Strength Exercises for Runners
Runners can develop muscle strength by performing a variety of exercises using free weights or machines. The following sections recommend strength training exercises for the major muscle groups, and these are listed in table 8.1.
Although the barbell squat is the traditional leg exercise, many runners find that placing the barbell on the shoulders is uncomfortable. The dumbbell squat provides an option; however, some people may find it difficult to balance well enough to perform the exercise properly or may lack the strength to hold heavy dumbbells.
If you decide not to do barbell or dumbbell squats, you can strengthen your hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteals by doing the leg press on a machine that offers a full movement range and back support. It may be advisable to precede the leg press exercises with leg extension exercises, which target the quadriceps and with leg curl exercises, which target the hamstrings. By prefatiguing these muscle groups, you will use less resistance in the more challenging leg press exercise to achieve the same conditioning effect. One set of each exercise is sufficient, but you may perform an additional set if you desire.
Runners should conclude their strength training workouts with a set of weighted toe raises, as shown in figure 8.1, to strengthen the shin muscles (anterior tibialis) and maintain muscular balance in the lower-leg musculature (gastrocnemius, soleus, plantaris).