Strength Training for Runners: Plan A

"A runner with strong legs but weak arm muscles and weak core muscles will always be slower than a runner with total-body fitness."

Workout A

This plan targets muscles the will help you decreased injury risk and increased performance while runner. You will see the results quickly, and it doesn't add much time to your workout (t takes less than 30 minutes, two days a week).

The Plan

Do Workout A at least twice a week, resting at least a day between each session. The workout includes five exercises. Perform the first three (1, 2, and 3) as a circuit: Do one set of each and move to the next without resting in between. When you've completed one circuit of the three exercises, rest for 60 seconds. Repeat one to two times, for a total of two to three circuits. Alternate between the final pair of exercises (4 and 5): Do one set of 4 followed by 30 seconds of rest, then one set of 5 followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat until you've done two to three sets. Use the heaviest weight that allows you to complete every repetition of every set. You shouldn't finish the last set feeling like you could have done five more repetitions.

1. Overhead Lunge

Hold a pair of dumbbells straight above your shoulders, your arms straight and elbows locked [1]. Step forward with your left leg and lower your body until your front knee is bent 90 degrees [2]. Return to the starting position, and repeat with your right leg. That's one repetition.

Modification: To make it easier, hold dumbbells at shoulder level.

Repetitions: six to eight (each leg)

Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, core

2. Mixed-Grip Chinup

Grab the chinup bar overhand with your left hand, and underhand with your right, and hang with your arms completely straight [1]. Pull yourself as high as you can without allowing your body to rotate [2]. Alternate grips each set.

Modification: To make it easier, place a bench underneath the bar. Jump up to the top position, then lower yourself slowly.

Repetitions: six to eight

Muscles worked: back, biceps, core

3. Scorpion

Get into pushup position, but with your feet on a bench [1]. Raise your right knee toward your left shoulder as you rotate your hips up and to the left as far as you can [2]. Then reverse directions, rotating your hips up and to the right, and try to touch your right foot to the back of your left shoulder (you won't be able to do it) [3]. That's one repetition. Continue for 30 seconds with your right leg, then switch legs.

Modifications: To make it easier, do step one of the exercise, twisting in just one direction. To make it harder, instead of putting your feet on a bench, do the exercise with your shins on a stability ball.

Repetitions: As many as you can in 30 seconds

Muscles worked: shoulders, core

4. Stability Ball Jackknife

Get into pushup position, but instead of placing your feet on the floor, rest your shins on a stability ball [1]. Pull the stability ball toward your chest by raising your hips and rounding your back as you roll the ball forward with your feet [2].

Modification: To make it easier, pull your knees as close as you can to your chest, without lifting your hips into the air, and return to the starting position.

Repetitions: 10 to 12

Muscles worked: shoulders, core

5. Back Extension with Lower Trap Raise

Grab a pair of dumbbells and position yourself in the back-extension station, hooking your feet under the leg anchors. Lower your upper body until it's just short of being perpendicular to the floor--allow your back to round--and let your arms hang straight down from your shoulders, your palms facing each other [1]. Without moving your arms, raise your upper body until it's in line with your hips [2]. Holding that position, raise your arms at a 45-degree angle to your body (so that they form a "Y") until they're in line with your torso [3]. Lower your arms slowly, then repeat the entire move.

Modifications: To make it easier, do the back extension without the arm lift. To make it harder, place one leg under the leg anchors and the other on top.

Repetitions: 10 to 12

Muscles worked: lower back, glutes, middle back, shoulders

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