Runners are notorious for avoiding strength work, but strong glutes are the secret to good race times and lower injury rates.
A big glute max is correlated with faster sprint times in elite runners! It’s one of the largest and strongest muscles in the body; it’s a powerful muscle that helps us to walk and climb stairs, so it’s no surprise that it helps us to run faster.
A weak Glute Max is linked to an increased risk of injuries as well as knee and back pain.It’s main job is to extend the leg, this means lift it straight up behind us, which is exactly what we do when we run. Focusing on building this muscle with specific targeted strength exercises can be an easy way to make us more powerful at striding.
A weak Glute Med is known to cause a hip drop running style which is linked with ITB syndrome and could also cause knee pain. The Glute Med’s main job is stability, it’s great for all runners to focus on this muscle to reduce pain and the chances of injury. If you are trail running it's even more important as it keeps your legs on the straight and narrow when your feet are being sent all over the place on uneven terrain.
Creating a strength work programme that looks at building the Glute Max and Glute Med could not only help protect you from injuries and reduce pain, it could also make you a better runner. According to a 2019 study, a 6 week training programme focusing on glutes and core could improve your 5km run times.
Generally runners hate to do strength work, but just 13 minutes of strength work focusing on glutes and core, three times a week is enough to improve your running.
Here are my top three glute exercises for runners:
Stand with feet hip distance apart
Place a band around the feet to help activate the Glute Max and Glute Med
With a slight bend in the knees shift the bum backwards and down as if there was a bench behind you
Return to standing and repeat
10 - 15 reps
Lying on your side, prop yourself up with one elbow
Bend your knees, allowing your lower leg to support you as you raise your hips
Lift your hip up off the ground
Lower the hip in a controlled manner, without resting on the ground
Repeat for 10 - 15 reps and repeat on the other side
To progress this exercise straighten your legs and balance on the side of your foot as you raise your hips.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor
Lift your bum up off the floor keeping your upper back and feet still (don’t squeeze)
Hold for a count or two
Return to the starting position and repeat 10-20 times
To advance this exercise repeat this exercise with one leg elevated and one leg on the floor
Editor's Note: Laura is our resident (though remote) running expert having competed in numerous road races as well as an Ultra Marathon 50km in New Zealand. She has worked with many of our clients to help them improve their running through strength and style. She is currently enjoying some time with her partner Matt and son Jude, visiting family in the UK and US. She continues to work with us remotely and we look forward to her return in a year or two.