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Body weight workout to improve performance for runners

Angelica Avolio - Personal Trainer & Nutritionist

Running is a very common fitness activity, with many people who practice it either to keep healthy or as a conditioning training for other activities. But whether you perform it at an amatorial or professional level, in order to improve your running performance you need to do a bit more than just go out for runs. 

If you are looking for a way to improve your running abilities, but don’t know where to start, then below you can find a great bodyweight workout example to get started. 

Body weight conditioning workout for runners

Improving your running capacity requires programming as well as dedicated conditioning exercises to maximize cadence and power exertion. Conditioning programs for runners should in fact include specific exercises and training techniques aimed at improving power and endurance, so to facilitate long bouts of effort even at higher intensity, such as when running uphill. 

Below you can find a conditioning workout you can do 1-2 times a week to increase stamina and boost your running performance.

Body weight workout for runners

Squats

Technique

  1. Stand from an upright position, with your feet placed hip-width apart
  2. Keeping your chest open and your core engaged, hinge the hips back and then bend your knees to squat down (aim for your quads to get at least parallel to the floor for good depth)
  3. From this position, use your glutes and legs to move back to the starting position. This is one repetition

Reps and Sets

Perform at 12-15 reps and 3-4 sets

Walking lunges 

Technique

  1. Start from an upright position
  2. Keeping your chest open and your core engaged, move one leg forward
  3. Holding your core engaged, bend the knee of the front leg to lunge down
  4. Lift yourself up by pushing through the front leg, whilst moving the back leg next to it to get onto a standing position. This is one repetition
  5. Repeat on the other leg

Reps and Sets

Perform 15-20 reps on each leg, for 2-3 sets

Single leg squat

Technique

  1. Stand upright on one leg, leaving some flexibility on the knee 
  2. Extend the other leg in front of you so to prevent it from touching the floor
  3. Making sure to balance your weight on your foot, move the hips back and bend your knee to squat down. Meanwhile, ensure to brace your core for extra stability
  4. Once you reached the maximum depth of your squat, push through the foot to move back up into the starting position. This is one repetition

Reps and Sets

Perform 6-8 reps on each leg, for 3-4 sets. Increase the number of reps in each set as you get stronger. 

Plyometric squat thrust

Technique

  1. Place yourself in an extended plank position
  2. Jump with your feet forward, towards your hands
  3. As your feet reach the floor at hands-height, move up in a squat position by lifting your hands off the floor. This is one repetition

Reps and Sets

Perform 12-15 reps for 3-4 sets. 

Alternated Jump Lunges

Technique

  1. Start by standing up in an upright position
  2. Jump up whilst moving one leg forward and one back, so to obtain a wider stance once you land
  3. Upon landing, bend the knee of your front leg to lunge down, holding your core tight and your chest open. Use the back leg as support 
  4. From the lunging position, jump back up through both feet to switch your legs’ position
  5. Once landed, bend the knee of the front leg to lunge back down. This is one repetition.

Ideally, this exercise should be done dynamically in order to generate more power and stamina. However, you can start by performing it slowly and increase speed as you improve coordination and strength.

Reps and Sets 

Perform 8-12 reps on each leg, for 3-4 sets. Increase the number of reps in each set as you get stronger.

Single Leg Deadlift

Technique

  1. Start by standing upright on one leg, keeping some flexibility in your knee
  2. Slowly bend forward from the hips, whilst moving the other leg back at the same time, until both your chest and your back leg are parallel to the floor
  3. Slowly move back to the original position, making sure to have full control over the movement. This is one repetition. 

Reps and Sets 

Perform 6-8 reps on each leg, for 3-4 sets. Increase the number of reps in each set as you get stronger.

Wrapping up

Running is a great way to stay healthy and develop endurance, but if you want to improve your performance in this sport, then you need to make sure to include some dynamic conditioning exercises. Ideally, perform this dynamic bodyweight workout 1-2 times a week to boost your strength and power.

References

Ferrauti, A., Bergermann, M. and Fernandez-Fernandez, J., 2010. Effects of a concurrent strength and endurance training on running performance and running economy in recreational marathon runners. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(10), pp.2770-2778.

Ramírez-Campillo, Rodrigo, Cristian Álvarez, Carlos Henríquez-Olguín, Eduardo B. Baez, Cristian Martínez, David C. Andrade, and Mikel Izquierdo. “Effects of plyometric training on endurance and explosive strength performance in competitive middle-and long-distance runners.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 28, no. 1 (2014): 97-104.

Saunders, P.U., Telford, R.D., Pyne, D.B., Peltola, E.M., Cunningham, R.B., Gore, C.J. and Hawley, J.A., 2006. Short-term plyometric training improves running economy in highly trained middle and long distance runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 20(4), p.947.

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