Weight training is probably the single most important non-running exercise that you can do to improve your running. Additionally, gaining muscle actual means that your body will burn more calories at rest. If you were to add 1kg of muscle, your body would burn around an extra 100 calories a day – more muscle means less fat.
Here we run through the most important five exercises, youcan do them all at home, with no gym equipment at all.
1. Bodyweight squats
This is an essential exercise to do. It strengthens your legs and also helps to build your core. It will improve running speed and posture as well as helping to prevent injury. Aim to do 10 reps, then rest for two minutes and repeat for three sets. Do this twice a week. Once you have mastered this and your form is good you can look to add weight.
2. The plank
This is a classic exercise to strengthen the core, a strong core will allow you to maintain your form over a race, it will develop your ab muscles and give you a toned stomach. Try holding the pose for 30 seconds, then relax for a minute and try doing it again. Do it twice a week. Soon you’ll find that you can surpass a minute with ease.
3. Single leg deadlift
Now we’re getting serious. This exercise targets the glutes and the hamstring – both key muscles for running and both muscles that are often neglected. Start without weight and try 5 and each leg, rest 30 seconds and repeat. Do three sets in total. Stop if it’s hurting. The key thing is to keep you back straight.
Okay, this looks ridiculous, however, this exercise will help to strengthen your lower back which is really important – especially if you are doing the leg exercises listed above. A weak back could cause you some serious pain so you must strengthen it in line with your leg and glute muscles. Luckily this is very simple and this exercise will increase your back’s flexibility as an added bonus.
Hold the pose for a few seconds and then release. Pause for 5 seconds and then repeat. Start with 5 reps, rest for a minute and then repeat. Take this slowly as you don’t want to put too much strain on your lower back early on, two sets only at first and build up over time as you are confident to do so.
5. Push ups
It may seem strange to finish this guide off with an upper body exercise, but this is all about balance, having a weak upper body is likely to cause you problems with your running, it also allows you to carry more fat. The push up is an exercise which works, chest, arms, back, shoulders and abs so if you are just going to do one upper body exercise, do this. I don’t think we need a video to demonstrate how they are done, but start out with 3 sets of 10 and see how you get on.