If you're like me, you probably like to go out for a run. But you don't necessarily want to go drive to the gym to do your strength work afterwards. Or you don't want to run at the gym, drive to the gym, run there, do the strength work, come home. I like to do it after I swim because I have to go to the gym for that. But there are days when you're not going to go to the gym. Maybe you don't swim like I do.
Well, there are strength exercises that we can do at home, that are going to be good for us, both in terms of overall body health, and to make us better runners. So, I'm Jesse Funk. And on today's episode of Runner's High, I'm going to give you some strength exercises you can do at home to be a better runner.
So, when we're talking about strength exercises, we really want to think about our whole body. You might be tempted to say well, I run with my legs, I just need to work out my legs. But that is not true. Dispel that myth from your head right now. Now, after I explain this, you're gonna go duh, if you were in that camp, I know you're going to be on my side.
But if you think about this, your legs are moving your whole body, right? That's the duh moment. But if you have a wobbly body up here, from your legs up, it becomes harder to move through space than it's more stiff and controlled. Which is really another way of saying strong and muscular.
So, when we think about strength exercises, we don't want to just focus on legs. Although those are important, obviously, because they propel us through space while we're running. We also want to think about our core, and our arms, that whole upper body section, to have all of those things strong.
So, we don't have rubber noodly arms or really weak core, because the core is what connects legs to the rest of the body. That helps transfer energy so that we go faster, and we're more efficient. Everything goes together. So, the exercises I'm going to give you encompass all of it, both legs, core, and arms. So, don't be reticent to try those other things. They are going to make you a better runner, even if it isn't apparent right from the start.
So, let's start with the first one. This is going to be no surprise to you, hopefully, but it's going to be the plank, good old standard plank. You're going to be in basically what is a push-up position, and then you go down on to your elbows. Now, you can do this in a variety of different ways. You can set this up as sets and go 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off and do that multiple times.
You can try to hold it for a longer period, say a minute on, 10 seconds off, a minute on. It really depends on where your core strength is right now. If it's not great, start with smaller intervals, with larger rests, and work up over time.
There are also variations on this. There's this side plank, which is where we turn over, we're still on our elbow, or on our side. This is gonna work more the obliques in the side section of your abs, your core. But it's important to do these as well.
Now, if you're like me, and you kind of maxed out your time, or you've gotten to the point where it can be several minutes that you're in that plank position, you can do an advanced variation, which is called a walking plank. So, we start in our push up position, like I'm showing you here. Then we go from the pushup position and move side to side. So, first I move one direction. Then I move the other direction, back and forth.
There are two variations here, walking with your hands next to each other. And then also walking with your hands crossing over each other. That's the more advanced variation. The thing is when you do this walking variation that is going to add instability into doing the plank. And that's where all of these exercises really come into play.
Where we're talking about doing bodyweight exercises, bodyweight kind of strength here because we're at home we don't necessarily have equipment like at the gym, so we want to do bodyweight stuff. And when you want to increase the resistance or increase how much power you have to output, you want to increase instability. And that is how you progressing, getting stronger for all of these exercises.
Now, now that we've covered our core, of course, there are more exercises we can do for a core but I'm trying to make this video too long. We want to hit a couple of arm exercises. Now, this may seem like it's even more silly than the core exercises if you're not used to thinking about strength training because what the heck do our arms have to do with running?
But they actually do have some propulsion when we are running. So, if you've got noodly arms, you've been running for a while, maybe your legs are really strong, but now your arms are going to tire out. Because we are doing this, this may seem like the most minimal thing. But when you're running for a period of time or you're running hard, your arms actually can fatigue out. So, we want to use them, we want to develop those things.
And our two kind of go-to’s here are basically going to be our regular push-ups and dips. So, push-ups, we can do a bunch of different variations; regular push-ups, wide push-ups, in narrow push-ups. And that's moving your hand position from basically, shoulder width out to double shoulder width, and then in narrow and triangle. Those are all going to work various different sets of muscle groups. They're all working similar muscle groups, but one more than the other.
Out wider is going to work your chest more, in narrower is going to work triceps more. And then from there, you can actually add instability by putting your feet up on a medicine ball or up on the couch being elevated. The medicine ball or a, I want to say a plyometric ball is going to add more instability in the couch because it can move. So, if you have that, again, we're trying to avoid doing things with stuff from the gym or extra equipment if we can. If you don't have that, you can simply go to single leg, just be on one foot. And that's another way to add instability to our pushup.
Now with dips, this is going to be something where you can't add a whole lot of instability, it's a little hard to do a ton at home. But it's hard to target our triceps doing a lot of things. So, this is a good way to do shoulders, triceps, you can just use something like the couch, I sit on here.
You're going to put your legs out in front of you, and then sit on the couch with your hands and dip down so your butt will go down. This is going to be pretty basic. You also have the ability to do it at the gym. Or if you have countertops that are very close together. You can do it that way. But usually, this is going to be the easiest way to do dips at home.
Our last exercise I'm going to show you is a staple. And this is finally we've gotten to legs, you've stayed around to the good part. And this is going to be a duh again, but I want to show you a few variations so you can get some instability going on. And that is bodyweight squats. The reason we're doing all these bodyweight things is because as runners, we want to have a high power to weight ratio. Sometimes under proper supervision, we can use weights as resistance to get stronger.
But there's also the potential of adding too much weight to our bodies slowing us down. It depends on your disposition a little bit, your genetic disposition as to how easily you put on weight, and the kind of weight you're using. But if we just focus on body weight, we know we can add instability and get stronger without adding a ton of weight to ourselves so that we become stronger.
So, when we're doing these squats, I personally like to put my hands up to my head, just gets my arms out of the way. I have these big long gangly arms, gets me out of the way. So, you want to squat, make sure that your knees do not go over your toes when you're squatting down.
You want to sit back like you're sitting into a chair. Sit back, come back up. Just do that. Do several sets of that. When my coach sets me up for strength training, we often do these by time intervals. So, it helps adjust based on my fatigue level. He'll say you have eight sets of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. And then I just do as many as I can with proper form in that time.
Now, there are variations on squats we can do that will add instability and make it tougher. We'll see if I can do these or whether I'm going to be too unstable. It's been a little while since I've done these so bear with me. This is also my rest period when I'm shooting this video so I'm not currently in training. So, the go-to for me is a single leg squat.
If you've not done a single leg squat before, you may want to have a handrail or a couch, something nearby to grab on to just for a little extra stability, until you kind of get stronger so that you can do these. But the big thing here is when you're doing single-leg squat, you don't have the ability to balance on the other leg. So, you have to use all those little muscles in your ankles to stay balanced. And you're forcing one leg to deal with your body weight.
Here's a trick question I often ask new runners. I say how many legs do we run with? Well, they think two. No, we really run with one leg, one leg at a time. That's why it’s a trick question. So, if I ask you that in the future, I hope you know the answer now.
The reason I say that is that if we develop a muscle imbalance and one leg becomes stronger than the other and relies on that one instead of becoming strong by itself, we're going to not be able to maximize our potential. So, by building up to the point when we do these single-leg squats, then we're going to force each leg to become stronger without relying on the other one.
You can move on to the single-leg squats as soon as you're comfortable doing personally, I would suggest at least 50 of those regular bodyweight squats. And again, that's good for shaking. Look at yourself in a mirror if you possibly can, videotape yourself if you don't have a mirror.
Most of us have phones now. Get a friend, have them video you so can look at yourself, all that kind of stuff. You want to make sure all your angles are good. Now, I won't try to go through diagramming all the perfect angles. There are plenty of YouTube videos that will do that. But those are going to be my go-to home exercises.
If you liked this video, and you want more at home strength exercises for runners, let me know, show me some love, hit that like button, leave me a comment. Let me know you want more videos. I'll be happy to show you more of the things that I do, that my coach has me do to get stronger as a runner. I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.