While a consistent running regimen will do a great job of strengthening your legs and lungs, it won’t do much for many of the muscles in the rest of your body. A basic 30 to 45 minute strength-training session once or twice a week will improve overall body balance and help lessen the likelihood of an overuse injury.
No need to get fancy: your own body weight, a set of dumbbells and a stability ball will do the trick. Non-running days during the base building phase of your training are an ideal time to incorporate some strength training into your weekly routine.
Give the session described below a shot. Take 1-2 minutes recovery time between each exercise. Start with one set of the circuit and work your way up to three sets over the course of 8 weeks.
Pull-ups – Using a pull up bar, position your hands slightly wider than shoulder with apart. Let your body hang until your arms are straight. Pull yourself up until your chin is parallel with the bar. Repeat 3-5 times.
Single-Leg Deadlifts – Take a 10-20 pound dumbbell in your right hand and stand on your left leg with the knee slightly bent. Lower the dumbbell to the floor with your right arm, keeping it straight, and be sure that your back is locked as your right leg kicks back. Keep your head up and aim to maintain a straight line between your right shoulder and your right leg. When the dumbbell gets close to the floor, pull your right arm up away from the floor and bring your right leg back toward a standing position. Repeat this sequence ten times, then switch and do the same on your right leg.
Pushup Matrix – This exercise utilizes three positions: 1. Hands parallel and shoulder width apart. 2. Hands staggered, right one forward. 3. Hands staggered, left arm forward. Perform 5 reps in each position. For an additional challenge, try doing this exercise putting your hands atop a stability ball.
Plank Matrix – This exercise also utilizes three positions: 1. Face down, forearms on the floor shoulder width apart (hold for one minute). 2. Right side, forearm on the floor (hold for 30 seconds). 3. Left side, forearm on the floor (hold for 30 seconds).
Hamstring Curls — Lay on your back and put your feet atop the stability ball. Lift your lower back off the ground and push the ball away from you with your feet, straightening your legs and keeping your core right. Then bring the ball back toward you. Repeat 20 times.
Burpees – Start in standing position. Fall to the floor into a pushup position, straightening your body so it’s parallel with the floor. Hold this position for two seconds before coming back up to a standing position and jumping into the air, straightening your body. Perform 10-15 burpees per set.
Bodyweight Squats – Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your heels firmly planted on the floor. Put your hands straight out in front of you and begin lowering your body into a sitting position. Keep your back straight and push your weight into your heels as you reach a sitting position. Hold for three seconds before returning to a standing position. Repeat 10-15 times. For an additional challenge, perform this exercise with 10-15 pound dumbbells.
Reverse Dips – Stand with your back to a bench or chair whose seat is about 3 feet off the ground. Put your hands on the seat behind you just beyond shoulder width apart and your feet two to three feet out in front of you (heels will be on the ground, toes up in the air), keeping your body straight. Lower your upper body until your elbow reaches a 90-degree angle. Repeat 10-15 times.
Originally published on December 11, 2013. Updated September 12, 2018.