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The ultimate 14 day strength training plan for runners

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Strength training is a must for any runner looking to stay healthy and strong and prevent common running injuries.

If you’re new to strength training, then this 14 day strength training plan for runners will provide you with a framework to include strength training exercises into your training routine.

Many new runners neglect strength training and focus solely on pounding the pavement.

While this is fine in the short term, in the long term you will need to incorporate activities like strength training and cross training into your routine to stay strong and injury-free.

The bottom line? If you’re running regularly each week, it is recommended you do strength exercises alongside your running.

The 14 day strength training runners plan in this guide is designed to help any runner who is interested in dabbling in a bit of strength training to improve their running performance.

By incorporating a few simple strength training exercises into your plan each week, you will soon become a stronger and less injury prone runner.

In this guide we’ll explore:

  • What is strength training?
  • Why is strength training for runners important?
  • How much strength training should runners do?
  • What are the best strength training exercises for runners?
  • Strength training for runners Q&A
  • 5 tips strength training tips for runners
  • 14 day strength training plan for runners

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Let’s go!

14 day strength training plan for runners

What is strength training?

Strength training is essentially a type of exercise that specializes in the use of resistance to build the strength, anaerobic endurance and size of skeletal muscles and bone density.

Essentially it’s a method of training to increase muscular strength, power, size and endurance.

Resistance could be in the form of your own bodyweight or weights such as dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells or medicine balls.

Many runners start with bodyweight exercises like squats and lunges before progressing onto weighted exercises.

The key is to start with simple exercises that you are comfortable doing if you’re new to strength training, then progress from there.

Related: 7 of the best running workouts to build endurance, strength and speed 

Why is strength training for runners important?

Here are the benefits of strength training for runners:

  • Helps to build stronger muscles, joints, ligaments and connective tissues
  • Increases bone density
  • Reduces the risk of injury
  • Improves running form and performance
  • Improves overall health
  • Boosts confidence

#1 Helps to build muscles, joints, ligaments and connective tissues

Strength training for runners is important because it helps to build stronger muscles, joints and connective tissues.

Strong muscles and ligaments (such as the glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors) increase your ability to run for faster for longer without getting tired.

#2 Increases bone density

According to Harvard Medical School, you lose bone mass at a rate of 1% per year after the age of 40 through a combination of inactivity, age-related changes and inadequate nutrition.

Strength training helps to slow the rate of bone loss and build stronger and denser bones.

Exercises that put stress on bones – this can be in the form of bodyweight or weighted exercises – help bone-forming cells into action.

#3 Reduces the risk of injury

One of major reasons to take up strength training is that it helps to significantly reduce the risk of injury.

Unfortunately, the injury rate in the running community remains pretty high.

Overuse injuries like IT band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, shin splints and runner’s knee are all very common. 

With an effective strength training plan, you can avoid a lot of these niggling injuries.

#4 Improves running form and performance

Studies have shown that strength training improves running performance, form and power.

According to a 2016 study, a strength training program that includes strength training exercises and plyometric exercises performed 2 to 3 times a week for 8 to 12 weeks is an appropriate strategy to improve running economy in highly trained middle and long distance runners.

#5 Improves overall health

Strength training, like running, has many physical health benefits and is a great activity to improve overall health.

A 2012 study showed that resistance training may enhance cardiovascular health, reduce resting blood pressure, decrease low-density cholesterol and increase high density cholesterol.

Resistance training may also be effective for reducing lower back pain and easing discomfort associated with arthritis and fibromyalgia.

In addition, it has been shown to reverse specific aging factors in skeletal muscles.

#6 Boosts confidence

By doing a regular strength training routine alongside your running, you will be boosting your confidence and self-esteem both on and off the running track.

Weight training, as many forms of exercise, changes your brain chemistry, releasing ‘feel good’ hormones, which helps to improve your mood.

Related: Strength training exercises for runners: The complete guide + 30 sample exercises

14 day strength training plan for runners

How much strength training should runners do?

The amount of strength training you need to do on a weekly basis will depend on how many miles you’re running each week.

Some runners find that completing one strength training session each week alongside running is enough to reap the rewards.

If you do complete one session per week, t’s important you target all of the main muscle groups in these sessions.

This includes exercises that target your legs, core, arms and upper body.

Other runners find it easier to combine their running and strength training and spread it out over multiple days during the week.

This is the approach we’ll take in our 14 day strength training plan for runners.

By sprinkling strength training workouts out across the week (instead of in one lengthy workout), you will free up your time to focus on running and cross training activities like yoga and walking.

Related: 6 simple strength exercises for runners

What are the best strength training exercises for runners?

The best types of strength training exercises for runners are:

  • Full body movements. Also known as ‘compound’ movements, these are movements that use your whole body, including your legs, core, upper body and arms.
  • Unilateral movements. These are movements that use a single leg or single arm, like in a forward lunge or step-ups. Running is considered a unilateral form of movement, meaning that your legs are moving independently of one another, supporting your body.
  • Core strength. These are movements that develop your core strength as a runner. Your core is important when running as it helps to keep a strong and stable position for longer.

Related: 9 best core exercises for runners + 4 core workouts to try

Strength training for runners Q&A

Q: Do I need to visit a gym to complete the plan?

A: Absolutely not!

All of the exercises in this 14 day strength training plan for runners can be completed from the comfort of your own home or outdoors. 

You may need access to a few pieces of equipment like resistance bands and dumbbells for some of the exercises.

If you do not have these at home, then do not worry as the exercises can be adapted not to include the use of equipment. 

Related: Home workouts for runners: Exercises you can do in your living room

Q: Do I need to use weights to complete the plan?

A: You can choose to use weights if you feel comfortable using them.

If you don’t have access to weights at home, then you can use items in your kitchen as substitutions.

For example, baked bean cans, bottles of milk, and bottles of water can be used as weights.

If you’d prefer not to use weights, then each exercise can be adapted so you don’t have to use weights.

Related: Running with a weight vest: 11 benefits + do’s and don’ts

Q: Will regular strength training make me too bulky to run?

A: Many runners think that by doing strength training each week they will become too bulky to run.

The truth is you’d need to do a lot of strength training to bulk up to the point where it will affect your running performance.

Related: 5 best home gym equipment for runners

14 day strength training plan for runners

5 strength training tips for runners

#1 Don’t push through the pain

Do not exercise through pain.

If you feel pain at any point completing any of the exercises in this plan, stop and consult with your doctor or health practitioner before attempting the plan.

Similarly, only complete an exercise if you feel comfortable.

If a previous or current injury prevents you from completing an exercise properly, then do not attempt the exercise.

#2 Focus on form

The key with strength training is proper form and technique.

Exercises should done using steady and controlled movements, instead of rushing through the exercise and risking injury or incorrect form.

#3 Stretch and recover

Stretching and adequate recovery is just as important as running, so make sure you take the time to look after your body in between strength training sessions.

At first you may feel sore the day after completing a group of exercises. This is normal to an extent if you’re new to strength training.

#4 Cross train

A lot of runners complete cross training activities like swimming and yoga on their rest days or cross training days.

Yoga is particularly beneficial to help loosen tight muscles.

#5 Fuel your body properly

Food and nutrition is also important, especially when you’re doing more strength training.

Carbs are your best friend as a runner to keep your energy levels maintained.

With strength training it’s important you get enough protein in your diet to help repair cells after a run or workout.

Related: The ultimate 30 day strength training plan for runners

14 day strength training plan for runners

14 day strength training plan for runners

For 14 days you’ll complete a set of four strength exercises each day:

  • Week 1 – Bodyweight exercises (you will be using your own bodyweight as the resistance)
  • Week 2 – Weighted exercises (you will be using a free weight like a dumbbell or kettlebell as the resistance).

Each strength training workout takes less than 20 minutes to complete each day.

This way it’s easy to slot them in after your run or sandwich them between a warm-up and a run.

You will find that a lot of the strength exercises in the plan target all the main muscle groups in your legs and core, with a few that focus on your upper body. 

Your hips and legs contain all the power muscles when it comes to running – think your glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors.

Your core contains key stabiliser muscles that help you keep a strong and stable position whilst running. 

Related: The ultimate 30 day workout challenge for runners

14 day strength training plan for runners

14 day strength training plan for runners: Week by week plan

Here is each day of the plan broken down.

If you don’t feel comfortable completing any of the exercises in the plan, then feel free to swap it with another exercise of your choice.

Week 1

MondayComplete 3 sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set. 

Squat
Reverse lunge
Single-leg glute bridge
Kneel to stands
TuesdayComplete 3 sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set. 

Plank (hold for 30-45 seconds)
Russian twist
V-sits
Superman pull
WednesdayComplete 3 sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set. 

Squat thrust
Step ups
Forward lunge
Fire hydrant
ThursdayComplete 3 sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set. 

Bicycle crunch
Side plank (hold for 30-45 seconds)
Dead bug
Step up plank
FridayComplete 3 sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set. 

Donkey kickbacks
Calf raises
Hip bridge
Side-lying leg lift
SaturdayComplete 3 sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set. 

Press up
Tricep dips
Bicep curls to push press
Plank sidewalk
SundayRest day

Week 2

MondayComplete 3 sets of 8-12 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set. 

Weighted squat
Weighted reverse lunge
Weighted squat to overhead press
Weighted single leg deadlift
TuesdayComplete 3 sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set.

Plank (hold for 30-45 seconds)
Russian twist with dumbbell
V-sits with dumbbell
Superman pull
WednesdayComplete 3 sets of 8-12 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set. 

Weighted side squat
Weighted goblet squat
Weighted forward lunge
Weighted reverse lunge
ThursdayComplete 3 sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set.

Bicycle crunch
Side plank (hold for 30-45 seconds)
Dead bug
Renegade row with dumbbells
FridayComplete 3 sets of 8-12 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set. 

Weighted squat
Weighted reverse lunge
Weighted squat to overhead press
Weighted single leg deadlift
SaturdayComplete 3 sets of 8-12 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set.

Weighted bicep curl into overhead press
Weighted row 
Weighted lateral raise
Weighted overhead press
SundayRest day

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