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Introductory strength program for runners

The most common running injuries and how a strength routine can help avoid them

Runners are notorious for neglecting strength training. Anything that isn’t actual running they’re not all that jazzed about. But implementing a strength routine can be crucial for injury prevention and longevity. Athletics Canada strength and conditioning coach Jordan Foley says that a basic strength program can help prevent injury and keep a runner moving well. 

strength training with weights for running

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Foley recommends this introductory strength program for runners to try if they’re interested in working strength training into their routine. “Ideally a runner would include total body strength training one or two times per week. This is a good injury prevention measure but also adds variety to a runner’s workout plan.”

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Folly reminds runners that this program can be done at home and requires almost no equipment. “These exercises can progress from just body weight for resistance to using some dumbbells or barbells as the runner improves. Each movement can be done for one to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.” The most common injuries runners deal with are plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinitis, low back pain and poor upper body posture. This program can help you address some of those issues.


Photo: Maxine Gravina

Begin with body-weight lunges and once those become manageable, you can hold a weight over your head. Always remember to watch that your front knee is aligned with your foot. 

Step ups

Find a step that’s approximately knee height and place one leg on top of it. Then drive your straight leg upward, holding at the top. Make sure to drive your arms and point your toe up at the top of the movement. 


When squatting, try to keep you back upright and engage your glutes and core. 

Glute Bridge

Lift and lower your body using your glutes. Take your time with the exercise, it’s about control not speed. 

Push ups

Remember to keep you back straight and get your face close to the ground, without actually making contact. 


Lift and lower yourself using your arms, to make the exercise more difficult, straighten your legs. If you don’t have TRX ropes, you can also use a park bench or kitchen table, just pick something that’s between chest and waist height. 


For core work, start with a front plank and a side plank, holding each for 20 seconds. Progress five second each workout, as long as you can keep proper form until you hit one minute. At that point, you can begin experimenting with lifting one leg off of the ground.