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The ultimate 30 day strength training plan for runners

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Combining running and strength training is a great way to prevent common running injuries.

It’s also essential to improve your running form, efficiency and performance. 

If you’re new to strength training, then this 30 day strength training plan for runners is a simple and effective way to incorporate strength exercises into your exercise routine.

Many runners neglect strength training and focus solely on running.

It’s important to incorporate activities like strength training and cross training in your training routine in order to stay strong and injury free for longer.

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

The 30 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.

But fear not! Combining running and strength training doesn’t have to be complicated.

By incorporating a few simple strength training exercises into your plan each week, you will soon see benefits.

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 best strength training exercises for runners?
  • Strength training for runners Q&A
  • 30 day strength training plan for runners
  • Strength training for runners tips

Ready?

Let’s go!

30 day strength training plan for runners

What is strength training?

Strength training is essentially a type of exercise that specialises in the use of resistance.

Resistance helps to build the strength, anaerobic endurance and size of skeletal muscles and bone density.

It could be in the form of your own bodyweight or weights such as dumbbells, 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 strength exercises if you’re new to resistance training, then grow from there.

You’ll want to focus on high repetitions with low volume to begin with to work on your muscular endurance.

For this reason, many people choose to start with bodyweight exercises.

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

Why is strength training for runners important?

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

This in turn makes you run more efficiently and helps you run faster for longer

In addition, one of the biggest reasons to include strength training is that it helps to dramatically reduce the risk of injury.

In fact, various studies have shown that when performed consistently, strength training can mitigate against running injuries and benefit your running form and economy.

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 like the one in this guide, you can avoid a lot of these niggling injuries.

Studies have shown that strength training helps to prevent IT band syndrome.

Other studies have also shown that weight training improves performance, form and power.

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

30 day strength training plan for runners

How much strength training should runners do?

Strength training should be an integral part of any runner’s training plan.

The amount of strength training you need to do on a weekly basis will depend on the extent of your running. 

Most runners find they only need to complete one strength training session per week on a designated strength training day.

Whilst this is fine, if you do this, it’s important you target all of the main muscle groups in these sessions. 

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

This approach is one that we’ll take in this 30 day strength training plan for runners.

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

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: The ultimate 14 day strength training plan for runners

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 30 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.

You’ll see in the plan that the first two weeks comprise of bodyweight exercises and resistance band exercises.

It’s not until week 3 that weights such as dumbbells are introduced into the plan.

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: 5 best home gym equipment for runners

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: 3 hill sprint workouts to increase strength and power

30 day strength training plan for runners

30 day strength training plan for runners

About the plan

For 30 days you’ll complete a set of four strength exercises each day.

The plan is designed to allow your muscles to rest as each workout alternates between various muscle groups.

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. 

Remember, strength training is very much a journey for you and your body – it’s a marathon and not a sprint (excuse the pun).

Don’t be tempted to skip forward to a week – work your way steadily through the plan.

Week by week

Here is my 30 day strength training plan for runners.

I have split the plan into four weeks, with each week getting progressively harder. 

  • Week 1 – Bodyweight strength exercises
  • Week 2 – Resistance band strength exercises
  • Week 3 – Weighted strength exercises
  • Week 4 – Plyometric strength exercises

Depending on how much running you are looking to do each week, you can replace an easy run or cross training day for an additional rest day. 

Here is a breakdown of each run type:

  • Easy run. An easy run is designed to be just that! You should be able to comfortably hold a conversation without getting out of breath on an easy run.
  • Long run. A long run is designed to build your endurance and stamina whatever distance you are training for. Most runners choose to do a long run at a weekend. Like easy runs, they should be done at a comfortable pace.
  • Speed training. Interval training, hill sprints, tempo running and Fartlek training are all forms of speed training that are designed to push you out of our comfort zone.
  • Cross training. Activities like walking, yoga, swimming and cycling are great cross training activities for runners. On your non-run days these activities should be gentle.

You can also choose to re-do the previous week’s plan should you not feel ready to continue onto the next week. 

You will see notes below on using this plan, as well as various tips on completing each exercise.

If you don’t feel comfortable completing any of the exercises, then feel free to swap them with another exercise. 

Week 1 – Bodyweight strength exercises

In the first week, all the strength exercises are bodyweight exercises.

This means you will be using nothing but your own bodyweight as the resistance. 

MondayEasy runComplete 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
TuesdaySpeed trainingComplete 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
WednesdayCross trainingComplete 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
ThursdayEasy runComplete 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
FridayEasy runComplete 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
SaturdayLong runComplete 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 dayRest day

Week 2 – Resistance band strength exercises

This week we ramp things up a little with the introduction of resistance band strength exercises.

If you don’t have a resistance band at home, then you can still complete these exercises without one. 

Resistance bands help to target the major muscles you use while running, mainly your core, glutes and legs.

They are also great to use for low impact exercises if you are recovering from an injury. 

MondayEasy runComplete 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
TuesdaySpeed trainingComplete 3 sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set. 

Banded lying leg raise
Banded bicycle crunch
Horizontal scissors with resistance band
Side plank crunch with resistance band
WednesdayCross trainingComplete 3 sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set. 

Banded standing glute kickbacks
Banded hip flexor marches
Banded standing hip abduction and adduction
Banded clamshells
ThursdayEasy runComplete 3 sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set. 

Banded side lying leg lift
Banded side steps
Banded clamshells
Banded donkey kickbacks
FridayEasy runComplete 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
SaturdayLong runComplete 3 sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set. 

Seated resistance band bicep curls
Overhead resistance band stretch
Resistance band back press
Resistance band row
SundayRest dayRest day

Week 3 – Weighted strength exercises

It’s time to add some weights!

For these exercises you will need a pair of dumbbells.

If you don’t have dumbbells at home then you can substitute for bottles of water or anything that you can safely hold whilst performing these exercises (e.g. cartons of milk, baked bean cans).

It’s important to add weight into your strength training but only once you feel comfortable to do so.

Once you feel you have grasped the basics with bodyweight exercises, then you can graduate to doing strength exercises with weights. 

MondayEasy runComplete 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
TuesdaySpeed trainingComplete 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
WednesdayCross trainingComplete 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
ThursdayEasy runComplete 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
FridayEasy runComplete 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
SaturdayLong runComplete 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 dayRest day

Week 4 – Plyometric strength exercises

This week it’s all about speed and power.

Plyometric exercises (also known as high intensity exercises) are great for runners as they are explosive and target different energy systems. 

In long distance running, you are mainly using your aerobic energy system.

With plyometric exercises, you are tapping more into your anaerobic energy system which helps you do more explosive and powerful movements. 

This energy system is also what allows you to run faster at higher speeds, which is something runners need when looking to achieve that PB. 

It’s important to note that plyometric also means high impact.

So if you’re not quite comfortable with high impact (maybe because of a previous injury) then definitely stick with low impact bodyweight exercises. 

MondayEasy runWork for 40 seconds then take 20 seconds rest in between each exercise. Complete 3 sets. 

Jump squats
Power skips
Jump lunges
Box jumps
TuesdaySpeed trainingRest
WednesdayCross trainingWork for 40 seconds then take 20 seconds rest in between each exercise. Complete 3 sets. 

Skater jumps
Frog jumps
Mountain climbers
Jumping jacks
ThursdayEasy runWork for 40 seconds then take 20 seconds rest in between each exercise. Complete 3 sets. 

Burpees
High knees
Split lunges
Reverse lunge to kick stand
FridayEasy runRest 
SaturdayLong runComplete 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 dayRest day

Strength training for runners tips

#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 Stretch and recover

Stretching and adequate recovery is just as important as running.

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.

#3 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.

#4 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 also to help repair cells after a run or workout.

More strength training tips:

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Jennifer

Monday 23rd of January 2023

What is considered easy run, long run, cross training and speed training?

Caroline Geoghegan

Wednesday 25th of January 2023

Hi Jennifer. I have added a quick explanation for each in the guide - hopefully this helps!

Joe

Wednesday 19th of January 2022

In simple words, I love your approach for a 30 day strength training plan for runners...ecellent.

Andi Ripley

Tuesday 2nd of March 2021

What an excellent resource! Strength is so under appreciated for injury prevention and performance for runners. Thanks for putting this together!