conditioning, weight loss and general toning. Tumelo is also an avid runner who has achieved numerous sub-3 marathons and is a silver Comrades medallist. Read  more about Tumelo Mosia


 

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