8 Resistance Exercises to Build Strength

To help prevent running injuries, do this simple 15-minute routine three times per week.

The World Health Organisation recommends that adults perform resistance exercises for each of the major muscle groups two or more times per week. It’s especially important for runners – a strong musculature can better absorb the impact stress of repetitive footstrikes – so we recommend doing 15-minute sessions like this one three times per week.

At the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST) in Greenville, South Carolina, US, we hear from runners who want to get faster, from those who simply want to enjoy the sport for life, and from those who’ve given up on running entirely. They’ve stopped because injuries have made it too frustrating or too painful to continue.

The two of us – both longtime runners – spend a lot of time discussing what we can do now to increase the likelihood that we’ll keep running well into old age. We want to be able to keep doing what we love to do – and that’s probably a goal of yours, too.

Based on our experiences as athletes, coaches, and exercise scientists, we developed the 7-Hour Workout Week, which is detailed in our new book Train Smart, Run Forever. The plan includes activities to enhance cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility. Many runners have confessed that they skip the resistance training, stretching, and cross-training we recommend, but these exercises are critical for staying healthy as you become fitter and faster.

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This workout was adapted from Runner’s World Train Smart, Run Forever: How to Become a Fit and Healthy Lifelong Runner by Following the Innovative 7-Hour Workout Week, by the Experts at FIRST, Bill Pierce and Scott Murr (Rodale).

Box Stepup

Photo: Matt Rainey

Place your left foot on a box that allows your thigh to be parallel to the ground. Push through your left heel and leg to stand, then step down with your right leg. Repeat 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Hip Extension Leg Curl with Exercise Ball

Photo: Matt Rainey

Lie on the floor with your heels atop the ball and your arms by your sides. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line. Pull the ball toward your butt, then roll it back. Repeat 30 times.

Bird Dog

Photo: Matt Rainey

From all fours, reach forward with your right arm and backward with your left leg so both are parallel to the floor. Hold three seconds, return to starting position, then switch sides. Do 15 reps on each side.

Single-Leg Wall Squat with Exercise Ball

Photo: Matt Rainey

Wedge the ball between your back and a wall. Step out and lower into a squat. Extend your right leg, push through your left leg to stand, then lower. Repeat 20 times, then switch sides.

Kickback with Resistance Band

Photo: Matt Rainey

While standing, loop a resistance band just above your ankles. Lift your right foot just off the ground and drive it behind you. Pause, then return to starting position. Do 15 reps, then switch sides.

Single-Leg Bridge/Pelvic Thrust

Photo: Matt Rainey

Lie on your back, feet under your knees. Straighten your left leg and push through your right heel to raise your butt. Pause, then slowly lower. Do 20 reps, then switch sides.

Dumbbell Clocker Shoulder Raise

Photo: Matt Rainey

Hold light dumbbells. Imagining that you’re at the center of a clock facing 12, raise your arms until they’re parallel to the ground at clock position 12, then lower. Repeat at 1 and 11, 2 and 10, and 3 and 9. Perform this sequence 4 more times.

Reverse Crunch with Exercise Ball

Photo: Matt Rainey

Roll over the ball so your hands are on the floor in front of it. Walk your hands out until they’re below your shoulders and your lower legs rest on the ball. Bend your knees and hips to pull the ball in, then roll it back. Repeat for 60 seconds.

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