If you are not incorporating strength training into your trail running regime you are doing yourself a disservice as a trail runner. Strength training makes you a more efficient trail runner, reduces your risk of picking up injuries, increases endurance and so much more. Here are some great exercises for strength training for trail runners…
Note that for any of these below suggested workouts/exercises (except Tightrope Powerband Walk), doing them in a Tabata format (20 seconds of max work/reps and then 10 seconds of rest, for eight rounds) will yield top results.
Alternating Jumping Lunges
This fantastic exercise is very effective for working your key running muscles, while simultaneously upping your stability. Begin by advancing into a lunging position, keeping an equal amount of weight on both legs. From that position, jump straight up into the air and land with your legs and feet swapping positions, mirroring the opposite leg’s former position.
Single-Leg Step Ups and Heel Drops
By performing this exercise, your quads, glutes and lower leg strength will definitely be enhanced. Use a bench (or any stable elevated platform) which you can step up and on to. Begin by stepping up on to the bench using only one leg, while the other leg is only used for when you step back down (i.e stepping up and down for reps). You can increase the difficulty by using a higher platform to step up to, but no higher than your max reach without having to jump up. Perform between ten and 20 reps on each leg. On the last rep, for each leg, lower your leg behind to the ground and flex your glutes.
Broad Jump Plyo Squats
Broad Jump Plyo Squats gives you endurance and strength that is required for jumping over various trail obstacles. Stand in front of a bench (or any stable elevated platform), with your feet more than a shoulder width apart (i.e. the same as your squat stance) and your toes slightly pointing outwards. Drop to a squat position (i.e. butt past your hip crease) and then jump up and on to the bench, landing in a squatting position. Stand up on the bench and finish off in a standing position.
Tightrope Powerband Walk
The tightrope powerband walk is a favoured exercise because of the remarkable manner in which it bolsters your glutes (as do GHD Sit-Ups) and your proprioceptors (sensor receptors which seek to assist with stability). For this exercise, you will need a powerband (or resistance) band. Start off by placing the band around your ankles. You will then take a wider stance, like your squat stance (i.e. feet outside shoulder width), and take around 30 steps forward (alternating legs), and then retrace your steps walking backwards. Doing multiple rounds, with minimal and equal amounts of rest between them, is great.
Overhead Walking Lunges
Overhead walking lunges are a supreme core-strengthening exercise. Start off with your arms stretched out straight up above your head, in line with your torso. Take an exaggerated step forward, so that your front knee is stacked directly above your front foot, and your back foot is stretched out with your back knee just touching or elevated off the ground. Alternate legs by stepping forward to an upright position and then lunging forward with the opposite leg. To up the intensity, hold a weight-plate above your head, or even a barbell with weights on it.
From an upright standing position, hold kettlebells, dumbbells or a weighted barbell in front of you, at your hip height. Begin by slightly bending your standing knee (i.e. your leg which will remain planted on the ground) and lean over and forward with your other leg stretched out backwards. Always ensure that your back remains straight (i.e. no curve in the spine from head to butt), and that your shoulders are pinned back. Your toes of your back leg should be facing the ground when they’re elevated. Lean over and forward, until the weights go just past your knee. Contract your glutes and hamstrings and revert back to an upright standing position – alternate your legs. This works your hamstrings, core strength hamstring and improves balance.
Strength training for trail runners is often overlooked despite it being a major trail running enhancer. It’s never too late to start incorporating strength training into your trail running training…
Do you do any strength training for trail running? What other exercises do you do?