Work in these five moves before your run to get faster and stay injury free.
Seven minutes can be an eternity – for a runner, at least. That’s enough time to bang out a 1600m repeat, ice a cranky knee, or boil water for pasta. And now, it’s also enough time to squeeze in a strength-training workout.
We created this seven-minute routine for busy runners who like to spend their time running, not lifting dumbbells. It targets muscles that’ll give you the biggest payoff in the least amount of time – no gym membership necessary. This workout is meant to be a pre-run warmup since it “wakes up” your glutes and your core (the muscles of the stomach, back, and hips). “When you perform these exercises, you’re telling your brain to switch on the muscles that need to fire while you run,” says Rachel Cosgrove, triathlon coach, Ironman triathlete, and author of The Female Body Breakthrough. “Strengthening these areas means that each step you take will be more powerful and stable, which makes you more efficient, faster, and less likely to get injured.”
Because each exercise works multiple muscle groups, you’ll also see total-body benefits – in your shoulders, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves.
1. Reverse Lunge for 1:30
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Take a step backward with your left foot and lower yourself down into a lunge position – your left knee should almost touch the ground and your right thigh should be parallel to the ground. Keep your back straight and make sure your right knee doesn’t extend past your toes. Return to the standing position, then step backward with the other leg. Do 12 to 15 lunges on each side. To make this more challenging, you can hold dumbbells.
2. Single-Leg Hops for two minutes
Stand on one foot in a small imaginary square. Hop a foot or two forward to the top left corner of the square, then a foot or two to the right, then to the back right corner, then to the left. Go six times around and then switch legs. If that’s too difficult, hop forward and back – 12 times on each leg.
3. Single-Leg Reach for one minute
Balance on your right leg with your left foot a few inches off the ground. Bending at the hip, reach for your right foot with both hands. Your left foot will come off the ground behind you. Do 12 to 15 on each side. Hold dumbbells for a greater challenge.
4. Plank With Alternate Leg Lift for one minute
Get into plank position – toes and elbows on the ground (elbows directly under your shoulders) with your back straight and your abdominals tight. Lift your left leg up off the ground and hold for two seconds. Return to the ground and repeat with the right. Do five to eight on each side.
5. Y Squat for 1:30
Stand with your arms extended up and out so they form a Y. With your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, sit back and lower your body. Go as low as possible without allowing your back to round. Squeeze your glutes and push yourself up to the starting position. Do 12 to 15 repetitions.