Strength Training For Runners – Build Your Own Gym At Home – Part 1

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strength training for runners

Strength training for runners – Build your own gym at home  – Part 1

Strength training can be beneficial to runners for strength gains, injury prevention and to run faster. However, with the amount of time we need to spend on the road, training in the gym may not always be practical. So what is the solution to this dilemma you may ask? The answer is simple, you can train at home. All that is required is that you have the right equipment, the will power, and a small amount of money to invest. Once you have this you can enjoy the benefits that come with cross training whether you are a beginner or advanced level in strength training. In this 2-part series we will look at equipment and exercises for both beginners in weight training to the advanced. Now rest assured that I haven’t chosen bulky bits of equipment that will clutter your home, as all the equipment is small and can be easily stored. In total I have chosen five pieces of equipment that you will need in your home to see an increase in performance. I have provided stores or websites where you can buy the equipment from, I have found the most cost effective products on the market. However, most importantly I have developed a running strength training specific programme to use with all five pieces of equipment to get you long lasting results. Here are the pieces of equipment I suggest for a beginners weight training programme.
exercise bands
Exercise bands Price £3.99 – £7.39 Exercise bands can be used for training the upper body muscles that are key to improving performance. Some of the key exercises are triceps kick backs, seated rows which will train your arms and the muscles between your shoulder blades, and internal and external rotation for shoulder stability. Priority star rating 4 out of 5 stars Alternatives:  There isn’t anything that you may have around the home that might provide an alternative for you to use which is why this is such a good piece of equipment to have in your arsenal. Available from: Buy here
Resistance tubes Price: £8.95-£13.99 Resistance tubes are great for upper body exercise and are very similar to exercise bands. They are more comfortable to exercise with due to the grips and are probably slightly easier to use. Priority: I will give this piece of equipment 3 out of 5 stars in terms of value. Alternatives: None This item is available from Buy here
Anchor Aerobic Step Price: £15.99 Aerobic steps are great for adding variety to your work out and can be used for upper body exercise as well as the lower body. Exercises that can be performed with a step are incline press ups with your feet on the bench, decline press ups with your hands on the bench, step up exercises with weights, triceps dips and many more. Priority: 1 out of 5 stars You could use things in your house to do these exercises, but it is useful to have. Alternatives: Use a chair, low table, swiss ball This item is available from Buy here
Swiss Ball Price range: £9.95 – £15.95 This is the most versatile piece of equipment you can have. It can be used by itself or in conjunction with other pieces of equipment for core stability, rehabilitation and building up strength. Exercises range from beginner to advance and arguably this may be the only piece of equipment you use. You can perform press ups on the swiss balls, ball roll outs, one legged squats, hamstring curls, rotations for the side of your abdominals and many more. Priority star rating: 5 out of 5 stars Alternatives: if you want to create an unstable surface you could use a football to perform the plank on, or any round object that could take your body weight. However, nothing else is as good as the swiss ball. Available from: Buy here
Medicine ball (4kg) Price £8.95 – £24.95 (depending on weight) Medicine balls our great for exercise and functional activity. Using weight machines in gyms which are fixed can restrict the movements you do and restrict your stabiliser muscles. Functional movements with a medicine ball allow your body to work in all 3 dimensions, which is what happens when you run. Medicine ball can be used to perform Russian twists, wood chops, partner exercise, sit ups and many more. Priority star rating: 2 out of 5 stars Alternatives: Large plant pots, small Hoover, fill a large five litre bottle of water with water (half full, ¾ full). Available from: Buy here

Exercise programme

1) Upright row (Exercise tube):

Benefits: This exercise requires a good amount of flexibility in the shoulders and will boost your upper body strength. This exercise will work the front of the shoulders, your biceps and upper back muscles. To perform this exercise, place the tube under both your feet. Pull until your elbows are as high as they can go, and make sure that your wrists remain below the elbows at all times. Sets, Repetitions and rest: 2 sets of 15 reps, with 45 seconds rest

2) Medicine ball squat to extension:

Benefits: Although this isn’t a running specific exercise it is important to understand that you need to adopt a whole-body approach to your programme. This exercise is great for the core, legs and arms and is great for overall conditioning. Stand with feet hip width apart, knees bent, and medicine ball in front of you on the floor. Pick up the medicine ball and extend your legs until you’re on the balls of your feet and the ball is above your head. Sets, Repetitions and rest: 2 sets of 15 reps, with 45 seconds rest

3) Hamstring curl:

Benefits: This exercise works your core, but also has the benefit of working your hamstring muscles, which are the second most important muscle after the glutes. Place your feet on the ball. Ensure that you are lieing down flat on your back. Raise your bum from the floor as high as you can and once your bum is raised bend your knees untill your feet move towards your bum. Sets, Repetitions and rest: Perform one repetition for 30 seconds at a time, for 2 sets with a 30 second rest.

4) Twist on swiss ball:

Benefits: This exercise is great for conditioning the oblique muscles, which are the muscles that twist your body. Lie with your upper back on the swiss ball. Part of your head should also be in contact with the ball as well. Place your hands together with your arms above the chest. Start to roll your body until the side of your shoulder and your arms are on the swiss ball. Your hands should now be facing towards the wall. Sets, Repetitions and rest: 2 sets of 15 reps, with 45 seconds rest

5) Tricep push downs:

Benefits: Works the back of the arms, which are important muscles to the swimming stroke because they create the final push just before your arms exit the water. Attach the exercise band under your feet and start with your elbows bent and your arms above the head. Straighten your arms until the elbows are fully extended, and make sure that you maintain your elbow position as you return your arms to the start. Sets, Repetitions and rest: 1 sets of 15 reps, with 45 seconds rest This programme should only take between 20-30 minutes; it will work the whole body and the muscles specific to running. It is best to do this programme 3 times a week but you decide how much time you can allocate to this programme because two times a week is better than none.


In the next edition we will be looking at a more advanced home gym and programme. The programme will be the same duration but the exercises will be more difficult using more advanced pieces of equipment.
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