QT: FAQs About Strength Training for Runners (Vol 3)

So, you still want more strength training conversation?

You asked for it, you got it!

In case you missed the earlier editions of strength training FAQs for runners, feel free to go back in the archives and check those out.

For your reference:

The first FAQ episode covered many of the basic questions associated with scheduling your strength training workouts around your runs. And in volume two, I did a little myth busting about strength training for runners.

In today’s strength training talk, I’m covering several do’s and don’ts related to your incorporating strength training into your routine.

Strength Training Do’s and Don’ts

You know I’m not one for one-size-fits-all advice.

That said, here are a couple of things that you would do well to keep in mind about strength training.

Worst Strength Training Exercises

When it comes to strength training, there are just some exercises you should not be doing.

Hands down, the worst exercises for anyone other than bodybuilders, and this includes us as runners, are isolation exercises.

Not sure what isolation exercises are?

Basically, isolation exercises are exercises that work only one muscle/muscle group by locking down any and all movement except for the one joint that is activated by the one muscle that is being targeted.

Make sense?


That’s far. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Leg extensions.
  • Leg/hamstring curls.

It’s easy to think that these exercises are good for us as runners since they are working our legs, but these exercises suck.

Why? Because they are far from functional!

When you run, you aren’t locking down everything but your knee.

So when you’re strength training, the more joints/muscles you can incorporate into the exercise the more functionally beneficial the exercise is!

Best Strength Training Exercises

Not sure what exercises you should spend your time on when it comes to your strength training?

Honestly, you have almost infinite options.

Just avoid the iso exercises, eh?

So if you’re not going to to do the leg extensions/leg curls, what are you going to do instead?

The best strength training exercises are often also the most functional. So target the exercises that work multiple muscle groups and result in multiple joints moving simultaneously.

Squats and lunges (and their variations) are great.

Push and pull exercises are also great for the upper body.

Deadlifts. Planks. Bridges. Clams. Fire hydrants.

Those are all some good options as well.

Mixing Up the Strength Training

Once you get a good strength routine going, you should just stick with it forever, right?

If you keep doing the same strength training exercises with the same amount of resistance, eventually your body will adapt to the challenge and cease to get stronger.

So, from time to time, in order to continue to benefit from strength training, you need to change up what you’re’ doing.

Not to mention, just doing the same 4-5 exercises forever is just fricking boring!

So, from time to time, it’s a good idea to shuffle the deck a little bit.

But what does that really mean?

Should you change up your exercises monthly? Weekly? Daily?

You can change up your routine about as often as you’d like.

Basically, anytime the exercises don’t seem to be challenging you or the routine gets boring, that’s when it’s time to change things up.

Otherwise, it’s up to you whether you want to keep on keeping on or go ahead and shuffle the deck.

When to Skip Strength Training Altogether

Is it every appropriate to just pull the plug on strength training completely?


If you’ve got a big race coming up, within the next week or so, there’s not much reason to do any substantial strength training.

So when you’re tapering, go ahead and back off the strength training.

Likewise, if you’re really sore coming off of a hard race or workout, doing some strength training could just prolong the recovery process.

The Most Important Do

When it comes to strength training, the most important do is simple:

Do It

There are too many benefits to regularly doing some strength training, both in your running and for your overall health, to keep avoiding it.

If you’re not strength training consistently, make it happen.

And if you are? Then keep on keeping on.

Do's and don'ts when it comes to strength training for runners. #runchat Share on X

What Strength Training Questions Can I Answer for You?

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