Are you looking to improve your personal running record, but don’t know how to go about it? As an avid runner, you’re probably used to long, intense runs every day; while that’s a good way to improve endurance, it doesn’t help make you a faster athlete.
That said, we are here to help you out, giving you advice on what other workouts you should do at the gym to get you into better shape than ever before. Let’s get started!
Before looking for workouts at the gym to improve your running, you first need to figure out just what kind of exercise you should be doing.
There are many different types of physical exercise out there, and here, we break down the top-three categories to consider for your next workout:
Also known colloquially as “cardio,” this type of workout usually applies to long-distance sports like swimming, cycling, walking, and of course, running. Doing aerobics strengthens the muscles used for respiration, as well as reducing the resting heart rate for good cardiovascular health.
However, while beneficial to improving the body’s respiratory circulation, it does not do much to build muscle. That’s why when you are deciding on workouts to enhance your running efforts, cardio exercise is most likely not the best choice to consider.
Many runners might not realize this, but performing strength training exercises is actually an important way to get better at running. It also prevents your body from getting easily injured, especially when you are constantly pounding your feet against the pavement during runs.
Therefore, targeting certain unused muscles such as those on your upper body, as well as reinforcing those you use every day (e.g. hamstrings, quadriceps, calves) will condition you to balance better, as well as push off faster in races.
Also called “cross-training,” this method of exercise is one of the most beneficial types out there, as it combines both aerobic and strengthening exercises into a single workout regime.
In other words, cross-fit exercises are meant to improve overall athletic performance, offering training to enhance balance and endurance that makes it very suitable for runners who want to switch things up in their everyday workout routine.
Now that you know the different types of exercises out there, it is time to put them into practice. The majority of workouts listed below focuses on both strength training and cross-fit exercises, but you should also know that they are to be supplemented with your regular runs, in order to keep your body in consistent shape.
Exclusively used for building muscle, this type of strength training workout requires some time to get accustomed to, so starting small and slowly working your way up is the best way to go about it. This kind of exercise can be divided into two subcategories:
a) Body weight. Workouts such as push-ups, sit-ups, planks, and wall sits are considered body weight exercises, since they do not require any sort of object besides your own weight to do so.
Generally speaking, this type of weight-lifting exercise is good for starting out with,especially if you aren’t used to strength training. It can be done on a yoga mat at the gym, or even at home, thus making it a cheap and versatile workout to perform.
b) Gym machines. Perhaps you are now in better shape to move on to the machines at the gym. There are machines that target certain body parts, so figure out which ones are best for what you need.
Usually when it comes to running, exercises such as hamstring weights, bench presses, and squats are effective for strengthening those core areas. Start small with shorter sets at lighter weights before increasing it to longer sets at heavier weights over time.
For some beginner’s weight exercises, here’s a video:
Also seen as “jump training,” plyometrics is a type of strength-training workout that focuses on the anaerobic (as opposed to aerobic) by providing sudden, explosive exercises to keep the heart rate up and the muscles quick and flexible.
This kind of training is often used for sprinters, since they require fast-twitch muscles to maximize their speed in order to cross that finish line. Hence, workouts such as box jumps, squat jumps, and power skipping are optimal for activating the muscles for improving race times.
For examples of plyometric workouts, here’s a video:
This is a type of cross-fit exercise, as it mixes both strength and aerobic training together for targeting all muscles of the body. They are performed in long sets, often switching off between different weight exercises and runs, hence the term “circuit training.”
Circuit workouts vary from person to person, but they usually begin with plyometrics (e.g. jumping jacks, mountain climbers), followed by body weight activities like push-ups and sit-ups, and then with a quick sprint on the track, before repeating the process several more times.
Since this workout can be especially draining, it is best to limit yourself to it no more than three times a week, in order to let your body recover. You can substitute with weight-lifting and long, easy runs in between the days when you aren’t circuit training.
For an example of a good circuit workout, here’s a video:
Overall, when it comes to being a better runner, it is not only the matter of putting in long distances and hours to get there. In fact, running miles and miles becomes less effective over time, as your body starts to get accustomed to the training, thereby making it harder to get better at the sport.
For that reason, it is good to turn to other workouts that can supplement your runs, for activities like weight lifting and cross training can really help improve muscle power, as well as toning your body.
To repeat what we have been discussing so far, here’s a list for you:
Feel free to ask us any questions by leaving them in the Comments. Have a good workout!
For some ideas on what type of running items you should get, check out the same article we wrote: