6 MIN READ
by lululemon editors
Regular strength and conditioning workouts for runners help to prevent injuries by improving muscle strength and activation. The more muscle you build, the less stress you put on your joints. It also makes you faster.
High-intensity interval training – like every-minute-on-the-minute (EMOM) workouts – is a great form of strength training for runners and can be done anywhere, anytime and with minimal equipment. As well as strengthening muscles, the quick bursts of activity improve your body’s ability to produce energy without using oxygen, which then improves your speed.
EMOM workouts mix compound movements and a high-intensity interval format to tax your muscles and your lungs in equal measure. They’ll increase your speed, your power and your endurance. For the maximum benefit, schedule them into your regimen once or twice a week for two months. The format is simple: complete your reps as quickly as you can when the minute starts. When you’re done, you have the rest of the minute to recover. Start the next set when the next minute begins.
Three-time Ironman competitor, cross-training coach and former firefighter, our ambassador Ainslie Kehler knows a thing or two about endurance. She’s also a strong advocate for strength training. “If I had focused more on building strength back when I was an endurance runner, I would have had far fewer injuries,” she says.
Kehler sees a lot of imbalances in runners – predominantly over-developed anterior (front of body) strength from pressing in the gym – and stresses the importance of working out the glutes, hamstrings, and core to balance it out. “Building 360-degree strength in the body is key,” she says.
Below we’ve recommended a five-exercise EMOM strength workout for runners. To avoid injury, we always recommend you check in with a trainer to ensure you’re moving with proper form. When you’re ready, go through this sequence four times for a short, sharp sweat. After a few weeks, when that gets easier, progress to six rounds for an extra challenge.
EMOM x 4 rounds
Minute 1: Single-leg squat
Minute 2: Kettlebell swing
Minute 3: Bulgarian split squat
Minute 4: Knee-to-elbow high plank
Minute 5: Rest
Total 20 mins
As with every form of exercise, you should always spend a few minutes warming up first [link to warm-up article]. Do some light cardio or some dynamic stretches to slowly increase your heart rate and activate your muscles.
· Stand facing away from a bench on the right leg and extend the left leg out in front.
· Shift the weight into the right heel and slowly lower to the bottom of a squat with control, touching the bench.
· In a fluid, controlled motion, drive through the right heel back to standing position.
· Perform 8 reps on each side.
Tip: Keep the extended leg engaged the entire time to work both legs simultaneously.
· Stand with a kettlebell between the feet.
· Keeping a flat back, hinge from the hips to lower the upper body and pick up the kettlebell, then return to a standing position.
· Keeping a slight bend in the knees, swing the kettlebell back between the legs, and then out in front to shoulder-height by contracting your glutes.
· Perform 14 reps.
Tip: Use the hips, not the arms, to swing the kettlebell out in front in one fluid, explosive movement.
Tip: If you’re new to strength training, start with a lightweight kettlebell and focus on maintaining good form. When you feel ready, you can start to ease into heavier weights.
· Stand two feet in front of a bench, facing away.
· Rest laces of the left shoe on the surface of the bench.
· Lower the body in a lunge so the left knee almost touches the ground and the front thigh is parallel to the ground.
· Return to standing position.
· Perform 8 reps on each side.
Tip: Make sure the knee on the front leg doesn’t extend past the toes. If it does, take a larger step away from the bench.
· Come into plank position with the shoulders stacked over the elbows.
· Keeping the body in a straight, rigid line, move the right leg so the right knee meets the right elbow, engaging the oblique muscles.
· Move the right leg back to starting position.
· Repeat on the other side.
· Perform 10 reps on each side.
Tip: To really activate strength in this runners’ core workout, make each move slow and controlled.
· Breathe deeply and have a sip of water.
Tip: To make the workout more advanced, skip this rest until the final round.
At the end of this workout, take the time to cool down and include some stretching. Use a foam roller to roll out any tension in the glutes, hamstrings and lower back.