Strength Training for Runners: Part 1.

I pinned THIS image from my original strength training for runners post and it is without a doubt, the most pinned image from my blog. It was the simplest image with the simplest strength moves, so I thought I would expand it into more of a series of posts for people similar to me – runners, looking to stay healthy and strong by including strength training (weight lifting) as part of their training regime!

strength training for runners

It’s going to seem ridiculous to categorize my strength training into different body parts, because as runners, we need to focus on training for function and not isolating muscles, but this was the simplest way to lay it all out, and you will come to see that the majority of workouts include full-body moves that not only target the specified body parts, but engage the core, and work multiple muscles.

Part 1: Biceps and Triceps

 I really love working biceps and triceps on the same day because I can do supersets with the first move targeting biceps, and the second move targeting triceps, or vice versa. My goal for my strength workouts is to rest the least amount of time possible. I am not one of those lifters that sits for ten minutes on the bench, taking a bunch of time to rest and get ready for the next set, I do a ton of super sets so that I don’t stop moving and get the best workout in the least amount of time! Here are a few of my favourite moves.

1. Tricep push-down. 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps. I like to use my last set to rep out. If you aren’t struggling with the last 1-2 reps, add another 5-10lbs.


2. Bicep curl. Yep, the basics, but I add variation to mine so that it isn’t so repetitive. I do 8 reps of the lower half of the curl (bring arms from beside your body to parallel with the floor, a half curl), then 8 reps of the top half of the curl (bring arms from parallel to the floor, up to your shoulders, a half curl), and then a final 8 reps of the the full curl. This is a total of 24 reps for 3 sets, so use lighter weight than you would a typical bicep curl. This can be done using dumbbells or a barbell.


3. Triceps kickback. This one needs perfect form to really target the triceps. If you aren’t feeling it in the right spot, and especially if you are feeling it in your back, adjust your form so you don’t injure yourself. Look straight ahead, and don’t let your hips dip to the side. Remember, this is about preventing injury, not creating it! 😉 3-4 sets of 10 reps each side.


4. Low-pulley bicep curls. I find that I can’t curl as much weight using the pulley because of the added resistance but it adds a new dimension to the bicep curl! Keep the elbows in check! 3-4 sets of 12.


5. Triceps dips. I typically do these off of the bench in between the sets of another move. Some variations for this exercise include bent knees to moderate the intensity, lifting the feet onto an additional bench, or adding a weight plate onto your legs for added resistance. You can also do hanging triceps dips in a Captain’s chair if you gym is equipped with one! 3 sets of 10.


6. Hammerhead curls. Bicep workouts are pretty much slight variations of the basic biceps curl. Hammer head curls consist of rotating the forearms so that the dumbbells are pointed towards the ceiling and your palms face in. The curl motion stays the same. 3-4 sets of 12. An alternate exercise would be to do these one arm at a time and focus on lifting that one side with perfect form!


7. Overhead barbell extension. Not moving the elbows is key for this one, and the smallest of controlled movements should really make those triceps burn. If your elbows are in pain, the weight is too heavy. This move requires a barbell for it to be executed properly. Alternate variations of this move include doing it seated, while I tend to do mine lying on the bench. 3-4 sets of 12.


8. Bicep curl with lunge. In effort to get my heart rate up a little higher while completing an upper body workout, I couple arm movements with leg movements. The big muscles in the legs really shoot that HR up, such as this lunge with bicep curl. In a standing position, step back into a lunge while simultaneously curling the arms upwards. Step up into standing position and repeat on the other side. 3 sets of 16 (8 per leg).


9. Overhead triceps extension. I don’t know why I hate these so much, but I always feel like my ponytail is in the way and I have to bend my neck too much to get an efficient triceps workout in. Ugh, the struggle is real. Nevertheless, it is a staple triceps exercise. 3-4 sets of 12.


A few things to consider:

  • Engage your core, not only will it stabilize your body and help you feel it in the biceps and triceps, you will get a great core workout without even knowing it!
  • Being tired by the end of the set is GOOD, being in pain is BAD. Lift lighter to start and progress slowly.
  • If you get bored of an exercise, find a way to reinvent it. Use one arm at a time, use the pulleys or cables instead of dumbbells, add a little more weight and go for 8 reps instead of 12, double the move up with another one and turn a bicep curl into a curl and press, the possibilities are endless.
  • SUPERSETS. My catchphrase at the gym. Don’t sit still, keep those muscles working. Pick a leg muscle and an upper body muscle, and you have a workout with endless supersets!
Disclaimer: While I am certified in exercise theory and group fitness, I am not a personal trainer, I just spend many hours in the gym and have learned a lot from other trainers about form and proper movement. Please consult a physician before beginning a new workout regime and discuss technique and form with a local trainer BEFORE you start lifting… oh, and have FUN with it!


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