Strength training workouts for runners: 6 of the best routines

  • Post last modified:July 10, 2020
  • Post comments:1 Comment
  • Reading time:6 mins read
  • Post author:


There’s no doubt that strength training workouts for runners should be an integral part of any training plan if you’re looking to run stronger and faster.

Many studies have proven the positive effects of strength training for runners.

If you’re new to strength training, then I suggest you read my complete guide on strength training for runners as this gives you the lowdown on why strength training is so important.

I know for a lot of runners, especially when you start out, it can be tempting just to forget about any exercise that isn’t running. 

Whilst this is fine to begin with, if you’re really serious about becoming a stronger and faster runner you need to be including ancillary work like strength training in your training plan.

In this post I’d like to cover some essential workouts when it comes to strength training for runners.

These workouts not only help you build stronger muscles, connective tissues and joints, they are also really fun to do as they provide variety in any training routine.

They also help you to improve your form and economy as a runner too which is a great bonus.

Here are my top 6 strength training workouts for runners to help you become stronger and faster.

strength training workouts for runners

Strength training workouts for runners: The bodyweight workout

Bodyweight exercises can be used as an effective baseline for strength training from which you build and grow. Many runners start with bodyweight exercises before graduating to weight training. 

Here is a bodyweight workout routine for you to try from the comfort of your own home if you wish. Alternatively, head outdoors and complete after a run. 

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

  1. Air squat
  2. Backwards lunge
  3. Single-leg glute bridge
  4. Mountain climbers 
  5. Kneel to stands
  6. Plank (hold for 30-45 seconds)
  7. Russian twist
  8. V-sits
  9. Superman pull

Strength training workouts for runners: The dumbbell workout

Dumbbells are my favourite piece of gym equipment. They can be used in so many ways to spice up a workout. Even better, they’re relatively inexpensive and can be found in most high street sports stores nowadays. 

If you’re in the market for some new gym equipment, check out my post on the best home gym equipment for runners where I talk about some of my favourite pieces of equipment, including dumbbells. 

I often use dumbbells in my training and here I’d like to share some of my favourite exercises.

In terms of the weight of the dumbbells, this is completely up to you in terms of what you feel comfortable with and the type of exercise you are doing. 

If you’re new to weight training, then I suggest between 3-6kg for each dumbbell. If you’re used to working out with dumbbells, then anything between 4-12kg per dumbbell is good. 

Complete 3 sets of 8-10 reps of each exercise, with 1-2 minute rest in between each set. You may also want to take a 30 second break in between each round of exercises.

The video below shows me completing all but one of the exercises.

  1. Squat to overhead press
  2. Single-leg deadlift 
  3. Goblet squat
  4. Side squats
  5. Bent over row
  6. Weighted forward lunge (not shown in video)
strength training workouts for runners

Strength training workouts for runners: The medicine ball workout

Similar to dumbbells, medicine balls are a great way to add more resistance into a workout. They can be used in a number of ways to improve coordination, core strength and flexibility. 

In terms of weight I suggest you opt for a ball that is between 2-5kg in weight. How you use a medicine ball will differ from how you use dumbbells, so don’t be tempted to use like for like weights. 

Complete 3 sets of 10-12 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set. 

  1. Overhead slams
  2. Overhead forward lunge
  3. Russian twists
  4. Jump and pick up
  5. V-ups

Strength training workouts for runners: The power plyo workout

Plyometrics are great to build explosive power and speed. They can be physically draining, so it’s best to avoid doing these on the same day as a long run. 

These types of exercises are so beneficial for runners because they help to build fast-twitch muscle fibres in your body and help extend your lactate threshold. 

As runners, we often rely too much on our slow twitch muscle fibres to help us on those long runs and we often don’t challenge our lactate threshold unless you regularly do activities like sprinting, jumping and hill running.

Plyometric exercises can benefit any runner looking to become stronger, faster and more agile. They are also great to torch calories and help with weight loss.

  1. Jump squats
  2. Power skips
  3. Jump lunges
  4. Box jumps (use a bench if outdoors)
  5. Skater jumps
  6. Frog jumps (also known as long jumps)
strength training workouts for runners

Strength training workouts for runners: The resistance band workout

I love resistance bands as they’re so versatile and can be used in a number of different ways. When used for strength training, they offer a low impact alternative to weight training.

If you’re new to resistance bands, check out my post on resistance band exercises for runners. In this post I explain the benefits of resistance bands and also offer up a few exercises that you can try. 

Complete 3 sets of 10-12 reps of each exercise, with 1 minute rest in between each set.

  1. Side-lying leg lift
  2. Side steps
  3. Clams
  4. Banded donkey kickbacks
  5. Banded standing glute kickbacks
  6. Hip flexor marches
  7. Standing hip abduction and adduction

Strength training workouts for runners: The HIIT workout

If you’re new to HIIT, it stands for high intensity interval training and it does what it says on the tin!

It is essentially high intensity workouts or exercises performed within rapid succession of one another with little or no rest in between each exercise until you’re too exhausted to continue.

I suggest you check out my guide on HIIT workouts for runners for more info.

HIIT can use a mixture of bodyweight exercises, weighted exercises and plyometric exercises. It all depends on the type of exercise you’re doing, your comfort levels and the aim of the session – there are low impact variations of HIIT sessions too.

Complete the following exercises using the 2:1 ratio with 60 seconds work and 30 seconds rest in between each exercise.

This is a real killer so be sure to have your water bottle ready!

  1. Jump squats
  2. Mountain climbers
  3. Jump lunges
  4. Squat thrusts
  5. Jumping jacks
  6. Bicycle crunch
  7. Plank


Caroline Geoghegan

Caroline Geoghegan (aka Run With Caroline) helps people become faster and stronger runners. She started her blog in 2018 to share her passion for running. Caroline is a UK Athletics qualified Run Leader and Run Coach and NASM qualified Personal Trainer.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Spencer

    Hi just seeing this in my news feed. It’s exactly what I needed with regards to strength training and taking my running to the next level. Excited to start utilizing them!

Leave a Reply