Obviously, running is lower-body dominant, so training the legs is important. But let’s not forget about the upper body: Arms and your core, and how its rotation aids the stretch-shortening cycle and essentially, your running performance.
By training the entire body, you impact your muscular strength and muscular endurance, which has a strong positive impact on your running form, movement efficiency and pace. Every time you train, there is a level up in your fitness level and your bodies ability to keep up with your running goals. Plus it is a low-stress, low-impact way to build on your athletic prowess.
Resistance work can be part of your training plan, it can be a cross-training session should you need to trade a run or are injured. Speaking of injury, resistance training and band work are perfect for injury rehabilitation too (and pre-habilitation!)
Workouts designed with runners in mind will target the big muscles, and that is what we are going to focus on, the big, primary muscles, with resistance Bands that have a door anchor.
7 key exercises with resistance bands to benefit running performance
- Hamstring curls
- Leg extension
- Step up
- Glute extension
- Explosive low-to-high Woodchop
- Pectoral flies
- Lateral core twists
- Hamstring curls:
- Leg extension:
- Hip extension:
- Explosive low to high Woodchop:
- Pectoral flies:
- Lateral twists:
Hamstrings are the three big muscles on the back of your upper thigh. Tasked with the role to decelerate a straightening leg within a stride. Also, the hamstrings work together to flex the knee and extend the hip.
With the anchor below the door, lay on your front (feet closest to the door). Have the band attached to your ankle; the band should be lax when your legs are straight, so when you flex your knees (as close to your backside as possible) the band is taught and resisting your movement. Hold for 2 seconds and then slowly release. DO NOT simply flop your legs straight, the lowering also helps to train the hamstrings in their eccentric contraction role of slowing down a straightening leg within a stride.
This exercise targets your quadriceps muscles at the top front of your thigh. A group of 4 muscles that flex your hip and extend your knee together. In running they are the driving force to your stride.
For this you will need a chair*
Have the band anchor underneath the door, and have your set facing away from it. The band should come underneath the chair and be lax when you sit and put a foot in the handle attachment. Keeping your hamstrings directly on the chair, extend your knee so your leg is fully straight hold for two seconds and slowly lower back to the starting position. Note: you might have to move your chair around to find the prime resistance spot.
A functional movement that engages your entire lower body, from gastroc complex muscles to your hamstrings, quads and glutes.
Use below the door anchor again, and have the band attached to your ankle. As you step up with the non-banded foot (you can use the chair from before if it’s safe) your banded leg will follow. Driving a high knee, and alternate arms like an emphasised running stride. The banded leg will ideally not touch the step, to work on your proprioception and core, and get the most out of one exercise.
By keeping your leg straight and extending the hip, you are working your gluteal muscles. The powerhouse of your hips that work with your hamstring to power your strides moving from one leg to the other on the run.
Anchor your band below the door, now pop your foot or ankle into the handle. Face the door but move backwards until the band starts resisting your movement. Keep the core engaged and chest upright (it’s always a good idea to have a wall or prop to steady yourself with) now keep the leg straight, contract your gluteal muscles and extend your leg against the resistance of the band. To go the extra mile, rotate your foot outwards as you extend the leg, to make the most of your gluteal complex. Give it a go, see how you get on.
This gets your whole body worked. From your transverse abdominals, glutes, entirely of the legs and arms and shoulders. A big movement that is full of intricacies – when performed correctly the benefits are huge; it is my secret weapon exercise I never go without.
Anchor below the door, and stand side-on. You will want some laxity with a hint of tension in the band at the starting position, (low down and closest to the door). Start crouched, both feet on the floor, the band in both hands. To perform the movement, explosively stand up and rotate away from the door. Keep the arms straight, so they finish straight, above your head on the opposite side as to where they started. That foot closest to the door? Rotate it outwards (push your heel outwards) to get that extra bit of glute work in there. And then slowly return to the starting position.
The upper body needs to be worked too, and your chest muscles are a solid option. Any run coach worth their salt will tell you to ‘pump the arms’ when fatiguing to help your legs a little. To pull your arms forward the pectorals take charge, and to swing them backwards, your shoulders and triceps are in charge. Pectoral flies work both the chest and triceps, two in one, winner, winner?
Change the anchor position to mid door, or where ever is in line with your chest. Stand with your back to the door, arms outstretched. A handle in each hand, with the palm facing forwards (in fists). Slowly bring your palms to meet – knuckle touch and then slowly return to the outstretched ‘T’ position. Keep the arms straight throughout the movement.
As I mentioned before, the transverse abdominal muscles are where runners generate elastic energy. An important factor in the stretch-shortening cycle and believe me, when you start training your transverse abdominals, I promise you instantly feel the difference; much more efficient!
Keep the door anchor in line with your chest or a little lower if it’s more comfortable. Stand side-on to the door, arms locked outstretched and feet shoulder-width apart. Start with your arms parallel to the floor and the door with light resistance in the band, brace your core and twist your torso 90 degrees away from the door (keeping your hips facing forwards), slowly return to the starting position ready to go again. Remember: Explosive is best here.
So there you have it, a door anchored resistance band workout, full-body for runners. Take this to hotel rooms, friends houses, out in the garden or the spare room. Resistance workouts just got a whole lot easier (and cheaper!)