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Strength Training for Runners - Part 1 | Intro, Posture, Breathing & Muscle Activation

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

Where do you start? Simple – start where you are with what you have. Ok enough of the airy fairy answers, lets talk getting strong for your running. First off – Yes! endurance runners should be doing strength training including weight training (we should be past that discussion by now - If not check out our discussion on the why)

This article is going to take you from the beginning to some more advanced movements. Some of the work will need to be done even before you go out running (or if you’ve already started your running journey, we just need to add it in). So where to begin:-


Good posture aligns your body and reduces the stress placed on muscles and joints, tendons and ligaments. It allows for maximum range of movement efficiency by decreasing joint stress, increasing overall performance and optimising internal organ function and nervous system. Posture has a lot of influence not just in your day to day but in your running too. Consider if you run with rounded shoulders and head forward, how difficult it would be to take a deep breath; it seriously restricts your running efficiency.

Here are a few exercises to start to counter and regain/maintain good upper body posture:


This is kind of a big deal when you run, but it’s amazing how many people don’t breath properly. It’s important to breath deeply through your belly using you diaphragm; this pulls your diaphragm down, expands your lungs more and allows you to take in more oxygen. Nasal breathing increases rib cage and diaphragm engagement. Like any muscle the diaphragm needs to be exercised or it will weaken from under use. How do you practice belly breathing.

Breathing for resistance training:

Anatomical breathing: this is how to breath while you’re exercising in the gym doing something like a kettlebell swing for example. Synchronise your breathing to match the movement of the exercise by exhaling on the on the bend phase of the swing when your ribs and stomach are compressed, and inhaling as you straighten up.

Biomechanical breathing: this is where you inhale on the downward (eccentric) phase of the exercise and exhale on the upward (concentric) phase of the exercise – usually during the latter stage of the concentric phase. As we get more advanced in our weight training we’ll look at more ways of breathing and creating intra-abdominal pressure (bracing you core) to stabilise the spine – no it’s not just tensing your abs….


This refers to getting a specific muscle working. It is important to note here that when you’re exercising muscles are generally activated (otherwise you’d have real trouble staying upright), the issue would most likely be timing. So when you hear someone say ‘glutes not firing’ it’s more of a timing issue which forces other muscles to take up the slack. Below are six drills that are effective in ‘waking up ‘ your muscles before you run.

In part 2 we’ll look at mobility and self myofascial release (SMFR) -->

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