Beginner Strength Exercises for Running


When I first started running, I had little previous strength training and suffered multiple injures.

I am still in the beginning of my running career, but have moving beyond the initial injury phase and lack of strength.

You cannot build strength on dysfunction

Running is a repetitive motion, and does require body strength! It is not just a “cardio exercise”. To hold the proper form, your body needs certain muscles to be active, engaged and firing, otherwise suffering an injury or repetitive stress fracture or chronic injury is inevitable.

Injury occurs from a breakdown in mechanics

With that said, running is not difficult to learn. We learned how to run as children, along with 5 other primal movements we learned and perfected as babies. These 5 movements are the foundation to strength and are necessary to hold form while running. Performing these exercises, three times a week will help build strength, correct imbalance and improve posture to start a running training program, or improve the one you already have.

The 5 Primal Movements:

  1. Squat
  2. Lunge
  3. Upper body push
  4. Upper body pull
  5. Gait

Each of these movements can be progressed or regressed for each individual. 


The squat is the most important primal movement and should start with body weight and can progress to weighted, unweighted overhead squat and weighted over head squat.

When performing the squat, make sure that the knees are not collapsing inward and the core is engaged. The feet should be shoulder width apart.

Lunge or Hip Hinge

The lunge can start as a stationary lunge, move to a walking lunge or a backward lunge. Adding weight will make the exercise more difficult.

The bases of this movement is the hip hinge. Good mornings are also a good exercise to add in. With both of these exercises, focus on hinging the body at the hip joints, rather than the low back. While performing lunges, watch the feet, are they balanced? Do you need to really bend over to get out of the lunge? If so, regress the lunge to an easier version until you can perform the lunge with proper form and strength.

Upper Body Push

The push up is a primal movement. The push up has many different variations and can start from a wall push up, an incline push up, knees on the ground under hips, knees on the ground behind hips, full push up, and decline push up.

While performing the push up, make sure your elbows are alongside your body and that your arms are not pointing out to the sides. Make sure you squeeze your glutes and core and your body moves in one segment; rather than movement starting at the shoulders, and being followed by the core. If you cannot perform the push up with proper form, regress the push up until you can.

Upper body Pull

The upper body pull is the pull up. The pull up can start as a lat pull down until the individual can successfully pull their own body weight, then move to static body weight holds on the pull up, then progress to the pull up, and add weights to make it more difficult.


The gait exercise is also known as farmer walks. While holding dumbbells in each hand, the individuals walks across the room. While performing this exercise, look at the shoulders and see if one is drooping. Watch the hips, and see if they are swaying to one side. Look at how the feet are hitting the ground and if the hip, knee and ankle joint are stacked on top of each other. This exercise is harder to see imbalances, but is still important.

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Over and over in the Bible, God compares our walk with Him as a race.

So train to run your best physically and spiritually!

  • Run the race marked out for you!” -Heb. 12:1
  • Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!”-1 Cor. 9:24
  • I don’t run aimlessly. I don’t let my eyes drift off the finish line.” -1 Cor. 9:26

In this race of life, we do not compete against one another. We are in a race against the distractions and lies of the enemy who would love to keep us from being effective in God’s kingdom.

Are you running distracted? We have the BEST coach, the Holy Spirit.

Every follower of Christ is in their own personal race with Him!

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