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5 resistance band workouts for runners

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There are hundreds of resistance band workouts for runners out there to add into your training routine.

Even better, you can choose to do them from the comfort of your own home or at the gym.

But how exactly do you use resistance bands? And how are they beneficial compared to free weights like dumbbells?

In this guide we’ll explore:

  • What are resistance bands?
  • How effective are resistance band workouts for runners?
  • How often can you do resistance band workouts?
  • Tips for using resistance bands
  • 5 resistance band exercises for runners

Ready?

Let’s get started!

resistance band workouts for runners

What are resistance bands?

Resistance bands, despite their name, are actually very simple pieces of equipment.

The bands are rubbery in texture and come in different sizes, lengths and strengths. Some are straight, flat, tubular, and some come with handles attached.

The band is used to create resistance in order to work the muscle. While you’re using them, the band forces the muscle to contract which will increase muscular and bone strength.

Resistance bands are great tools to target the glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors – the leg muscles that runners use most.

Related: 7 resistance band exercises for runners

How effective are resistance band workouts for runners?

Resistance bands are one of the best tools you can use to keep strength training when you no longer have access to a gym or just don’t want to go there for personal reasons.

According to a 2019 study, elastic resistance training is able to promote similar strength gains to conventional resistance training.

They can target the major muscles you use while running, mainly your core, glutes and legs.

They are also really affordable and simple to use. You can use them almost anywhere!

The benefits of using resistance bands are numerous. Here are just some of the reasons why you should use resistance bands in your workout:

  1. They improve the quality of your exercises.
  2. They recruit stabilising muscles.
  3. They are a great alternative to gym equipment and machines.
  4. They’re compact and lightweight.
  5. They’re cost effective.
  6. They’re designed for compound exercises.
  7. They’re great for rehab and injury recovery.

Related: 9 bodyweight exercises for runners

resistance band workouts for runners

How often can you do resistance band workouts?

As with any form of strength training, the key is to be consistent.

Typically, doing 2-3 strength training sessions each week using resistance bands will be enough to see improved strength, health and body composition changes.

If you’re new to using resistance bands, then start by doing two sessions per week.

Each session doesn’t need to be more than 30 minutes in length.

Whilst you can work out with resistance bands every day, the reality is you will see no additional benefits by doing so.

Related: 30 day strength training plan for runners

Tips for using resistance bands

Now you know more about resistance bands and how they are beneficial for runners, here are some tips on using them:

#1 Control the movement

Whilst resistance bands are simple to use, it is important you control each movement to get the most out of the exercise and to ensure proper form and posture.

Aim to minimise muscle contraction and keep the tension on the band.

#2 Use the right resistance level

There are many types of resistance levels when it comes to resistance bands, so it’s important you use the right resistance level for the right exercise.

For example, using an extra heavy band around the legs above the ankles will minimise range of movement and can cause too much stress in the hip area.

In this instance, a lighter band would be more beneficial because it allows for range of movement and still creates enough resistance to fully contract the muscle.

#3 Practice resistance band safety

When you have a band under tension, be careful when releasing the band to avoid it snapping back.

Begin all exercises slowly to ensure band strength, and be sure to inspect bands before every use to check for any cuts, punctures and tears.

Any flaws could mean the band has been weakened in that area so should not be used.

resistance band workouts for runners

5 resistance band exercises for runners

#1 Side steps

Side steps are good for strengthening and stabilising your hip flexors and are one of my favourite resistance band workouts for runners.

As a runner, your hips take some serious impact, especially on those long runs. If you regularly experience stiff or painful hips, side steps are a great exercise to try.

  1. Loop the resistance band around your ankles and bend your knees slightly.
  2. Take side steps left then right again.
  3. Make sure you keep the tension in the band and don’t let your feet come together.
  4. Repeat this movement 12 to 16 times. You will slowly get stronger as you add more resistance to the exercise.

The thicker the resistance band, the harder it will feel. If you’re a beginner, start with a thinner resistance band.

#2 Monster steps

Don’t let the name of this workout worry you – they’re not as bad as they sound! Monster steps are another great exercise for glute activation.

  1. Loop the band around your ankles, bend your knees slightly and sink into a squat – your feet should be hip-width apart.
  2. Take big steps (hence the ‘monster’ name), making sure that your feet are as wide as possible.
  3. Take 10-15 steps forward then step back to where you started. You’ll soon feel the burn after a few sets of these!

#3 Standing hip abduction

This one is good as it really targets and strengthens the hip muscles. You’ll need a thin resistance band for this exercise.

  1. Loop the band around a sturdy object and the other round your right ankle, then stand tall with the left foot on the tubing, while holding the opposite handle.
  2. Next, while keeping the right knee straight and engaging the core, kick your right leg outward, hold for a moment, then slowly return to the starting position.
  3. Don’t be tempted to rotate your hips. Instead, keep your focus on using your hip muscles.
  4. Repeat 10 times then change to the opposite leg.

#4 Clams

Clams are my favourite resistance band workouts for runners. I regularly do two or three sets of clams before a workout in the gym as they are so effective at priming the glutes for exercise.

They are also a great exercise to target the outer thighs, groin and hip flexors.

There has to be quite a bit of resistance in the band for this exercise to make it effective, so you’ll need a thicker band.

  1. Lie on the floor, turn on your side and loop the band around your lower thighs.
  2. Slowly open up your legs in a clam motion then close them back again.
  3. Repeat 10-20 times depending on how hard you want to go. I like to mix it up with hip bridges in between.

#5 Kickbacks

Kickbacks are so simple and effective and are great for targeting the back of your thighs and bum.

  1. Loop the band just above your ankle and face a sturdy object, like a chair or wall.
  2. Slightly bend your knee and lift your left foot off the ground, driving the heel back in a kickback motion.
  3. Hold for a moment at the top of the movement, then lower down and repeat on the same side.
  4. Don’t be tempted to rock forward – engage your core muscles as you lift.

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