Functional Strength Workout for Runners

Stay fit with exercises outdoors!

You might not have access to a gym, but go ahead and get your strength exercises done! A simple park bench or a playground might offer all you need. Steps, rails, or even trees can be converted to your alternative fitness equipment.

An exercise which can help you to stay away from injuries and improve your running performance is considered ‘functional’. Functional exercises are more efficient for runners compared to simple traditional exercises.

Check them out and give them a try – after your next run!

Exercises #1 – Dips with Leg Lift

Sit on a bench or step, place hands right next to your thighs. Get into a ‘reverse-bench’ position by extending your arms and lifting your hips off the bench.

Walk your feet away from the bench and bend your elbows to lower your torso. To make the dips more challenging, lift one foot off the ground.

After 10 reps, switch to the other leg.

Exercise #2 – Step Ups

Put one foot on the top of a stair or platform, extend your hips and knees and lift your body up to the top.

Place the second foot on top of the stair and extend your hips fully, before stepping down with the other leg.

Add difficulty by holding your arms overhead. Switch out legs, go for 10 reps each leg.

Exercise #3 – Elevated Push Ups

You can always go for the full version and crank out your regular push ups on the ground. But to increase the number of reps and sets, most of us benefit from using an elevated version.

Start in a plank position with your palms placed on a bench or rail. Bend your elbows and lower your entire body.

Keep your glutes tight as well as your ankles, hips and shoulders aligned.

Exercise #4 – Hanging Leg Raises

Grab the overhead bar shoulder-width apart. Engage your core and lift both legs off the ground into a hanging position.

Raise both legs up front until parallel to the ground.

Hold for 1-2s before slowly returning to your hanging position. Repeat 10 times.

If you do not have a bar available, get on the floor and do extended leg raises as an alternative abs exercise.

Exercise #5 – Bulgarian Split Squats

Stand in front of a bench or step, facing away from it. Bring one leg to your rear and elevate the foot on top of the step.

Keep your back straight with a slight lean in your hips. Bend the rear leg and lower the rear knee towards the ground.

Avoid pushing the front knee over the toes. Keep your hands at your hips. Repeat 10 times and switch legs.

Exercise #6 – Star Planks

On the end of a slide, or any similar elevated object, start in a side plank position. Keep both feet close together, engage your core and align ankles, hips and shoulders.

Raise the top leg and the top arm at the same time into a star position.

Hold the star position for 2s and lower back to the side plank. Repeat 10 times and switch sides.

Exercise #7 – Single Leg Heel Drop-down Squats

Start on top of a bench or stair. Place the left foot towards the edge of the platform, the right foot is hanging off the platform.

Bend the left leg on top of the platform into a single leg squat. Lower the heel of the right foot towards the ground (drop-down).

Straighten back up until fully extended. Repeat 10 times and switch legs.

Exercise #8 – Walking Lunges with Arms Overhead

You will not need any equipment for this exercise. Start standing upright with your arms overhead.

Pull you belly button towards your spine and step forward into a lunge position.

Keep your arms overhead and your back straight. Lower the rear knee towards the ground. Push yourself up and step forward into the next lunge. Repeat 10 times each leg.

Outdoor strength workouts can help you to improve your running fitness by doing exercises right after or in between your runs.

Build up a routine by integrating it into your training week. You could either do it on a running day or alternate between a run day and a day with functional strength training. It also fits well with a walk.

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