Strength Training for Runners: Beyond the Legs — A Holistic Approach to Performance

Unleashing the Full Potential of Your Running Journey

The Nomad Athlete
3 min readJan 24, 2024


For runners, the repetitive motion of pounding the pavement can take a toll, not just on the legs, but on the entire body. While the focus on lower body strength is essential, adopting a comprehensive, full-body approach to strength training can be a game-changer. In this exploration, we delve into the benefits of broadening your strength training routine, unlocking the full potential of your running performance, and promoting overall well-being.

Core Strength: The Engine of Efficient Running

A strong core is the foundation of efficient running. Engaging the core muscles stabilizes the spine and pelvis, reducing the risk of injuries and improving running form. Incorporate exercises such as planks, Russian twists, and leg raises to build a robust core that enhances your running stability and endurance.

Upper Body Strength: Balance and Posture

While running primarily engages the lower body, neglecting the upper body can lead to imbalances and poor posture. Incorporate exercises like push-ups, rows, and shoulder presses to strengthen your arms, shoulders, and back. A balanced upper body not only improves overall posture but also contributes to a more symmetrical and efficient running stride.

Joint Mobility: Enhancing Range of Motion

Maintaining joint mobility is crucial for runners, especially as the miles add up. Include dynamic stretches and mobility exercises to enhance the range of motion in your hips, knees, and ankles. Improved joint mobility not only reduces the risk of injuries but also allows for a more fluid and natural running motion.

Functional Strength: Mimicking Running Movements

Incorporate functional strength exercises that mimic running movements to target specific muscle groups used during your runs. Lunges, squats, and step-ups not only build strength but also improve coordination and muscle engagement, translating into better running performance.

Stability and Balance Training: Injury Prevention

Running on uneven surfaces or challenging terrains requires stability and balance. Integrating exercises that target these aspects, such as single-leg squats, stability ball exercises, and balance drills, strengthens the stabilizing muscles and helps prevent injuries caused by missteps or uneven terrain.

Flexibility and Recovery: A Vital Component

In the pursuit of strength, don’t overlook flexibility and recovery. Incorporate stretching, foam rolling, and yoga into your routine to maintain muscle elasticity, reduce muscle soreness, and enhance overall flexibility. A flexible body not only aids in injury prevention but also supports a smoother and more efficient running stride.

Periodization: Tailoring Strength Training to Your Running Schedule

Adopt a periodized approach to strength training, aligning it with your running schedule. Vary the intensity and focus of your strength workouts based on your training phases, whether it’s the off-season, base-building, or peak racing. This strategic approach ensures that your strength training complements rather than hinders your running performance.

Conclusion: Elevating Your Running Journey, One Strength at a Time

Strength training for runners extends far beyond the legs, offering a holistic approach that enhances overall performance and well-being. By incorporating full-body strength exercises, prioritizing core stability, addressing joint mobility, and embracing flexibility and recovery, you unlock the full potential of your running journey. So, add diversity to your strength training routine, hit the gym with a comprehensive mindset, and let every stride reflect the strength of your entire body.



The Nomad Athlete

Endurance athlete, digital nomad, nerd. Just a normal guy trying to figure out fitness, business, and life.