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The Best Bodyweight Exercises for Runners (Workout Included!)


If you are a runner, adding resistance training to your routine is a great way to improve your performance. 

Many runners shy away from weightlifting because they think it will make them too bulky, but that is not the case! In fact, adding bodyweight strength exercises for runners to your routine can actually help you become faster and more agile. 

In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of bodyweight exercises for runners, then provide a list of the best exercises. We will also include how to do each exercise and common mistakes people make when doing these exercises.

Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises for Runners

While it’s obvious that runners need to practice running and sprinting to get better at their chosen sport, the benefits of resistance training for runners might not be as obvious. 

Here are some of the most notable benefits of doing bodyweight exercises for runners. 

1. Stronger Running Muscles

For starters, bodyweight exercises help to strengthen the same muscles involved in running, especially the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Stronger muscles can mean better performance, helping you become a better runner overall.(1) (2)

2. Improved Running Posture

Any long-time runner can tell you about the discomfort and muscle strain that comes from running long distances with the wrong posture. Bodyweight exercises help to strengthen the core and back muscles, which can help you maintain proper running posture.(3) 

3. Eliminate (Or Significantly Reduce) Muscle Compensation Patterns

Your body is always looking for the easiest way to perform a task, and if your muscles aren’t strong enough to do the job, they will start compensating. In the case of running, if your glutes are weak, you might be putting a lot of unnecessary stress on the lower back.

Bodyweight exercises help keep your muscles in balance, which can reduce the risk of injuries caused by muscle imbalances. 

4. Lower Risk of Injury

Continuing with the point above, by correcting postural distortions and overcompensation issues, runners are less likely to experience sudden sports injuries.(4)

5. Better Overall Biomechanics

Above all, one of the best reasons for runners to start strength training via bodyweight exercises is the vast improvement in overall biomechanics. In other words, your muscles will learn to fire together more effectively. This will assist with proper form and technique as well as overall performance. 

Are Bodyweight Exercises Enough for Runners?

Yes, bodyweight exercises are enough for runners. Keep in mind that as a runner, your goal is to build strength and endurance in the muscles used most often when running. 

While weightlifting can also be very beneficial for runners, it’s not a requirement. Bodyweight exercises can provide these benefits without having to lift weights or use any machines. 

The catch is that it’s recommended to focus on powerful movements that target all of the muscle groups, especially those used when running. By following a full-body workout of compound exercises, you will be able to get the muscular strength and endurance necessary for improved running performance.  

What Are the Best Bodyweight Exercises for Runners?

Now that we have discussed why bodyweight exercises are beneficial for runners let’s go through some of the best bodyweight exercises for runners.

After reviewing these exercises, you’ll have a full-body workout to get you started right away!

180 Jump Squats

Muscles Worked:


Sets and Reps:

Three sets of 10 to 15 reps

How to Perform 180 Jump Squats:

Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and toes pointing out. Start by sitting back into a half squat position, then quickly jump up as high as you can while spinning 180 degrees in the air. Softly land back on your feet.

Superman Pull

Muscles Worked:

Lower backUpper backGlutesHamstringsCore

Sets and Reps:

Three sets of 15 to 20 reps

How to Perform:

Start on your stomach with your arms straight out in front of you. Engage your glutes and core as you slowly lift both legs and arms off the ground. Keep your feet raised above the ground as you pull your arms back like you’re making the shape of a goalpost.Hold this position for one to two seconds, then lower your arms and legs back down. 

Single-Leg Deadlift

Muscles Worked:

Glutes Hamstrings Lower Back Core

Sets and Reps:

Three sets of 12 to 15 reps

How to Perform:

Start standing with feet hip-width apart. Lift one leg behind you while hinging forward at the hips, and lower the torso towards the ground, keeping the back flat and arms outstretched.Lower until your upper body is parallel to the ground or as far as you can while maintaining form. Pause for one second and drive through your heel to return to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg.


Muscles Worked:

ChestFront deltsTricepsCore

Sets and Reps:

Three sets of Failure Reps (as many as you can)

How to Perform:

Begin with hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the ground, holding a plank position.Keep the legs behind you while ensuring your core is core activated. Lower yourself by bending at the elbows, bringing your chest down towards the ground.Stop once the upper arms are parallel to the floor. Pause for one second, then push back up to the starting position. Make sure to keep your body in a straight line throughout the exercise. 

Wall Handstand Kick Up

Muscles Worked:


Sets and Reps:

Three sets of 6 to 12 reps (total)

How to Perform:

Start by walking yourself up a wall with feet together and hands on the ground. Once you find your balance by engaging the core, slowly kick one leg up and away from the wall. Pause in this position for one second, then lower the leg back down. Repeat on the other side.Be careful as you walk yourself back down the wall.


Muscles Worked:


Sets and Reps:

Three sets of 12 to 20 reps

How to Perform:

Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Plant the feet hip-width apart, and press them into the ground to lift the hips up. Pause at the top of the position for one second, then slowly lower back down to start. Make sure to keep your core engaged throughout the exercise. 

Calf Raises

Muscles Worked:


Sets and Reps:

Three sets of 20 to 30 reps

How to Perform:

Start by standing with feet hip-width apart. Raise yourself up onto the toes, then pause at the top of the movement, focusing on intensely contracting your calf muscles.After a moment or two, slowly lower your heels back down to the starting position and repeat for desired reps. Make sure to keep your core engaged throughout this exercise.

Beginner Burpees

Muscles Worked:


Sets and Reps:

Three sets of Failure Reps (do as many as you can)

How to Perform:

Before you begin, make sure you are standing up straight, and your feet are in a hip-width stance. Bend your knees as you squat down toward the ground.Place your hands on the ground in front of you. Carefully step both of your feet back one at a time into a high plank position, then step them back in towards your hands. Stand up and return to the starting position.

Bodyweight Exercises for Runners: Full Workout Program

Now that you know the benefits of bodyweight exercises for runners and some of the best exercises to include in your routine, you can start incorporating them into your running regimen. 

These exercises are a great start, but are you looking for a complete bodyweight exercise program, one that is custom-built for runners? We can help!

Our Running Strong training plan in the adidas Training app is built for runners by runners. This comprehensive program is a favorite and one that can help strengthen and tone your muscles, improve posture, reduce the risk of injury, and even enhance your performance.

Check out Running Strong in the adidas Training app today!

It’s important to always warm up and stretch before attempting any of these exercises, as well as consult a doctor if you have any pre-existing conditions.

Most importantly: keep practicing, stay safe, and have fun!

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