Zenith Performance Physical Therapy


Discover the Benefits of Performance Physical Therapy and Strength Training for Runners Beyond Planks and Calisthenics

January 14, 2024

For runners, the road to new PRs extends beyond just the miles logged on the pavement. While pounding the pavement is essential for building cardiovascular endurance, integrating strength training into your regimen can take your running to new heights. Let’s delve into the transformative benefits of strength training for runners and outline a strategic approach to incorporating it into your routine like we do at Zenith Performance!

The Importance of Strength Training for Runners:

1. Injury Prevention:

Running places repetitive stress on specific muscle groups and joints, which isn’t inherently an issue, but there’s a limit to further adaptations without further training stimulus. At a certain point of repetition, the cells responsible for reinforcing your bones, ligaments, tendons, and other structures stop responding to your typical running forces. Strength training helps correct muscle imbalances, enhances stability, and fortifies connective tissues, reducing the risk of common running injuries such as shin splints, IT band syndrome, and stress fractures. As a bonus, it opens up endless potential for progressing the threshold force needed to make long-lasting improvements to bone density in the legs, hips, and pelvis.

2. Improved Running Economy:

Strength training enhances neuromuscular coordination, resulting in improved running mechanics and efficiency. A stronger core and lower body contribute to better posture, stride length, and overall running economy, enabling runners to cover more ground with less effort.

3. Increased Power and Speed:

The explosive movements involved in strength training, such as plyometrics and sprints, boost muscular power and speed. This newfound power translates directly to improved sprinting ability, enabling runners to kick into high gear during races or challenging terrain.

4. Enhanced Endurance:

Contrary to common misconceptions, strength training doesn’t bulk up runners; instead, it enhances muscular endurance. Building strength in key muscle groups allows runners to maintain good form and sustain their pace over longer distances.

Designing Your Strength Training Program:

At Zenith Performance, we evaluate multiple aspects of your physical performance to consider priorities in your strength training.

1. Focus on Core Strength:

A strong core is the foundation of efficient running. Incorporate exercises such as loaded carries, deadlifts, back extensions, and more to build a stable and powerful core.

2. Leg Strength and Stability:

Target major muscle groups in the legs, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Squats, lunges, and calf raises are excellent exercises to strengthen these areas and improve overall stability.

3. Include Plyometrics:

Plyometric exercises, such as skipping variations and bounding, enhance explosive power and agility. These dynamic movements simulate the demands of running and contribute to improved performance.

4. Don’t Forget About Mobility:

Combine strength training with a regular stretching routine to maintain mobility under load. We always favor lengthening muscles while under load, like in split squats and Reverse Nordics.

5. Consistency is Key:

Aim for two to three full-body strength training sessions per week, gradually increasing intensity and resistance over time. Consistency is crucial for seeing long-term benefits. We love to program circuits to maximize benefits while minimizing time investment so you can get on with your running program!

Sample Strength Training Routine for Runners:

1. Warm-up:

Start with 3-5 minutes of light cardio, followed by dynamic stretches and your chosen big movements of the day (squat, deadlift, presses, etc.) to prepare your muscles in a full range of motion for the upcoming workout.

2. Strength Exercises:

  • Primary Lift: Deadlift 5×5 at 75% of 1 Rep Max (Or 7-8/10 effort)
  • Then a circuit:
    • 3 rounds for time
    • Step up to 20” box x5/side, add weight to make it feel like 8/10 effort by the last rep
    • Reverse Nordics x10 (band assistance as needed)
    • Split Squat Jumps x5/side
    • Star Planks x10-12/side, add a band around the knees to increase the challenge


Strength training is the secret weapon that can elevate your running game to unprecedented levels and keep you in the sport for decades. So, lace up your running shoes, hit the weights, and prepare to unleash the power within. Your strongest, fastest self awaits on the road ahead.

Want individualized strength and conditioning programming to ensure you don’t waste time or fall off track of your running goals? Have some nagging pain or injury popping up that holds you back from sticking to your mileage goals? That’s exactly what we’re focused on solving at Zenith Performance Physical Therapy. Call or text us at 562-502-1767 to schedule a free phone consultation and come in for

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