A Simple Strength Training Routine for Runners

Do you have a strength training routine that you love or hate? Sometimes we can get in to such a rut and don’t know what to do or we over-complicate the process and then do nothing.

Or maybe you simply go in spurts. One week you just love one routine and the next week you swear you will never do it again only to find yourself loving it again a month later. (Anyone else, or just me?)

Perhaps you don’t do any kind of weight or resistance training and you want to start but aren’t sure where. This routine that I am going to share is great for both a beginner or intermediate since it is simple, straightforward and can be done at home!

No matter your current love/hate relationship you might have with your strength training routine, here is another simple option if you’ve just had it with your current schedule.

(If you’re not sure why a runner would even want to include strength training into their already full schedule then read this page if you’re prepared to have your mind changed. :)


Breakdown your strength training into different groups:

I want you to break down you’re strength training into 3 different groups: lower body, upper body, and total body.

Now let’s look at each of the major muscles in those groups that you want to target when you are doing a strength workout:

Upper Body:

  • Shoulders
  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Chest
  • Back

Lower Body:

  • Calves
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes

Total Body would be the combination of both upper and lower body with some ab moves mixed in!

A Simple Strength Training Routine for Runners

Now let’s put the framework on the breakdown of our muscle groups for this simple routine!

You want to work each of those major muscle groups in your upper and lower body. You can target all of them by 5 simple moves for each group.

Upper body:

  • Shoulder press (shoulders)
  • Bicep curls (biceps)
  • Tricep push backs (triceps)
  • Upright Rows (back muscles)
  • Push-ups (chest)

Do each exercise for 10 repetitions and repeat the circuit for a total of 3 sets. (Therefore you will be doing 30 repetitions of each move.)

Lower Body:

  • Squats (quadriceps + glutes)
  • Lunges (hamstrings + glutes)
  • Dead lifts (hamstrings + glutes)
  • Calf raises (calves)
  • Sumo/plie squats (inner thighs + quadriceps + glutes)

Again, do each exercise for 10 repetitions and repeat the circuit for a total of 3 sets.


How long will each of these routines take you?

Each of these routines take me only about 10 minutes to do. Therefore they are perfect for tacking on to the end of your runs! (I also have this upper body strength routine for runners as well as this arms add-on routine when you want to do more after a run.)


How much weight should you use?

You will find that you can lift heavier when you are doing your lower body routine while your upper body routine you might want lighter weights for everything except for your back muscles (upright row).

If you are new to strength training, I would recommend just going through the moves without any weight at all. After you are comfortable with all of the moves gradually increase your resistance starting with 2-5 pounds.

If you are comfortable and more experienced, I think these are great routines to lift a little bit heavier and build more muscle. This will be subjective to each individual. I will usually go with 10 pounds for the upper body routine and use 15 pound weights for the upright row.

The lower body routine is perfect for using 10-20 pounds depending on your strength level. I find 15 pounds to be a good fit if I’m hitting it hard. :)

Always modify if you need to. Start by lifting heavier and then drop the weight as necessary.

If you currently do not have any weights, here is a great option set for beginners but I’m seriously tempted to invest in this set that is just one dumbell with multiple weight settings to build on! Who has one of these already?! Let me know!


How often should you do these strength training routines?

I like to hit each major muscle group in the body at least once and ideally twice per week.

This means that you could do the upper and lower body routine all on one day and repeat the circuit on one other day during the week.

You could also do the upper body routine on 2 days out of the week and then do the lower body on 2 separate days out of the week.


How to modify these strength training routines

Here are some ideas for making these routines your own:

- Find exercises that target each of those major muscle groups that we talked about at the beginning of this article and then put it into the “framework” of 3 sets of 10 repetitions per move.

For example, instead of doing a bicep curl do a hammer curl. Instead of doing a shoulder press do a lateral arm raise. Instead of doing a regular squat do a narrow squat. Instead of doing just a lunge, do a lunge and then bring your leg up to your chest and then back down again into a lunge.

- You can also change up how many repetitions you do. Maybe set a timer and do each move for 1 minute or perhaps do each move until you can can only do 1 more repetition.

- Do super sets where you do the 10 repetitions of  one move, take a quick rest, and then do another 10 of that same move, followed by a rest and then do your last 10 repetitions of that same move to burn out that muscle.

You really can get creative with your routines and have fun with them!


The quickest way to build strength:

The best way to gain strength and change your body composition is to MIX.IT.UP.

Working your muscles in different ways and by lifting heavier and lighter weights for shorter or longer amounts of time is very effective in seeing changes and building strength and definition.

This is why in the 12 Week Half Marathon Weight Loss Challenge I provide you with a different strength workout each week of the challenge!


I hope this upper and lower body strength training routine inspires you to try something new but never to over complicate the process.


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