Runners: How Often Should We Be Doing Our Strength and Mobility Exercises?

How Often Should Us Runners Be Doing Our Strength and Mobility Exercises?

How many times per week should us runners be doing our injury prevention workouts?

That’s a question that comes my way from time to time, and the short version of the answer is “little and often”.

Let me elaborate…

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As runners, we need to be incorporating regular strength, stability and mobility exercises into our weekly regimes, to help avoid imbalances from developing from the repetitive motion of running.

Building stability and resilience throughout your body as a whole help when it comes to meeting the demands of stressing your body with mile after mile of pounding the pavement.

The idea that these supplementary exercises are an important part of staying injury-free isn’t a new one, still lots of us neglect these workouts in favour of squeezing more miles into a busy week.

Of course, runners need to run. There’s no shortcut to getting the miles in your legs.

However, so often I’m told how: “I only realised I should have been doing more strength exercises once I got injured”.

Sounds familiar?

I hope not.

But I know to many it will!

So, let’s say you’ve got a 20-25 minute routine of specific exercises from the physio which you were given having been injured in the past.

Hopefully you’re back running pain free now. If you are, don’t make the mistake so many runners make, which is pushing these exercises to one side, thinking they’re no longer required.

Instead, think about turning you REHAB exercises into your MAINTENANCE exercises.

You can consider ways in which you could perhaps progress some of the exercises, if they’re getting too easy.

  • Add additional load/resistance
  • Introduce an unstable surface
  • Increase or decrease the pace of the exercise
  • Increase the number of reps and sets

When it comes to the main question at hand:

How many times per week should you be performing these exercises?

I have a simple rule of thumb:

1 x weekly = Not enough

2 x weekly = Maintenance

3 x weekly = You’ll start to see progress

4 x weekly = A great average to aim for during a normal running week

5 x weekly = If you’re doing intensive rehab, or otherwise not running for some reason

If you can aim to perform the exercises your physio has given you on average 3-4 times weekly as a maintenance routine, you’ll be in a great place when it comes to giving yourself a chance to continue running injury free.

If you haven’t got an existing set of exercises to work from, you should perhaps check-out this free programme for runners:

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Last updated on March 26th, 2019.

1 Comment

  1. I would say it depends on so many things.

    Killian Jornet and other mountain athletes doesn’t do much strength and conditioning indoors. Technical trail running and backcountry skiing take care of balance, core and leg muscles. Hiking with a heavy back pack and poles work on posture and spinal strength. Rock and Ice climbing work on overall strength and on upper and lower body equilibrium. If we practiced these sports regularly, mobility and weight training is not necessary. We get into all positions and contract all muscles from all end ranges.

    I have an athlete working in transportation. He lifts and carries heavy every single day. Outside of some dynamic stretching he doesn’t do anything else. His health is excellent.

    Brad Hudson or Canova athletes rely on hill sprints and some core work, but very rarely hit the gym.
    Kenyans outside of some extremely basic body weight callisthenics done daily do no special core routines nor any weight training. However they engage in hard physical labour, daily.

    On the other hand, athletes being seated all day, working on computer, doing uber and other totally sedentary work, yes, should be doing very regular strength and conditioning. Some of them are more suited for bigger 20 to 30 minute daily routines, others do better with workout and mobility snacks doing 1 or 2 exercise repeats every hour. Squats before toilet breaks, pushups, pullups every 2 hours. The couch stretch and balance board drills every 3 hours and much more. Maybe going through the whole body 2 or 3 times a week in total. Like a BB split routine for runners.

    That is for sure, that sedentary athletes cannot skimp on these as glued down muscles lead to low performance and risk injury.

    Thanks for the article

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