Strength and coordination training for runners

These online exercises are designed to build functional strength and coordination to improve your running technique. You can do these exercises anywhere at anytime as they use body weight to provide resistance.  If you like an additional challenge, most can be modified to include the use of barbells and other weights. All of the exercises can be used as part of a dynamic warm-up to stimulate muscle activation before running.

As much as this is a training program, it is also designed to be a learning experience.  Rather than just prescribe exercises and a program we have taken the approach of giving you all the information you need to successfully use strength training for running, but also for long term health and fitness. We believe that good coaching helps you understand why your are doing something not just how.

What you get:

  • Online access to 12 exercises that help improve strength and coordination for running.
  • A detailed understanding of how strength training can help stimulate better running technique.
  • The know-how to build a more injury resistant running body.
  • Full exercise descriptions to guide you through each phase of movement.
  • Video tutorials explaining technique and the benefits of each exercise to your running.
  • Video demonstrations and photographs for each exercise.
  • Training structure for integrating strength and coordination training into your weekly routine.

The benefits of strength training for running technique by Melbourne Running Coach Brian Martin.

As featured in Run 4 Your Life Magazine June/July 2011 issue:

Download free PDF inclusive of full exercise descriptions.

Strength training improves absolute strength in muscles and tendons and its benefit to running is easy to understand.  Stronger muscles and connective tissue mean the movements that drive running can be performed with more power, for longer with less energy cost.  But this is only part of the story.

When I talk about strength training I always add the word coordination into the discussion because gains in strength are linked to factors other than building bigger muscles.  This is where the direct relationship between strength training and better running technique becomes apparent.

For example, studies have shown that strength improves by:

  • the central nervous system and muscles learning to work more efficiently;
  • better coordination between groups of muscles;
  • eliminating muscles activating at the wrong time; and
  • assuming more advantageous postures to allow muscles to express their maximum strength.

Researchers have also suggested that when movements become more complex, such as in running, there is greater opportunity for strength gains by focusing on these neurological factors. This makes strength and coordination training vitally important to any runner trying to improve their running technique.

Dr Philo Saunders also found during his PhD studies that one of the key factors in increasing running economy was improving the recruitment of the buttock and hamstring muscles and utilising the elastic energy stored in the muscle tendon systems.  Strength training ticks both of these boxes.

Good running technique is built around the foundations of coordination, activation and strength in the glutes and hamstrings.  During the research for my eBook Running Technique, I identified studies of talented athletes that explained when muscle groups were firing at each stage of the running cycle.  The hamstrings were shown to be the most active group and the glutes, while not firing for long, work hard just before and during the early stages of contact with the ground.  In a nutshell, these muscles work together to sustain good running technique by generating force while regulating optimal posture at the hip and knee joints.

Melbourne Running Coach Brian Martin demonstrates the single leg decline squatTraining the glutes and hamstring muscles in postures and movement patterns similar to running can improve the technique of runners at all levels of ability.  These muscles thrive on good coordination because they control the posture of the hip and lower back and the generation of movement through the hips and knees.  There are numerous exercises runners can perform that will help strengthen the muscles around the hip and improve their coordination with the hamstrings.  Runners enjoy the outdoors and often resent time in the gym, the good news is there are exercises that can be performed at home or the track without equipment.  These can be completed as a separate strength session or alternatively before running.  This saves time and helps activate the glutes and hamstrings during running.  Do less volume and intensity if you are running after strength training.

Master the coordination to perform each exercise before adding weights, faster movements or increasing ranges of motion.  Remember that a movement driven by activation of the correct primary and supporting muscles groups will provide more benefit than increasing the size of muscles that cannot work effectively as part of the overall neuromuscular team.


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