We know strength training is important for runners to avoid injuries and improve performance, but when it comes to actually starting a strength training program, it can be difficult to know where to begin. James Dunne, a runner, coach and sports rehab therapist from the U.K. who offers practical advice to runners on his YouTube channel, recently shared a helpful video demonstrating what he believes to be the three most important exercises for runners. If you’re new to strength training, this is a great place to get going.
This is a very reductionist approach to strength training, which makes it easy to incorporate into your weekly routine. There is little to no equipment involved and no fancy footwork, just straightforward, simple exercises that runners can do in their living rooms if they don’t have access to a gym. This makes it a great approach for those who are still trying to establish strength training as a habit, since it isn’t as overwhelming as many other strength programs.
The first exercise Dunne offers is a simple runner’s lunge. This exercise builds general strength in key areas such as the quads, glutes and calves. The second is the runner’s arabesque, which he includes in the lineup to address single-leg balance and stability, since runners are always landing on one foot at a time. Finally, the third exercise, jumping rope, is meant to work on calf conditioning and ankle stiffness to prevent common running injuries like shin splints, calf sprains, plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinopathy.
Dunne encourages runners who are new to strength training to start out with fewer reps, and as you get master the moves and get stronger, you can add more. Additionally, once you’ve established a strength training routine and are more comfortable with this type of exercise, you can begin to branch out and add other exercises to your roster to help you become a stronger, more injury-resistant runner.