Top 3 Strength Training Exercises for Runners

First and foremost, if you’re a runner and you’re not strength training you need to start.  This in and of itself could be an entire blog article.  But here I go with the synopsis. 

Strength training will indirectly help you run longer and faster.  Strength training exercises can improve your running mechanics, so that you run more efficiently.  Efficient running mechanics will lead to less wasted energy with each step and less injuries. 

Think about it.  You will take 80 to 90 steps per foot each minute you run.  If you have muscular imbalances that lead to joint mobility or stability issues you will move through an improper range of motion with each step. 

When you run for 30 minutes you take 2700 steps with each foot for a combined 5400 steps.  That could be 5400 steps of feet rolling in, rounded shoulders, wasted side to side movement or just pure pain.  Needless to say, when you are an endurance athlete it’s important that each step and every workout is adding to improved performance not to injury or fatigue.

The key to becoming a better runner is consistency.  For most runners, injuries are the biggest disrupter of consistent training.  Runners get a few good weeks or months of training, and then they are injured.   That means time off, loss of motivation, and a decrease in fitness. 

Strength training with proper form 2 to 3 times a week will reduce the onset of injuries and improve your running form.  Here are my top 3 strength training exercises for runners. 

Bulgarian Split Squat

You will need a bench, chair or stepper to perform this exercise.  Start by doing this exercise with just body weight and then progress.  The progression could include holding dumbbells, kettlebells or a barbell.  You can also make this exercise explosive. 

  • Place the to top of your back foot on.  If you are having a hard time with balance, flex your back toes and place them on the bench.   
  • Stand in a staggered stance about 2 to 3 feet wide.  This should allow your knee to bend while keeping your knees behind your front toes. 
  • Inhale as you begin to bend both knees. 
  • Focus on your back knee pointing straight down toward the ground and your body weight in your front heel.   
  • Keep your front kneecap inline with the 3rd toe of the front foot. 
  • Exhale as you straighten both knees to come back up to standing.  
Start with 10 repetitions on each leg and progress to 15. 

Calf Lowers

Use a stair or a stepper to perform this exercise.  Start by doing this exercise with just body weight.  The progression would include holding a dumbbell in one hand. 


  • Place the ball of your foot on the stair while holding on to the wall or railing.   
  • Rise up on the ball of your foot as high as your heel will go.  Make sure you have weight evenly distributed on all of your toes and that you are not rolling onto one side of your foot. 
  • Slowly, lower you heel back to the starting position.  Try counting 3 to 5 slow counts to ensure you really focus on lowering part of the movement.   
Do 10 reputations on each foot to start.  Work up to doing 20 reputations on each foot. 

Band or Cable Row

How many runners do you see hunched over logging long miles.  This exercise is for improved running posture, which can lead to improved respiration. 

To perform this exercise, use a band or a cable.  This exercise can be done with both arms or with just one arm. 

  • Stand in a staggered stance with relaxed knees.  Make sure your ribs on stacked on top of your hips to ensure good posture. 
  • Grab the handles of the band or the cable in the thumbs up position. 
  • Start the movement by protracting the shoulder blades.
  • Then bend the elbows straight back so that your biceps are close to your rib care.  Keep  your knuckles forward. 
  • To release, begin to straighten your elbows and bring your shoulders back to the starting position. 
Start with 10 repitions and work up to 20.  To increase difficulty, use a more difficult band or more weight on the cable system. 

Here’s to improving your running mechanics so that you can train more consistently.  Can’t wait to hear about the PR at your next race. 

New Track Your Plaque record!

New Track Your Plaque record!

The record for the largest drop in heart scan score (by percentage of starting score) has been held for around three years, with 63% reduction in score.

Well, the longstanding record was broken this week: 75% reduction in score.

At the start, Freddie has disastrous lipid values:

LDL cholesterol 263 mg/dl
HDL 26 mg/dl
Triglycerides 323 mg/dl
Total cholesterol 354 mg/dl

Lipoproteins (NMR) were worse:

LDL particle number 3360 nmol/L
Small LDL 2677 nmol/L

Heart scan score: 732

Interestingly, Freddie had virtually no vitamin D in his body, with a 25-hydroxy vitamin D level that was unmeasurable.

Freddie was miserably intolerant to statin drugs, with even the smallest dose resulting in intolerable muscle aches. That's when his doctor sent him to me.

Because I felt that the dominant abnormality in Freddie's lipids and lipoproteins was small LDL particles, representing 80% of total LDL particle number, we focused his program on correcting this parameter. Freddie's program was therefore focused elimination of wheat, cornstarch, oats, and sugars, along with an eventual vitamin D dose of 20,000 units to finally achieve a 25-hydroxy vitamin D level of 66 ng/ml. No statin drug in sight.

43 lbs of weight loss and 18 months later, a second heart scan score: 183--a 75% reduction.

While the rest of the world continues to insist that coronary calcium (heart scan) scores cannot be reduced, I am seeing records being broken. I add Freddie's experience to the rapidly growing list of people who have not just stopped coronary plaque from growing, but are seizing control and reducing it, sometimes to dramatic degrees.

Comments (19) -

  • Anonymous

    10/27/2010 6:41:09 AM |

    Great news!  Can we get more details on Freddie - age? does he exercise? meal frequency? etc.

  • qualia

    10/27/2010 7:10:56 AM |

    that's rather impressive! did he need/get a vitamin K1/K2 supplement as well, or was the 20kIU D just working fine without additional co-factors?

  • Tommy

    10/27/2010 12:34:31 PM |

    Dr Davis,

    This is interesting and as it relates to me baffling. I see many doing well even with just a little cleanup of their act. Meanwhile I have always been in good shape and eating right, triglycerides below 100 and good cholesterol but still had plaque and ended up with an MI last year. So, I cleared out all wheat and sugar etc, and more recently all grains other than sweet potato. In August my LDL was 74, HDL 46 and trigs 43.  
    Last weeks bloodwork looks like this:
    LDL 98
    HDL 70
    Triglycerides 74
    Lp(a) 4.0
    Pattern A.
    All other numbers good.

    "BUT" In the last month I have also been feeling chest discomfort and burning. My BP has been slightly higher than usual also.I called the doc and he ordered a stress test. This was Monday and now I am scheduled for an angiogram tomorrow. There is another blockage. I am 5'10" and 168 athletic lbs at 53 years old. WTF?
    The discomforts only started since adding more fats to my diet. I only started that about 3 weeks ago though. No grains at all.  But back around July or August I added Coconut oil to my diet. I cook with it and add 2 tbsp to my salad daily. I'm starting to suspect that stuff. Not the extra sat fat from meat and full fat greek yogurt but maybe the coconut oil. How the hell can I be developing plaque? I'm getting really frustrated and beaten down...what more can I do?  The doc keeps saying I'm doing everything right....but genetics.

    I take Vitmin D3 supps, 3 grams fish oil daily.

  • Pater_Fortunatos

    10/27/2010 1:16:08 PM |

    I reallly don't understand what is the equivalent name of this blood test in Romania for Small LDL.

    It couldn't be VLDL, then what could be the one ?
    Thank you !

  • Jonathan

    10/27/2010 1:42:55 PM |

    maybe you should start a blog.  You can post your usual meals and other things and get feed back from the community.  Or you could visit Dr. Davis for a paid visit where he could actually help you as he can't legally practice medicine over his blog.

    I'd vote for too low of cholesterol where you are unable to fight the pathogen that is causing the problem in your veins.  The chest pain could be psychosomatic or a sodium/potassium/magnesium imbalance.  You might also want to up the Omega3 intake to 6 grams, at least, of the actual omega3 (usually around 300mg per 1000mg fish oil pill)  robbwolf has a link under tools for a fish oil calculator.

  • Tommy

    10/27/2010 2:12:36 PM |

    My diet isn't that complicated.
    Morning: Pastured Eggs, Asparagus, 1/2 cup cot cheese, some nuts, ground flax, raw milk. 1200 mg dha/epa. sometimes strawberries.  8 oz Coffee with a teaspoon raw honey.  Vit D supp.

    Lunch:  Large salad (dark green) with raw broccoli, tomatoes, peppers etc with coconut oil and apple cider vinegar. Beef or bison baked or cooked over low heat in coconut oil in a frying pan, once per week sardines, veggies and a banana,600 mg dha/epa. 8 oz coffee, no sweetner.

    Dinner: Baked chicken breast (last 3 weeks with skin) or beef if I've  had bison for lunch, veggies and a sweet potato-plain, an orange. Sometimes some nuts....6 almonds.  1200 mg dha/epa

    snack before meds at night: greek yogurt (recently switched to pastued/raw) a tablespoon raisins.

    If I get hungry between meals I'll have some almonds...about 6-8 or walnuts raw, strawberries.

    I also include a protein shake once and awhile of raw milk and whey powder (no fat/no carbs powder). If I do I cancel the breakfast milk. I only drink 8 oz per day. I may be going to relace the cot cheese with the shake in the near future.
    I also have salmon every few weeks.

    That's about it. Potassium and mag are ok. Thyroid also.

    That's about it.

  • Anonymous

    10/27/2010 3:30:19 PM |

    Hi All,
    Please take a look at the latest blog of "The Healthy Sceptic" regarding fish oil!  May make us all rethink how much fish oil we take daily.

  • qualia

    10/27/2010 3:41:02 PM |

    what was your last CRP, vitamin D and homocysteine level? how is your general energy? do you feel less energetic after eating certain meals or foods?

  • stcrim

    10/27/2010 4:55:07 PM |


    This isn't the whole answer - but - don't take your Vitamin D anywhere near fiber.  Also, as wonderful as milk is, it's fat and sugar combined, not unlike  Twinkies.  There may be some other things you have hidden in your diet as well.


  • Anonymous

    10/27/2010 5:05:12 PM |

    Dr. Davis:

    Can you verify for us the protocols under which both CAC scoring scans were done?  The equipment used on each, the scanning protocol, type of software used, whether the same radiologist scored both tests, etc.?

    While you mention that Freddie's serum D was raised to 66 ng/ml with supplementation and that he experienced tremendous weight loss, and you also mention the absence of any statin, to what do you actually attribute the rather outsized decrease in CAC score?  Possible error or scan variation?  Different equipment?  Or?   If not any of these, then what do you think was the mechanism of action causing the change in score?

  • Sara

    10/27/2010 5:49:15 PM |

    Think about joining TYP. Lots of info on the forum alone that would help you.

    Consider an NMR to get your particle number.

  • Anonymous

    10/27/2010 6:43:32 PM |

    great work dr davis.

    regarding your previous articles on thyroid i discovered ferrous ascorbate helps with thyroid functioning too.

    off topic but i was excited to report this discovery. please check it out yourself!

  • Anonymous

    10/27/2010 6:53:31 PM |

    Tommy, you mentioned before stress, anger, and sleep issues - that's probably where you need to focus.  Also, have you always had the low carb diet you have now or is it more recent?

  • Tommy

    10/27/2010 7:06:36 PM |


    That was last year I sleep good now; 7.5-8 hrs and more on weekends. My energy levels are usually great. Stress? That I don't see going away anytime soon.

  • Dr. William Davis

    10/27/2010 8:27:58 PM |

    Hi, Tommy--

    Sara beat me to it: Yes, join our discussions in Track Your Plaque, particularly our Forum discussions. Your very serious questions really cannot be fully considered here. The Forum will yield lots of helpful feedback.

    There may be an Apo E4 issue here, for instance. Another possibility: postprandial abnormalities.

  • Fred Hahn

    10/28/2010 12:51:30 PM |

    Doc - you need to get on TV.  I'm going to make some calls...

  • Dacia_Felix

    10/29/2010 11:52:10 AM |


    In Romania small LDL is not measured, as far as I know. I checked the Synevo website and they don't do it. VLDL is a precursor of small LDL.

  • blogblog

    10/31/2010 7:37:50 AM |

    Anaonymous said: "Hi All,
    Please take a look at the latest blog of "The Healthy Sceptic" regarding fish oil! May make us all rethink how much fish oil we take daily."

    'The Healthy Skeptic' is an acupuncturist and promoter of alternative therapies. He obviously don't understand the meaning of irony.

  • lala

    11/17/2010 3:10:40 AM |

    Thanks for your post and welcome to check: here.