Bodyweight workout for runners is an excellent way to improve your running performance. They’re a form of exercise that uses your body weight to build strength, endurance, and flexibility without the need for equipment.
As a runner, it’s important for you to focus on building strength and endurance to complement your running routine.
A well-rounded fitness routine should include bodyweight training, which offers many benefits, including injury prevention, better running economy, improved running performance, and increased overall strength.
And what’s best is that bodyweight exercises are a great way to build strength, flexibility, and endurance without the need for equipment or a gym membership. You can do it at home, in a park, or even in your office during your lunch break.
As a certified personal trainer and running coach for over a decade, I definitely know a thing or two about bodyweight exercises for runners.
In this article, I’ll go over the best bodyweight exercises and workout for runners, covering everything from warm-up to cool-down so that you can add it to your routine starting today!
Why Consider Bodyweight Training for Runners
Before we jump into the workout, let’s take a moment to talk about why bodyweight training is important for runners.
While running is an excellent way to build cardio fitness and endurance, it doesn’t necessarily target all the muscles you need for optimal running performance.
Supplementing with bodyweight exercises can help improve your muscle strength, stability, and flexibility, which can reduce the risk of injury and help you become a better runner overall.
Building Strength and Endurance
Bodyweight training can help increase your overall strength and endurance, which is important for runners. Running is a high-impact exercise that puts a lot of stress on your joints and muscles, and without proper strength training, you may be more prone to injury.
Exercises like squats, lunges, and push-ups work your lower body, increasing your leg strength, while planks and glute bridges help strengthen your core and stabilizing muscles.
These exercises can help you maintain good form throughout your runs, reducing the risk of injury and improving your posture and efficiency.
Plus, bodyweight training can also help you build muscular endurance, which is important for long-distance running.
By incorporating exercises like burpees, mountain climbers, and jumping jacks into your routine, you can improve your cardiovascular fitness and increase your ability to sustain high-intensity exercise for longer periods.
Injury Prevention and Recovery
Injuries are a common risk for runners. Luckily, bodyweight training can help you prevent and recover from common injuries.
Strengthening your glutes can help prevent knee pain, while lunges and squats can alleviate hip and ankle pain. Plus, foam rolling and post-workout stretching can promote muscle recovery, which is particularly helpful for runners who put a lot of stress on their joints and muscles.
What’s best is that bodyweight exercises can also help correct muscle imbalances, which can lead to injury. For example, if you have weak glutes, your body may compensate by overusing your hamstrings, which can lead to strains or pulls.
By incorporating exercises like glute bridges and single-leg deadlifts into your routine, you can strengthen your glutes and reduce the risk of injury.
Improved Running Performance
By increasing your body’s overall fitness level, bodyweight training can also improve your running performance. A strong and stable core can help you maintain better posture and balance, while strong legs can increase your power and speed.
Plus, a well-rounded workout can help improve your flexibility, which can lead to a more efficient running gait and reduce the risk of back pain and other common injuries.
Bodyweight exercises can also help you develop better neuromuscular control, which is the ability of your brain to communicate with your muscles. By incorporating exercises like single-leg squats and jumping lunges into your routine, you can improve your balance and coordination, which can translate to better running form and fewer injuries.
Warm-Up: Prepare Your Body for the Workout
Before jumping into the workout, it’s important to warm up your body correctly to reduce the risk of injury and prepare your muscles for the workout ahead. Here are a few warm-up exercises that you can include:
Dynamic stretching involves moving your body through stretches that mimic the movements you’ll be making during the workout. Examples include walking lunges, high knees, and leg swings, which can help activate your lower body muscles and increase blood flow to your muscles.
It’s important to perform dynamic stretching before any workout to get your muscles ready for the exercises ahead.
Dynamic stretching can help improve your range of motion, flexibility, and overall performance during the workout. It can also help reduce the risk of injury by increasing blood flow to your muscles and joints.
Foam rolling can help relieve muscle tension and improve flexibility during your warm-up. Use a foam roller to roll out your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, applying moderate pressure to any tight spots.
It’s an excellent way to loosen up any tight muscles before a workout. It can help increase blood flow to your muscles, improve flexibility, and reduce the risk of injury.
Activation exercises can help switch on your muscles and prepare them for the upcoming workout. Examples include clams, leg lifts, and glute bridges, which can help activate your glutes and core.
Activation exercises are important for preparing your muscles for the workout ahead. They can help improve your muscle activation, increase your range of motion, and improve your overall performance during the workout.
Activation exercises can also help reduce the risk of injury by preparing your muscles for the exercises you’ll be doing.
6 Best Core Bodyweight Exercises for Runners
Now that you’re warmed up, let’s dive into the core bodyweight exercises. We’ll cover core bodyweight exercises for runners that you can start doing today:
Squats are a classic lower body exercise that targets your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Not only do squats help improve your running form, but they also help prevent injuries.
Remember to keep your chest up, and your knees over your toes, and squat as low as feels comfortable for you. If you’re looking to increase the intensity of your squat, try adding weights or doing jump squats.
Lunges work your lower body muscles and improve your balance and stability. They also help strengthen your hips, which is important for runners.
Make sure to keep your chest up and step forward with a long stride, bending your front knee and lowering your back knee towards the ground. If you’re looking for a challenge, try adding weights or doing walking lunges.
Push-ups target your chest, triceps, and shoulders and can be done in various modifications to suit your fitness level. They also help improve your posture, which is important for runners.
Start in a plank position, with your hands and feet shoulder-width apart, lower your body until your chest touches the ground, then push back up. If you’re looking for a challenge, try doing decline push-ups or diamond push-ups.
Example: Outside body weight workout from Life in Leggings is a great pre or post run option!!
Planks target your core muscles and help improve your posture and stability. They also help prevent injuries by strengthening your lower back.
Start in a push-up position, then lower down onto your forearms and hold your body in a straight line for 30 to 60 seconds. If you’re looking for a challenge, try doing side planks or plank jacks.
5. Glute Bridges
Glute bridges target your glutes and core muscles, improving hip stability and reducing the risk of knee pain. They also help improve your running form by strengthening your glutes.
Lay on your back with your knees bent, lift your hips off the ground, and squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement. If you’re looking for a challenge, try doing a single leg glute bridge or adding weights.
6. Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers work your entire body and help elevate your heart rate during your workout. They also help improve your running form by strengthening your core and hip flexors.
From a plank position, bring your right knee into your chest, then quickly switch legs, bringing your left knee in. Continue alternating for 30 to 60 seconds. If you’re looking for a challenge, try doing cross-body mountain climbers or adding a push-up in between each movement.
Advanced Bodyweight Exercises for Runners for Increased Challenge
If you’re looking to take your bodyweight workout to the next level, here are six advanced exercises to try:
Pistol squats are one-legged squat that targets your glutes, hips, and quads. Starting in a standing position, lift one leg off the ground, then slowly lower down into a squat position, keeping your chest up and your knee over your ankle.
To make pistol squats even more challenging, try holding a weight in front of your chest or adding a jump at the top of the movement.
Jumping lunges are a plyometric variation of regular lunges that target your lower body and increase your heart rate. From a lunge position, jump into the air and switch your legs mid-air before landing in a lunge position again.
If you’re struggling to keep your balance during jumping lunges, try slowing down the movement and focusing on your form. You can also try holding onto a sturdy object, such as a chair or wall, for support.
Handstand push-ups focus on your shoulder and tricep muscles and require a lot of upper body strength. Start in a handstand position against the wall, then slowly lower your body towards the ground, bend your elbows, then push back up.
If you’re new to handstand push-ups, start by practicing against a wall and gradually increasing the number of reps you can do. You can also try using a resistance band to assist with the movement.
Side Plank with Leg Lift
Side plank with leg lift targets your obliques and glutes and improves your balance and stability. Start in a side plank position, then lift your top leg towards the ceiling while keeping your hips square.
If you’re finding this exercise too easy, try holding a weight in your top hand or adding a hip dip to the movement.
Single-Leg Glute Bridges
Single-leg glute bridges work your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles, improving hip stability and reducing the risk of injury.
Lay on your back with one leg bent and the other extended out, lift your hips off the ground using your bent leg, and then slowly lower back down.
To increase the difficulty of this exercise, try holding a weight on your hips or adding a pulse at the top of the movement.
Burpees are a full-body exercise that increases your heart rate and targets your chest, abs, and legs.
Starting in a standing position, lower down to the ground, then quickly jump your feet back into a push-up position, then jump your feet back in towards your hands and jump up into the air.
If you’re finding burpees too easy, try adding a push-up or a tuck jump at the end of the movement. You can also try doing burpees for time, seeing how many you can do in a set amount of time.
Example: On the road full body workout from FitAspire
Designing Your Bodyweight Workout Routine
When it comes to designing your bodyweight workout routine, there are a few important components to consider.
Create a Balanced Workout
Aim to include exercises that target your entire body, including your lower and upper body, core, and stabilizing muscles. A balanced workout routine will help you avoid muscle imbalances and reduce the risk of injury.
For your lower body, exercises like squats, lunges, and calf raises are great options. For your upper body, push-ups, pull-ups, and dips are excellent choices. Planks, sit-ups, and leg raises are fantastic for your core, while exercises like bird dogs and bridges will help strengthen your stabilizing muscles.
Try to include a mix of high-intensity exercises, strength-training exercises, and flexibility exercises.
High-intensity exercises like burpees and jumping jacks will get your heart rate up and burn calories, while strength-training exercises like push-ups and squats will help you build muscle. Flexibility exercises like yoga or stretching will help improve your range of motion and reduce the risk of injury.
Progression and Variation
As you get stronger, it’s important to increase the intensity of your workout gradually. One way to do this is by increasing the number of reps, sets, or adding weight. Plus, incorporating different variations of exercises can help prevent boredom and challenge your muscles in different ways.
For example, if you’ve been doing regular push-ups, try switching to diamond push-ups or one-arm push-ups. If you’ve been doing regular squats, try adding in jump squats or pistol squats.
Schedule Your Workouts
Bodyweight workouts can be done anywhere and anytime, including at home or while traveling. Aim to include at least two to three bodyweight workouts per week to see optimal health and fitness results.
Remember to listen to your body and take rest days as needed. Bodyweight exercises can be intense, so it’s important to give your muscles time to recover.
With these tips in mind, you can design a bodyweight workout routine that will help you reach your fitness goals and improve your overall health and well-being.
Best Bodyweight Workout for Runners – Complete Program
If designing your own bodyweight workout is confusing, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!
Run To The Finish has a complete 8-week progressive bodyweight strength program for runners that includes video demonstrations to make sure you have a good form throughout and can increase the intensity of your workouts easily every single week.
I’m LOVING the feedback from runners who have already gone through it. “I start out thinking each workout will be too easy, but by the end I’m sweating and feeling so much stronger every week.”
It includes exercises for beginners and also more advanced ones for anyone who has more experience. Each week you’ll have three bodyweight workout days and I’ve included exactly what you need to do so that you don’t have to think about it.
This program is based on years of experience as a certified running coach and personal trainer, so you can rest assured that you’ll get the results you want while improving your running performance every single week!
Cool-Down: Promote Recovery and Flexibility after Workout
Completing a workout is a great accomplishment, but it’s important to remember that the work doesn’t stop there.
After a workout, it’s important to allow your body to cool down properly. A proper cool-down can help reduce muscle soreness, improve recovery time, and increase flexibility.
One of the best ways to cool down after a workout is through static stretching. Static stretching involves holding a stretch position for 20 to 30 seconds. This helps reduce muscle soreness and improve flexibility.
Make sure to stretch out your quads, hamstrings, calves, and hip muscles after your workout. This will help your muscles recover and prevent any potential injuries.
Checkout the best post run stretches for ideas!
Another great cool-down exercise is foam rolling. Foam rolling after a workout can help relax your muscles and relieve muscle tension.
Use a foam roller to roll out your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, applying moderate pressure to any tight spots. This can help prevent any muscle knots from forming and promote better blood flow to your muscles.
Breathing and Relaxation Techniques
It’s also important to focus on breathing and relaxation techniques during your cool-down. Deep breathing and relaxation techniques can help reduce stress and promote recovery.
Take a few deep breaths, exhale slowly, and focus on relaxing your body and mind. This can help reduce any tension you may be feeling and help you feel more relaxed and rejuvenated after your workout.
Remember, a proper cool-down is just as important as the workout itself. By taking the time to cool down properly, you can help your body recover faster and prevent any potential injuries. So, next time you finish a workout, make sure to take the time to cool down and promote recovery and flexibility.
So, what are you waiting for? Start incorporating bodyweight exercises into your running routine today or check out my 8-week progressive bodyweight strength program for runners for a detailed program that I know you’ll love!
Common Bodyweight Workout Questions
Is body weight really enough to see results?
Yes! In order to do most body weight moves you can’t isolate a single area, instead you have to engage your entire body!
You have more than enough weight on your body to challenge your muscles and most of the moves tend to look easy, but get you sweating through intensity right away. Plus in these positions, you’ll be forced to engage your core for stability which is a key need of runners.
What if it’s not hard enough?
The most amazing thing about these gym workouts for runners is that they’re always hard, so don’t underestimate them.
And don’t let that discourage you. What I mean is that as you progress the workouts remain just as hard because you learn new variations, do more reps or simply improve your form in ways that crank up the intensity. You control the hard.
I.e. Checkout this OLD SCHOOL workout I shared during a group challenge in 2015!! If you can already do a bear crawl, try crawling forward kicking your leg out, coming back and then crawling backwards. It’s whole different level of core stability required.
What defines a body weight workout?
Any move that requires you to utilize strength to move your own body weight.
- Push ups
- Tricep dips
- Mountain Climbers
- Box jumps
Do they need to be runner specific?
The truth is nearly every body weight exercise is going to be great for runners.
We need more upper body strength to propel us up hills (yes your arms can get tired), we need more core stability to maintain good form, we need more leg power to keep our muscles activated and balanced.
So overall, I just want to see you get moving!!!
Looking for more training tips?
- Best Online Strength Training Programs for At Home
- Benefits of Upper Body Strength for Runners
- Does Running Tone Your Legs?
- Does Running Burn Fat?
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