Strength exercises for runners - Women's Running

Strength exercises for runners

Author: Anne-Marie Lategan

Read Time:   |  October 23, 2017

Love it or hate it, strength work is an essential part of any runner’s training plan. Building strength in key muscles employed when running, strengthening will help you to become a faster, stronger runner, while helping you to prevent injury. And it just so happens that, by building strengths in these areas, you’ll also get some killer curves, a flat stomach and a seriously toned upper body! Who said strength work was so bad?

Get to work on these five strengthening exercises, aiming to do two to three sets of 15 repetitions for each one.

Lunge with a straight-leg glute lift

Image 1

Muscles targeted: Thighs, bottom, hip flexors, core (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, PSOAS muscles, transversus abodominis)

Why do it? Builds strength in your legs and glutes and helps prevent a saggy bottom!


  1. Stand with one leg in front of the other.
  2. Bend both knees to perform a lunge.
  3. Push back up to the standing position using your front leg.
  4. Simultaneously lift your back leg off the floor, keeping your leg straight.
  5. Place your back foot on the floor and return to the lunge.
  6. Complete one set before changing sides.

Watch points: Keep your back straight and focus on one point in front of you to help keep your balance.

Resistance band side raises

Image 2 Resistance band side raises

Muscles targeted: Shoulders (deltoids)

Why do it? Strong shoulders will help to improve your posture and your arm swing while running.


  1. Stand with one foot on the end of a resistance band and hold the other end in your opposite hand, next to your side.
  2. Ensure that you have enough resistance on the band.
  3. Keep a slight bend in your elbow.
  4. Lift your arm sideways until it’s level with your shoulders.
  5. Slowly lower with control.
  6. Complete one set before changing sides.

Watch points: Keep the action smooth and controlled.

Resistance band tricep extension

    Image 3 Resistance band tricep extension 

Muscles targeted: Rear upper arm (triceps)

Why do it? Ditch the bingo wings.


  1. Hold a resistance band in your right hand.
  2. Keep your right hand on your shoulder blade with your elbow pointing up to the ceiling.
  3. Grab the other end of the resistance band with your left hand behind your back.
  4. Ensure that there’s enough resistance on the band.
  5. Straighten your right arm up to the ceiling.
  6. Slowly bend your right arm, maintaining resistance on the band.

Watch points: Don’t lock your elbow out when fully extended.

Stability ball back extension

    Image 4 Stability ball back extension

Muscles targeted: Back muscles (erector spinae)

Why do it? Weak back muscles can cause unnecessary pain in your lower back. This is a great exercise to combat back pain.


  1. Lie with your stomach on a stability ball.
  2. Place your feet against a wall or secure object.
  3. Cross your arms in front of you and place your hands on your shoulders.
  4. Lift your head and shoulders up until you form a straight line between your shoulders, hips and knees.
  5. Slowly lower with control.

Watch points: Don’t hyperextend (overarch) your lower back.

Stability ball press-ups

Image 5 Stability Ball Press Ups

Muscles targeted: Chest, arms, core muscles (pectorals, triceps, transversus abodominis, erector spinae)

Why do it? A great exercise to improve your upper-body strength, boost your core stability and tone up your tummy!


  1. Lie with your chest on a stability ball.
  2. Place your hands on the ball, next to your chest, with your fingers facing down.
  3. Keep your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  4. Straighten your arms and lift your chest and hips off the ball.
  5. Slowly lower with control.

Watch points: If the ball wobbles a lot, place it against a wall to give you more stability.

Anne-Marie Lategan

Fitness Editor, Women's Running and Fitness and Nutrition Coach for England Golf

Meet the team

We use cookies to give you a better experience on By continuing to use our site, you are agreeing to the use of cookies as set in our Cookie Policy.

OK, got it