By John Coyle
Knowing how to do strength training as a runner can be tricky. You don’t want to bulk up, but you want to see a positive difference in your running.
It turns out that actually seeing huge benefits from strength training without negatively affecting your running isn’t that difficult and doesn’t take much time.
In this post I am going to give you a 14-day strength training plan that will take an average of under 20 minutes a day and make you a stronger, faster, and healthier runner.
The plan is designed to be somewhat adaptable to your fitness level. It’s important that you don’t entirely wear yourself out doing strength training, but you will feel it (especially if you aren’t used to strength training). I would categorize the effort you should put into these workouts as “light-moderate.”
First, you’ll need to sign up for a 14-day trial of Grokker. You won’t be charged anything for 14 days, so you can complete this challenge and cancel without paying a dime. If you love using Grokker, you can and should continue to use it after your 14-day trial is over.
Here are some simple steps to sign up.
- Go to Grokker.com and click “Get My 2 Weeks Free.”
- Choose which plan you want if you decide to keep Grokker after the free trial (Remember, you won’t get charged until later.)
- Enter your information, click continue to payment information, then enter your payment info.
- Grokker will ask if you are interested in strength training, yoga, or food – select all three.
- Grokker will ask you to choose 3 videos to get started. Choose the following videos:
- 7-minute full-body HIIT
- 14-day abs + yoga challenge
- 20-minute yoga flow
Below is a day-by-day outline of the training program.
7-Minute Total Body HIIT (total video: 9:33) – Start your challenge off right with some highly mobile, fast paced strength training – great for running efficiency, bone density, and keeping your form together late in the race. If at any point you cannot do an exercise or your form is breaking down, take a 20-30 second break and start again.
Morning Yoga: 20-minute Fun Flow (total video: 21:21) – Best to do this in one 20-minute block, but if you are short on time/need to break it up, you can split it up into 2 10-minute sessions. Or, if you must, 4 5 minute sessions – today is a bit more relaxed great for mobility and flexibility. This will help you stay injury free. This session will also help you with core strength, but passively (much less intense than yesterday.) This will help your running form and efficiency. Do not attempt to do a pose that you cannot do. Just skip it and hop back into the routine when it is done.
14-Day Yoga Challenge: Yoga for Abs & Core (total video: 8:40) – We are focusing heavily on core today (don’t worry we will take a break from core tomorrow.) If you are sore, or feel like you are working hard enough to negatively affect your running workouts, take a 15 second break every 30 seconds during this video. This workout is also great for some passive mobility. This is another workout that will help you with form, efficiency, and staying injury free.
Lean Legs: Lower Body Toning Workout (total video: 20:59 – skip to 0:25 to skip the intro) – This video is a little cheesy, but it is a good leg strengthening workout. This is important for runners, and we usually skip over it because
- Our legs are tired
- We think we already get a good enough leg workout from running.
However, many of the exercises in this workout will help with your explosiveness. Better explosiveness = better efficiency. Better efficiency = faster running. Furthermore, this balances your approach to leg strengthening instead of building up one muscle group while another grows relatively weaker.
Total Strength: Yoga for Total Body Flexibility (total video: 19:26 – skip to 0:17 to skip the intro) – Take note of the equipment – you will need a chair, a mat (or carpet), and a strap. (Anything can work as a strap. I sometimes use a towel.) Flexibility is the name of the game today as we take a bit of a “rest” day. This video has another cheesy intro, but I am sure I don’t need to sell you on the merits of flexibility. Flexibility increases mobility which decreases injury. Most runners lack flexibility – most runners also get injured.
Abs in Under 12 (total video: 12:28) – The name of this workout is misleading it says “abs” but it is actually a full core workout. If you don’t know the difference abs are your stomach muscles. They are one muscle group in your core which is, basically all the muscles between your knees and neck. Overall core strength is extremely important for running. Abs are more important for looking good at the beach. Luckily, the best way to get great abs is, actually, to work the full core. Enjoy!
15-Minute High Intensity Interval Training Workout (total video: 14:21) – Quick warning about this workout: the instructor is a bit intense. Some people like it, some don’t. This is your second HIIT workout. If you didn’t already know, everyone loves to hate these workouts. In fact, you might be wondering if you really should be doing such an intense workout since you are also running. Here is my response:
- If your muscles are seizing, or you start to feel like this workout will have an immense negative effect on your running, stop, take a 30 second break, then jump back in. Take breaks as often as you need to.
- Yes. Running does work your cardiovascular system, but HIIT workouts do that in a different way that will make you a better, more well-rounded, healthier runner. I would never recommend something like P90X (intense HIIT workouts everyday) on top of a running program, but short (5-20 minutes) HIIT workouts every week or so are a great addition to your running tool belt.
Bodyweight Training Home Workout (total video: 12:09) – Today we are working the upper body, but incorporating the full body. This is a great medium intensity general strength and mobility workout.
7-Day Body & Soul Boot Camp: Deep Core Yoga (total video: 17:29) – We are focusing on core and mobility again today. This workout isn’t intense, but it is surprisingly challenging. Pay attention to the instructor’s directions about engaging your core. That is important for both running and achieving true core strength.
Total-Strength: Abs and Legs Dumbbell Workout (total video: 18:48) – This workout uses light dumbbells. If you don’t have any dumbbells, you are free to use anything that weighs 5-15 pounds. However, it is IMPORTANT that you use two of the same thing (things that weigh the same). One idea for an alternative to dumbbells is two identical water bottles. You can also do this workout without dumbbells, and if the workout gets too intense with dumbbells you can drop them. The purpose here is to give your legs more strength and explosive capability to increase bone density (prevent injury) and increase efficiency (make you faster).
14-Day Yoga Challenge: Yin Yoga for Your Hips 2 (total video: 14:14) – Taking a recovery day so that we can finish out the last 3 days strong. Today is all about relaxation and hip flexibility/mobility. Hip mobility is extremely important for runners. Since we constantly do the same motion (a motion that doesn’t extend our hip mobility), our hips get rather tight, which can cause injury. Working on mobility and flexibility in our hips can help us stay healthy!
14-Day Yoga Challenge: Flow for Balance (total video: 23:00) – This is going to be a fairly challenging yoga session. As always, with yoga, don’t overextend yourself (pun). Seriously though, don’t try to do something you are uncomfortable with. The session focuses on balance – something runners are notoriously bad at. Good balance, however, can vastly increase your running economy (efficiency), which, as I have said before, will make you faster. This session has the added benefit of helping with mobility, flexibility, and core strength.
Tone & Trim: Arms & Upper Body (total video 19:06) – We don’t work the upper body often as runners, and admittedly it isn’t important, but it is working doing a bit of upper body work about once a week. This will help you battle full-body fatigue when racing. Increased (lean) muscle in your upper body will also increase your metabolism and ability to burn fat, which will help you to achieve your optimal race weight.
HIIT Legs Workout – HIIT Club (total video: 23:42) – This might be the most challenging leg workout yet. Finish strong!