If you're an advanced runner, you no doubt already have a strength-training routine. You wouldn't be advanced if you didn't! But if you’re tired of the same old moves at the gym and want to shake things up a bit, it may be time to ditch the machines and grab a pair of dumbbells. Taking on new moves with free weights can be just what you need to improve your times and pace and give you the extra strength you need for peak performance.
Core stability is the single most important area for runners when it comes to strength. Because you spend so much time on your feet pounding out repetitive motions, you have to have a strong midsection if you want to keep everything in proper alignment. If you don’t, you’ll run the risk of common overuse injuries such as IT Band Syndrome and tendinitis — neither of which do you want.
One of the best dumbbell exercises for core strength is the weighted bridge. As one of the most effective moves for strengthening glutes and hips, bridges can be taken to the advanced level by adding dumbbells to the pelvic area and performing the move as normal.
Did you know that many runners are hamstring-dominant, meaning they don’t engage their glutes when running? That’s why competitor.com included single-leg deadlifts in their top four strength moves for runners. Perfect for building powerful glutes, these simple, dumbbell-toting moves can help you learn how to properly engage your glutes when you’re out on the road, which helps increase your efficiency and power and, of course, reduces your risk of injury.
As an advanced runner, you want the most out of your legs, and weighted squats are effective at maximizing their potential. By working the quads and glutes, these dumbbell exercises can be performed with the weights either on your shoulders or held directly in front of you at chest level. As one of the must-do exercises for runners, weighted squats should be performed in three sets of eight to 12 reps, according to Fitness Magazine. Start with a comfortable yet challenging weight and increase it as you get stronger.
One-Arm Dumbbell Snatches
While most runners neglect their upper body, as an advanced athlete, you probably don’t. That’s why you’ll know that one-arm dumbbell snatches aren’t a joke when it comes to increasing running performance. Because your arms help you maintain good form on the road, you need to spend time developing their strength. With one-arm dumbbell snatches, you’ll do more than that, though. You’ll be treated to a combo move that also strengthens your hamstrings, glutes, back and shoulders. According to competitor.com, it’s an effective way to help improve coordination between the upper and lower body.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.