The strength training test every runner should be doing

·3-min read

Runners often have weaknesses or muscular imbalances that can result in inefficient running form and/or injury. This test, masterminded by Kriss Hendy at Strength for Endurance (strengthforendurance.com), will help you to identify the areas that need the most work. ‘We use these tests as a way of “screening” all our new and current clients,’ he says. ‘For optimal health and performance, with a reduced likelihood of injury, everyone should aim to hit the SFE standard below.’

1. Push-up

Why it’s important: A basic upper-body strength exercise that develops our shoulders, back, chest and core – all essential for maintaining strong posture and running form.

How to do it: 1) Get into a high plank position, hands directly below shoulders; 2) lower your body in a straight line, touching the floor with your chest; 3) push back up to the starting position. Men should do full push-ups; women can do knee push-ups. Perform one set to failure.

Score: Needs work: <10 reps; SFE Standard: 20-30 reps; Advanced: 30+reps

2. Single-leg squat

Why it’s important: A true test of balance, co-ordination and the strength of our left vs right leg.

How to do it: 1) Stand with a chair at knee height behind you; 2) Squat down on one leg until your bum lightly touches the chair seat; 3) Push back up to full extension. Perform one set to failure on each leg.

Score: Needs work: <10 reps each side; SFE Standard: 15-20 reps each side; Advanced: 20+ reps each side

3. Single-leg hamstring bridge

Why it’s important: Adequate strength in the hamstrings strengthens and stabilises both the lower back and knee.

How to do it: 1) Lie on your back with the heels of both feet on a chair in front of you; 2) Lift your left leg and drive your right heel into the chair, finding full extension in your hip with each repetition; 3) Slowly return to starting position, ensuring your hips touch the ground every time. Perform one set to failure on each leg.

Score: Needs work: <10 each side; SFE Standard: 15-20 each side; Advanced: 25+ each side

4. Single-leg calf raise

What it’s testing: The ability to absorb force through the calf and Achilles musculature is essential.

How to do it: 1) Stand in a doorway, feet hip with apart; 2) take your left foot off the ground and drive up onto the toes of your right foot, using your hands for support and stability; 3) Return to starting position. Try to maintain the same height, tempo and quality of technique per repetition. As soon as you start to falter, finish. Then swap legs.

Score: Needs work: <10 each side; SFE Standard: 15-20 each side; Advanced: 25+ each side

5. Plank hold

What it’s testing: A great reflection of your relative strength-to-weight ratio but also your mental resilience and capacity to work.

How to do it: 1) Get into a plank position, resting on your forearms and toes, hands flat on the floor; 2) Hold this position, focusing on pushing toes into the floor and squeezing your glutes to stabilise your body. As soon as your drop a knee or rest, write down your score.

Score: Needs work: <1 min; SFE Standard: 2-3 mins; Advanced: 3-5min

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