Having strong glutes will improve your running performance and if you neglect them, you’re missing out on some significant speed gains. They’re also extremely important when it comes to injury prevention, and runners who regularly work on improving their glute strength can reduce their risk for hip, knee and ankle problems, among other issues. These five exercises are easy to perform and can be done in just a few minutes, but can go a long way in making you a stronger, faster runner.
This is a classic glute strength exercise, and there’s a reason. It’s an excellent exercise for runners who struggle with IT band syndrome or runner’s knee, and it’s a great preventative measure for everyone else. It can be done without any equipment, but as you get stronger, wrapping a resistance band around your legs, just above your knees, can make the exercise tougher and even more effective.
- Lying on your side, bend your knees at a 90-degree angle.
- With your core held tight and your heels pressed together, squeeze your glutes to lift your top knee into the air, only going as high as you can go without shifting your hips.
- Return your knee to the starting position and repeat 15-20 times before switching to your other side.
Side-lying leg lifts
This is another exercise that is very helpful for treating and preventing IT band syndrome and runner’s knee, because it strengthens the glute medius (the muscle on the side of your glutes) as well as the other small muscles in and around your hips.
- Lying on your side, bend your bottom knee at a 90-degree angle and extend your top leg out straight, so that you form a straight line from your head to your ankle.
- Keeping your toe pointed forward, squeeze your glutes and raise your leg up into the air, only going as high as you can without shifting your hips.
- Return your leg to the starting position and repeat 15-20 times before switching to the other side.
The glute bridge activates your glutes which can reduce knee and back pain. It is also a great exercise for engaging your core. To increase the difficulty, you can wrap a band around your legs, or try doing it with one leg at a time.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, keeping your arms at your sides with your palms facing down.
- Engage your lower abdominals by scooping your tailbone up toward your knees.
- Squeeze your glutes and to lift your hips off the floor until you’ve created a straight line from you knees to your shoulders.
- Pause for a couple of seconds at the top, then lower back down. Repeat 15-20 times.
Stability ball v-lift
This exercise engages your glutes, abs and lower back, which helps improve your form while you’re running and prevents many common running injuries.
- Lay face-down with your stomach on a stability ball, bracing your feet on the ground with your legs hip-width apart.
- Place your hands either behind your head or on the floor, and squeeze your glutes to slowly raise one leg at a time, keeping your core tight.
- Alternate from side-to-side, until you’ve done 15-20 reps on each leg.
Single leg deadlifts help runners to develop independent hip and leg strength, and help you avoid side-to-side muscle imbalances that can lead to injuries. You can start doing these with just your body weight, and as you improve, hold a dumbbell in one hand.
- Stand on your right leg with a slight bend in your knee.
- Hold your core tight, and without bending your knee any further, hinge at your hips to lower your chest toward the floor, extending your opposite leg out behind you. Your back should stay straight throughout the entire movement.
- Slowly return to standing, then repeat 15-20 times on each side.