A simple strength and conditioning workout for new runners

5 simple moves to help strengthen your body as you increase your running.


When you start running, your body is being asked to do more work than it’s used to and that’s not just your heart and lungs. The large and small muscles in your legs and core will be getting a great new workout and to keep them feeling strong and ready to run, it’s important to focus some time on conditioning them. Spend 15 minutes on these moves, twice a week, to reduce the chances of injury and build a stronger, fitter running body.

1 Squat

Why: Builds hip and thigh strength and improves ankle flexibility

How: Stand with feet a little wider than hips, feet pointing slightly outward and hands clasped at the front of your chest (holding a light weight if you wish). Initiate the squat by flexing at the hips as if to sit down on something.

How many: 2 sets of 10-15 repetitions (reps)

2 Glute Bridge

Why: Strengthens glutes and hamstrings

How: Lie on your back with knees bent to around 45 degrees, feet on the floor and arms across your chest or on the floor. Raise your pelvis without arching your back, hold for 5 seconds, then lower and repeat. If the exercise feels very easy with two feet on the ground, progress to single-leg bridges: from the lifted pelvis position, alternately lift each foot a few inches, keeping the knee bent. Make sure you are able to keep the pelvis level and stable as you do this. Switch legs between sets.

How many: 2 set of 8-12 holds or alternate reps

3 Forward Lunge

Why: Improves quad strength, balance and pelvic stability

How: Standing tall with feet hip-distance apart, step forward into a lunge, bending the front knee and taking the back knee towards the ground. Keep the torso aligned over hips. Pause, then drive back up through the front foot to standing. Now lunge on the other leg. Don’t lunge so far that your knee ends up ahead of your foot. Imagine there is a white line running from the midline of your body and on to the floor, and ensure that you step either side of the line rather than across it.

How many: 2 sets of 10-12 reps per leg

4 Calf Raise

Why: Strengthens the calf muscles and ankles

How: Stand tall with the front half of your feet on a step or stair, the heels floating and knees straight. Rise up on to the balls of the feet, pause, then lower as far as you can (so that your heels travel below the level of the step). That’s one rep. Continue to complete the set. Now repeat the same exercise but this time, have the knees slightly bent throughout. If this exercise feels too easy, you can perform it with one leg at a time.

How many: 3 sets of 15 reps straight/bent knee on both legs; or 2 sets of 15 reps straight/bent knee per single leg

5 Toe touchdown

Why: Improves core stability (maintaining neutral spine)

How: With your spine in a neutral position, draw both knees up so that your hips and knees are bent to 90 degrees, arms folded across chest. Draw in the tummy button, lightly tensing the lower abdomen. Lower one foot to tap the ground and touch your toes to the floor, maintaining your spinal curves and using the abdominals to control the leg’s descent (the back should not arch or flatten during the movement). Draw the leg back up and lower the other foot. When you can do this with control, extend leg straight as it lowers and switch to touching your heel down.

How many: 2 sets of 10-12 reps

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