Bodyweight Workout for Runners…or anyone looking for a simple workout

A recent issue of Runner’s World* has a great spread on lifting and glute work. Most runners looking to improve race times or stay injury-free don’t need more mileage- they need more strength training. A strong core, glutes that fire properly and strong-but-nimble hip flexors will definitely make for a better athlete…but what if you don’t have time (or money) for a trip to the gym and don’t have any fancy equipment at home? Good news! You’ve got yourself and you come with your own weight! While weights, resistance bands, and other equipment are an important part of an effective fitness regime, your own bodyweight can provide you with a sufficient workout to activate muscles and build strength in specific areas. Here is a quick workout you can do anywhere, anytime, with no-stuff-necessary:

Warm-up: (5-10 minutes) Walk, jog (in place or around the block), jumping jacks, etc. to get your heart rate up and muscles warm.


Work Out: Complete 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions of each exercise (on each side!!!) with rest in between as you need it. Use a stop watch for the planks and bridge at the end.

Short Version:

  1. Squats
  2. Single-leg Deadlifts
  3. Lunges
  4. Bird-Dog Crunches
  5. Fire Hydrants
  6. Full plank
  7. Side Planks
  8. Glute Bridge

Detailed Version:

  1. Squats
    • Sit the booty back and down, keep the chest lifted, core engaged, don’t let your knees sneak out over those toes!
    • Bonus points for doing lateral (side-to-side) walking squats and/or jump squats in the last set.
  2. Single-leg deadlift
    • Balance all of your weight over one, straight leg while hinging at the hips, reaching towards the ground as the other leg up swings up and back, toes and hips pointed towards the floor…Keep your back flat¬†(do not hunch over) and go nice and slowly, engaging the glutes as your come back to stand.
  3. Lunges
    • Step forward, keep shoulders over hips, and drop until both legs are at 90 degrees. Think about staying tall and dipping down, rather than leaning forward. A small hinge at the hips is okay, but there shouldn’t be any stress on the knee in this move- it’s all about the quads! Explode off of that front foot to come back to stand. I like to alternate legs each time.
    • If you’ve got any kind of knee issue, try stepping BACK into your lunge instead of going forward.
  4. Bird-dog crunches
    • Start in table-top (on your hands and knees); head and neck stay neutral. Engage the entire core and lift your left arm straight out in front of you while kicking your right leg out behind you. Crunch your knee and elbow inward towards each other under your belly. Extend both limbs back out to starting position.
    • Want more booty work? Add a donkey kick at the top of your extension, getting that heel up as high as you can.
  5. Fire hydrants
    • Stay in table-top;¬†head and neck remain neutral. Engage the entire core and lift one knee out to the side, keeping your leg bent at 90 degrees and foot flexed (think dog-peeing-on-hydrant). Bring the knee and leg up to hip height before slowly lowering back down.
    • Bonus points for keeping the knee up and kicking foot out to side, straightening the leg a few times at the end! You may hate me while your tush and hips burn through this move, but you’ll thank me for it later. Promise.
  6. Full (or forearm) Plank
    • Start with your belly on the ground, hands directly under your shoulders. Push up, keeping your shoulders directly over your wrists and gaze out in front of your finger tips (resist the urge to look down or at your abs!). Keep EVERYTHING from your shoulders to your quads engaged. Hold it here!
    • Start with 30-45 seconds x3, work your way up to 90 seconds.
    • Bonus points for adding a few push-ups or plank jacks to the last set.
  7. Side Planks
    • Start in full plank position, shoulders directly over wrists (if you’re on your forearm, shoulder over elbow, arm at 90 degrees). Shift your weight onto one hand and rotate so you are facing the wall. Free hand can hangout on your hip or extend upwards with palm facing out, shoulder retracted down the back. Keep your obliques engaged, hips extended and body in one straight line. Hold…
    • Start with 30-45 seconds x3 each side, work your way up to 90 seconds.
    • Add a hip drop or elbow-to-knee crunches for additional oblique work!
  8. Glute Bridge
    • Start on your back, knees bent, soles of your feet to the floor. Engage your glutes and lift your hips up high. Be sure to squeeze the transverse abdominis (deep, inner core muscle) and keep your neck neutral by untucking the chin.
    • Start with 30-45 seconds x3, work your way up to 90 seconds.
    • Add pulses or march (send one foot at a time towards the ceiling) for the last set to burn out the glutes and core.

Stretch: It’s important to keep your muscles happy by releasing tension that builds up during a workout. Self myofascial release (i.e. foam rolling) and gentle stretching, such as with the moves listed below can expedite the healing process and limit muscle soreness. Hold each of these for 10-15 seconds (on each side). Breathe deeply, moving into and out of positions on the exhale.

  1. Reclining pigeon or standing figure 4 (gluteus maximus/minimus- your bum and outer hip)
  2. Hip flexor stretch (hip flexors- front of groin area)
  3. Runner’s stretch (hamstrings- back of leg)
  4. Quad stretch (quadriceps- front of leg)
  5. Side-body reach (obliques- side of abdomen)

Don’t forget to have a snack with some protein within 30 minutes of completing this workout and drink lots of water throughout your day. Happy lifting!!!



*This issue’s also got an article of NJ’s own Montclair Bread Company owner and running club, Fueled by Donuts founder, Rachel Crampsey. Go grab a copy if you don’t have one yet!



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