Resistance band exercises for runners
Resistance band exercises for runners are a great way to keep strength training when you no longer have access to a gym, or just don’t want to go there for personal reasons.
You can even choose to do them from the comfort of your own home. In a 2017 study, it was found that elastic resistance bands are just as effective as dumbbells when improving multi-joint strength.
Resistance bands help to target the major muscles you use while running, mainly your core, glutes and legs. Strength training is crucial to improve your running form, efficiency and pace. Adding resistance bands to your exercise routine is a simple, low impact way to build strength in the muscles that runners use most.
It’s also worth noting that resistance bands are great if you are coming back from an injury.
Injuries when running normally stem from weaknesses in some of the key muscles, such as the hips, knees, glutes and core. By incorporating resistance band exercises in your routine at least twice a week, you are laying the foundations for your running strength. Strengthening the glutes, hip flexors, core and back will lead to a strong body foundation upon which you can build when training.
10 resistance band exercises for runners
- Lateral Banded Walk
Many runners are prone to feeling like their butt is ‘dead’ during a run. it is a dull ache and tightness that makes you feel like punching yourself in the butt.” To prevent the dreaded “dead butt” sensation try incorporating the lateral banded walks to activate the hip and glute muscles before hitting the road.
Loop a resistance band around your ankles. Starting with the feet shoulder-width apart and the knees slightly bent, take 15 steps to the right, then 15 steps to the left. That’s 1 set. Move slowly, stepping wide enough to feel the band’s resistance, and think about pushing the knees out (rather than allowing them to collapse inward).
Lie on one side, supported by your elbow or with your arm straight out on the floor.
Bend your legs 90 degrees and have the resistance band wrapped around your thighs.
Open your knees to push your top knee towards the ceiling while keeping your feet together. This is the clamshell opening.
Pause at the top before coming back down slowly. That’s one rep.
Your hips should stay perpendicular to the floor throughout the exercise. Do all reps on that side before switching over.
Sets 3 Reps 10-12
- Standing Hip Abduction
It works the hip muscles and the glutes like nothing else. Plus, it also has an element of balance to it, which is great for runners.
Create a loop by passing one handle around a sturdy object and the other around your right ankle, then stand tall with the left foot on the tubing, while holding the opposite handle.
If you have balance issues, then feel free to hold onto a secure object.
Next, while keeping the right knee straight and engaging the core, kick your right leg outward, hold for a moment, then slowly return to the starting position. Please allow for no rotation in the hips throughout the exercise. Instead, keep the focus on using your hip muscles.
Reps 12 to 16 on each side
- Walking Squats with Band
Squats are a great all-around exercise, with the resistance band adding an extra dimension to this classic that works the gluteus max, hamstrings and calves.
Place a mini resistance band around your ankle and stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Lower into a squat position. Whilst in the squat position walk several steps forward and then backwards to the start position using the band to provide resistance as you walk.
After the 30 seconds return to standing and rest for 20 seconds before repeating the exercise.
Sets 4 x 30 seconds with 20 seconds rest
- Dead Bug with Band
Dead bug with a resistance band really works the deep core muscles, challenges core stability, and develops hip strength. This move is very similar to the hip flexor marches, but laying on the ground.
Place the resistance band around the arches of your feet. Lay on the ground with knees lifted above the hips to 90 degrees. Reach your arms straight above your shoulders so they are perpendicular to the ground. Brace your core. Kick your right leg straight to hover one inch off the ground while simultaneously reaching your left arm behind you. Hold for a second and return to start. Switch arm and leg.
Sets 3 x 30 seconds with 20 seconds rest
- Banded Plank
Running speed starts with running efficiency, which starts with a solid core. You’ll feel this spicy plank variation all throughout your middle as the subtle yet effective leg movements fire up the glutes, hips, and hamstrings.
With a resistance band looped around your ankles, get into a forearm plank position with shoulders over elbows and core engaged so body forms a straight line from head to heels. Lift the right foot straight up about 12 inches, then return it to the starting position.
Sets 3 Reps 10 reps each side
Kickbacks are so simple and effective and are great for targeting the back of your thighs and bum.
Loop the band just above your ankle and face a sturdy object, like a chair or wall. Slightly bend your knee and lift your left foot off the ground, driving the heel back in a kickback motion. Hold for a moment at the top of the movement, then lower down and repeat on the same side.
Don’t be tempted to rock forward, engage your core muscles as you lift.
Sets 3 Reps 10 reps each side
- Leg extensions
Lay down on your back. Both legs need to be bent at a 90-degree angle. Wrap the hip band around the middle of your feet (make sure you’re wearing sneakers). Now straighten and extend one leg towards the floor, working against the resistance of the band. Keep the other leg in place. Be sure you have your lower back on the floor.
Pause when your straight leg is as low to the floor as it can go. Bring it back slowly. That’s one rep. You’ll need to keep your feet flexed so that the band doesn’t slip off.
- Ankle Dorsiflexion
If you have a bad history of lower leg pain or shin splints, then dorsiflexion, which is the angling of the foot toward the shin, is a great exercise to bulletproof your lower half against common overuse injury.
Start by sitting on a mat with your knees extended, then wrap the middle of the band around your right foot and grasp the handle. Next, pull your right foot up towards your shin as far as possible, then slowly return to the starting position as soon as you reach maximum dorsiflexion to complete one rep.
Reps 12 to 16 on each side
- Glute Bridge
Place a resistance band around your knees and lie on your back with legs bent. Lift your hips from the floor by pushing through your heel until your body weight is supported on your shoulders and feet. Activate your glutes when in the bridge position.
Open your legs pushing against the resistance of the band. Either hold the position or hold momentarily before returning to the beginning and repeat.
Much like all of these resistance band exercises for runners, the glute bridge targets all of the often overlooked areas runners need to strengthen.
Sets 4 x 30 seconds
Altogether, this a 10-15 minute resistance band routine for runners (and marathoners) that can make a big impact on running. Strengthening the glutes, hip flexors, core, and upper back will lead to more stability and efficiency when running.
This routine is something you can do at home in the evening or as a warmup before a run. Incorporating a resistance band routine will lead to big gains.