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Running can be an amazing way to support your mind, body, overall health, and even community. But like any exercise, running also has a cost. Like other aerobic activities, it’s catabolic, meaning it demands more oxygen and breaks down your muscles. Lots of catabolic exercise over time decreases muscle mass, lowers your metabolic rate, and can even lead to injury.
If you’re looking to decrease your injury risk, increase your stamina and speed, and even boost your metabolism, don’t quit! Instead, add to your fitness. The straightforward solution is strength-based cross-training exercises for runners.
If you have access to a gym, check out our strength cross-training: gym edition. But if you don’t have access to a gym, that’s still no problem. Follow along as we share a version of the top lower-body and core-strengthening exercises that you can do anywhere — no special equipment necessary.
The gluteus maximus is your major running power generator, as well as your low back and knee protector. Strengthen it by selecting from these exercises:
Hamstrings are the assistants for your gluteus maximus. They are essential for running speed. Strengthen them by selecting one of the following exercises:
Taking the stress off your knees for the repetition involved in running requires strong quads. Select from the following exercises:
Your low back is the link between your core and legs. Strength and efficiency here increase speed, power, and stability. Try one of the following exercises:
Your obliques and gluteus medius connect the front and back sides of your core. You can actually target both of them in a single do-anywhere exercise:
The Side Hip Bridge (aka Side Plank on Knees)
When you do this exercise, aim for hold time instead of reps. Start with 10 seconds, and gradually work up to 90 seconds over several weeks or months.
Now that you’ve got the top cross-training exercises for runners on your radar, you need a program!
Repeat the process, selecting different exercises. Changing your cross training exercises each month keeps you getting stronger, while minimizing wear and tear on your joints, ligaments and tendons.
Your turn! Take five minutes to build your program so it’s ready for your cross-training days. Then, save this post so you know how to build your cross-training program each month. Even better, share this post with a runner friend; you can even help each other design programs to enhance your muscle strength.