5 Best Free Weights Exercises To Build Strength For Runners
One thing I would like you to take from what follows is that you don’t have to just do your core work on the floor.
When we think about increasing core strength, we think about lying on a mat doing plank exercises and crunches, but I can assure you weight training is even more effective.
To some people core work means strengthening your lower abdominals, and the rest of the body will be stable as a result but as stated earlier you can still develop muscle imbalances around your hips, knees and ankles that can lead to injuries.
Strength training can help improve muscle imbalances
Also, when you have muscle imbalances the body compensates in other areas of your body which could include your back, or shoulder.
So this means that to achieve true core stabilisation to prevent injuries and feel stronger we need to address the imbalances around the joints.
Thus, can be achieved by increasing the strength in the muscles that are weak and under used, stretch the muscles which are strong and short, and perform movements that are like the running movement pattern.
The key muscles to strengthen that can get weak from running are the hamstrings (back of the leg), gluteus maximus (buttocks) and the lower abdominals can help the lower back are the lower abdominals, transverse abdominals (deep abdominal muscle) and the gluteus maximus (buttocks).
Will I strengthen the core with these weight training exercises?
An exercise that activates the abdominal muscles, glutes and will super charge your legs is a back squat.
This exercise will teach your abdominal muscles, legs, and bum to work together in an integrated way like the way they need to during running.
A sit up exercise is an isolated movement pattern, whereas running is an integrated movement pattern.
The muscles of the body never work in isolation so when a muscle is trained in isolation it needs to be integrated at a later stage.
This is why gross motor movement patterns like squats are great for running.
Core training exercises can act as an injury prevention strategy, it can also increase power and most importantly it increases speed.
The muscle of key joints like the knee, pelvis hip and ankle need to be strengthened and stretched to prevent injuries like runners’ knee.
What about muscle imbalances and injury prevention?
When we run there is at least 3 and a half times your body weight going through your body, and during intense sessions this impact increases on your body.
Other things that could cause an injury are alignment issues like limb length discrepancies, which is when one leg is longer than the other; high arches, and pronation of the foot.
Many of these problems can be corrected with orthotics.
Strength training strengthens more then just the muscles.
During running repetitive stresses are placed on the structures of the body (muscles, ligaments), and providing these forces are low enough for the tendons to handle the body will recover, adapt and grow stronger.
The tendons are meant to stretch like an elastic band than rapidly shorten to release the stored energy caused by the force of the leg contacting the ground.
However, when the forces are to great the tendons fatigue, which causes them to degenerate and over a long period of time leads to injuries like Achilles tendinitis.
In order to withstand the forces the body is going through strength training will strengthen the muscles and the ligaments to with stand higher forces and keep you within the injury free zone.
are strong and short, which will pull the joint in one direction, and because the muscles around the hip are long and weak, they cannot stop the unwanted movement.
Also, strength training will help keep some of the key muscles used in running strong.
Here are some of the best weight training exercises for the core:
If you want to learn how to do these exercises through video scroll to the bottom:
This is one of the best exercises for the posterior chain. The posterior chain consists of the hamstrings (back of the legs), gluteus maximus (bum) and your lower back. These are the key muscles involved in running. Strengthening these key muscles will increase your running force and efficiency (see videos at the bottom of the page for a more detailed explanation).
2) The Bridge
Sometimes when you run some muscles in the posterior chain get stronger then others. In most cases this is the gluteus maximus. When this happens you need to isolate the gluteus maximus and strength train it seperately to the lower back and hamstrings. If you do not do this then the strength deficieit between the muscles remain the same. The bridge is one of the best exercises to isolate the gluteus maximus (see videos at the bottom of the page for a more detailed explanation).
3) Back Squat
This is a great exercise. It focuses on strengthening the quadrceps (front of the legs), hamstrings (back of the legs) and gluteus maximus (bum). If you are someone who is quadriceps dominant this is not the best exercise, but for most runners this is good. Quadriceps dominance means that you have tight hip flexors and you may be prone to lower back pain (see videos at the bottom of the page for a more detailed explanation).
4) Forward Lunge
This exercise is one of the best exercises for the glutes. When your body is so low to the floor the muscle that stops you from falling forward is the gluteus maximus. This is why this exercise is so good for the gluteus maximus (see videos at the bottom of the page for a more detailed explanation).
5) Hamstring Bridges
Obviously this is not a free weights exercise. However, I have included it because it is one of the best exercises for the hamstring. This exercise will isolate the hamstring and is my favorite exercise of all time for the hamstring. Try this exercise. You will love it! See videos at the bottom of the page for a more detailed explanation.