Build Explosive Power and Speed with This Strength Routine for Runners

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A Strength Routine for RunnersHearst Owned

With spring around the corner and the London Marathon chasing fast behind, it's a perfect time to organise your strength programme to support your running training.

It may seem counterintuitive to lift weights in order to run faster, but numerous studies have shown the benefit of focusing on strength training to support your running performance. Strength work can help you prevent injury, run faster and improve your running economy. Coach Harvey Lawton of The Movement Blueprint brings you a strength workout for runners that you can include in your weekly programme to take your performance up a gear.

The workout contains all the key components necessary to benefit your running time and keep a niggle free spring in your step. It focusses on:

  • Explosive Movements: 'Power development is key for speed endurance and resilience,' says Lawton

  • Unilateral Training: 'These build strength and stability, and have great transfer to the demands of running,' he adds

  • The Posterior Chain: 'The propulsion mechanism of running,' Lawton says.

Time to race down the gym.

The Workout

Priming Movements

2-4 sets dependent on run volume

Tall Kneeling Med Ball Slam x 4-6 Reps

Bring the medicine ball above your head with both hands, stretching through the body. With full force, throw the ball onto the floor, just in front of your body. Use your core to increase the power created when throwing the ball and pick it up to repeat.

Lawton recommends: 'This easy-to-execute movement will effectively ramp your nervous system and prep you for your training session ahead.'

Alternating Single Arm Kettlebell Swing x 8-12 Reps

Begin with the kettlebell a foot distance in front of you and start the single-arm swing with a dead stop swing. Send your hips behind your heels and keep your head in line as you reach forward to the kettlebell handle with one hand. Your chest should be slightly higher than your hips. Pull the kettlebell between your legs and snap the hips forward so the weight travels up to eye line. Reverse the movement so the weight travels back between your legs and you snap the hips once again. At the end of the set, reverse the dead stop swing so the weight is on the floor on front of you again.

Lawton recommends: 'This movement fuses power development with thoracic mobility - all key components to build running efficiency.'

Big Patterns

'These are your main session lifts - you should be focussing on quality working sets with low total volume' says Lawton 'for example; 4-6 reps for 2-3 working sets, rest 2 mins in between.'

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Barbell RDL x 4-6 reps

Start by deadlifting the barbell up to standing upright with your shoulder blades 'in your back pocket'. Send the hips behind your heels while keeping the shins vertical and your head in line. For more of a glute focus keep the weight in your heels and lock the knees in place over your feet.

Lawton recommends: 'Maintain connection through your trunk by pinning your ribcage down, squeezing your glutes and tucking your pelvis under.'

barbell lunge
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Loaded Reverse Lunge x 4-6 Reps Both Sides

With the barbell on the meaty part of your traps behind your head, unrack the barbell and stand with an open chest and your feet under your hips. Step one foot back into a long lunge position while keeping the feet still in line with your hips – think 'train track' instead of 'tightrope'. The back knee should be just above the floor and the quad and shin should be parallel to the floor. Push through the front heel back to standing and repeat.

Lawton recommends: 'Choose any loading position that suits you best (barbell / dumbbells / kettlebells).'

Tall Kneeling Overhead Barbell Press x 4-6 Reps Both Sides

Begin kneeling with the barbell in the front rack position. Keep your core engaged and drive the bar into the overhead position. Squeeze the traps at the top of the movement. On the downward portion, keep the weight under control and bring it down slowly ready to repeat.

Lawton recommends: 'This movement will train strength through your upper body and core, as well as stability through the shorter level length set-up (between knee and shoulder).'

Secondary Movements

2-4 sets dependent on run volume

Half Kneeling Cable Row x 8-12 Reps

Take one knee up and one knee down and reach forward to the cable attachment with the opposite hand to the knee that is up. Stretch forward and slightly twist your torso towards the upright knee as your shoulder blade slides forward across the ribcage. Initiate the row by pull the shoulder blade back and down and row the cable in to your waist ready to repeat.

Lawton recommends: 'This rowing position will train your hip mobility, build core strength and, most of all, improve the connection between your upper and lower body.'

Alternating Single Dumbbell Deadlift x 8-12 Reps

Stand with your feet either side of the dumbbell. Send your hips behind your heels with your core locked and head in line, creating the hip hinge movement pattern. Deadlift the dumbbell up by standing upright and extending your hips. Reverse the movement and place the dumbbell back on the floor, ready to reach down with the opposite hand.

Lawton recommends: 'Offset loading is a great way to train your core, as well as your ability to create tension in different positions.'

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