Strength training, in particular, can be invaluable to a runner’s routine, and it makes nearly every other physical activity that much easier too. Whether it is yoga, walking or a daily jog, you definitely need strength training after the initial few days to get a bigger workload for your muscles. When your muscles are given more and more work to do over time, it makes them that much more stronger, ready to spring into action, and more flexible as well. However, whenever the topic of strength training comes up, runners tend to respond with, ” I gotta do that too now?” But a steady balance of running combined with strength training will help in injury prevention and it will also make you a stronger and more efficient runner.

That being said, runners need a different strength training program than a regular gym bum. For runners, the focus will be targetting the key muscles and keeping them balanced. Here are 7 strength workouts that runners need to fit into their schedule:

Side Planks

Start from a push-up position by keeping your forearms on the ground and elbows in line with your shoulders. Hold this for a moment; now turn to one side, with your elbows still directly below the shoulders. Lift the hip so your body stays in a straight line. You can also extend the opposite arm towards the ceiling. Hold and then repeat the same with the other side. Do about 8-10 reps at the beginning.

What it does: The side plank strengthens the arms, abdomen and legs, improves your send of balance and tones your cores with a focus on your obliques.

Lower Body Russian Twist

It’s very simple and you don’t need any kind of weights to perform this drill. Begin by lying on your back and keeping your legs parallel to the floor and your knees bent at a right angle. Now lower your legs to the left while maintaining ground contact with your shoulders. Do not let your knees buckle or your torso come off the floor. Come back to the starting position after a few seconds, and repeat the motion on the right. Do 10-12 repetitions to start with.

What it does: The Russian Twist strengthens your core muscles, helping you take on any impact from running.

Scorpion Pushups

Positioning yourself as in a pushup, with your palms flat on the floor and feet shoulder wide. Raise your right leg towards your left shoulder and twist as you do so, picturing your leg as a stinger. Try to lift your leg to the left side as much as you can. Then change legs, and repeat the motion in the opposite direction. While the description is intimidating, a scorpion pushup is one of those things you get better at after many attempts. So don’t try to push yourself too hard; with enough time and conditioning, you will be flexible enough to get there soon. Do as many as you can do in the first 30 seconds.

What it does: The scorpion works on your shoulders and core muscles, further improving your mobility and flexibility while running.

Back Extensions

Lie facing downwards on a  stability ball with your feet wider than your hips, and elbows dipping down while your hands are just touching the ground for support. Now, bend your glutes and slowly lift your torso up until your body is straight. As you lift up, extend your hands, keeping your elbows bent. Raise your arms overhead for one or two seconds. When releasing, let your arms go first, and then bring your torso back down to the start position. Do a total of 10-12 reps.

What it does: Back extensions are perfect to work on your lower back, glutes, middle back, and shoulders muscles.

Supine Bicycle Crunches

Lie flat on your back and cross your arms over your head like you would for normal crunches. Now, bring your right knee and left elbow together until they touch, straightening out your left leg as you do so. Keep your left leg elevated off the floor at an angle above hip height. Continue working both legs like on a bicycle pedal with alternate elbows and shoulders. Do about 10-15 repetitions.

What it does: This routine strengthens the ab muscles and controls the rotation of the trunk.

Calf Raising Wide Squats

Stand with feet wider than shoulder distance apart and your arms out in front of you. You can choose to hold a bannister or window grill for support. Bend your knees and lower your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor while keeping your weight on the heels. Keep your chest up and shoulders back as you exhale and extend your legs back up to the starting position. Upon reaching the top, elevate your heels up as high as you can while contracting your calves. Balance on your toes for a moment and bring your heels back to the ground. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

What it does: This routine really works your quads and is great for ankle strengthening.

Hamstring push-up

Lie on your back with your feet on a chair that’s braced against a wall. Lift your butt. Then lift one leg off the chair. Lower yourself slowly back down to the floor, using the strength of the hamstrings of the leg remaining on the chair. Do 10 sets with each leg.

What it does:  Strengthens your hamstrings and also works on your glutes.

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