There are several keys to becoming the best runner you can be. One of them is to make sure that you’re spending a good amount of time running.
But another way is to make sure that you’re doing some cross-training as well.
Typically, when runners think of cross-training, they think of cycling, swimming, weight lifting, or another sport. However, using resistance bands is another great option for runners. This simple, unsung hero of a workout might be exactly what you need to up your running game.
Not only are resistance bands super-easy to carry around if you travel a lot, but they also will work plenty of muscle groups.
If you’re interested in learning more, this article will help you out.
We’ve included a variety of workouts at the end that you can try with your new resistance bands.
Why Should I Do Resistance Band Workouts as a Runner?
First, unlike a gym membership or other equipment, resistance bands are very affordable. You can get them for around $10, or if you want something more high end, you could spend over $50. In any case, resistance bands won’t break the bank.
Second, because resistance bands are small and light, they won’t take up much space in your home, especially if you live in a small apartment. They’re be easy to take anywhere if you have to travel a lot.
Third, it’s important to make sure that you get good quality resistance bands with flexible latex to get the best workouts out of them. Unlike other equipment, resistance bands can be used for a total body workout.
In addition, they are great for multi-joint exercises and helpful if you’re coming back from an injury because the workouts are typically low-impact.
Finally, they can provide a great way to practice your running form like kicking up your heel.
What are Some Resistance Band Exercises?
Now that you have an idea of why resistance bands are becoming more popular and are a great option for cross-training as a runner, let’s discuss some ways you can use them.
Research suggests that after using bands on a regular balance, your balance and flexibility will be improved.
It’s also a great workout for any fitness level—whether you’re new to running and/or working out or not—so let’s get started.
For Large Muscle Groups Like Your Lower Body and Legs
Running requires a lot from your lower body and legs. Weak glutes especially are a problem for runners, so it’s important to make sure that those muscles are targeted.
Try some of these exercises to make sure that you’re in good shape for running!
Lateral Banded Walk
Start by placing one band (or two if you’re more advanced) on your lower leg just above each ankle. Make sure that your feet are shoulder-width apart. Make sure that the band is nice and taut, but not stretched.
To activate your gluteus medius, get into a half-squat position, making sure that your feet are in line with your shoulders. Shift your weight on one leg and step sideways with the other. Move in and out with this other leg for 8-10 reps, making sure that your hips stay level.
Ideally, you’ll work up to doing 3-5 sets of 8-10 reps with that one leg. Then swap sides with the opposite leg and do the same amount of reps and sets with that leg. This exercise is great for working your hips.
Begin by placing your feet through the loop of the band and pull the band up to just above your knees. Make sure that there is a little bit of tension in the band and that your feet are shoulder-width apart.
As you start the squat, your feet should be flat on the floor. Slowly lower yourself down into a squat. Make sure that you keep the tension in the band as you bend your knees. As you come back up, press your knees outward just slightly to help keep the band in place.
Do another nine reps of this exercise and work up to whatever number of reps and sets feels comfortable to you. This exercise will work your glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
Loop a band around your ankles and get into a forearm plank position. Make sure that your shoulders are over your elbows and that your core is engaged. There should be a straight line from your head to your heels.
Lift your right foot straight up about 12 inches, and then return to the starting position. After completing 10 reps on the right side, switch to the other side. Try to complete 3-5 sets of 10 reps each. This exercise will work your core, glutes, and hamstrings.
For Targeting Running Muscles
If you want to work the muscles that you use regularly in running, then you’ll want to try these two resistance band workouts.
Begin by placing the band around your ankles, and then balance on your left leg. Adjust your right foot so that your toes are just slightly behind your left foot. Tighten your core and kick your right leg straight back, ideally about eight inches.
Make sure that your knees stay straight and squeeze your glutes tightly. It’s also good to kick up your heels as you would do when running.
After doing 20 reps on one side, switch to the other side. Try to complete 3-5 sets of these exercises. This will work your glutes and hamstrings.
Standing Knee Raises
Secure the ankle strap around one ankle and make sure that you can extend that leg far enough away from a wall or door to be able to stretch it back. Make sure your back stays straight during this time.
Bring your leg forward and up until your knee reaches hip height, and then repeat for a total of 20 reps before switching sides. Again, 3-5 sets for each side is the goal. This exercise is great for working your hip flexors.
For Foot Strengthening Exercises
Finally runners need strong feet, and these workouts will make sure that your feet are in tip-top shape.
Ankle Plantar Flexion
Start by sitting on the floor with your left leg extended. Take one end of your resistance band and wrap it around the ball of your left foot. Hold the other end in your hands. Make sure that you keep your toes flexed.
Push your foot forward while keeping it pointed and be sure to maintain the resistance of the band. Then return to the starting position.
You’ll want to do a total of 20 reps on each side. Aim to complete 3-5 sets of each. This exercise works your ankles and shins.
Find a fixed object that you can loop a resistance band around. Make sure that it will stay secure even when you’re tugging on the band. Once you’ve looped the resistance band, sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and facing the object.
Flex your foot and pull your toes toward you for 20 reps. Switch to the other side and do a total of 3-5 sets. Like the other ankle stretch above, this will work your ankles and shins.
Start by sitting on the floor with your legs out. Make a loop with the resistance band and attach it to a fixed object that won’t move when you move. Place one leg inside of the loop and turn your ankle inward against the resistance of the band.
Make sure that your knee stays steady and you aren’t rotating your leg to complete the motion. Again, do 20 reps on each side x 3-5 sets. This exercise is great for strengthening your ankles and feet.
This exercise is the opposite of the previous one. Loop the band around the outside of one of your feet and make sure you are able to hold both ends of the band or attach one end to a fixed object.
Make sure that there is some resistance in the band whether you’re pressing your other foot against the band or it is attached to a fixed object.
Make sure that the leg stays straight as you push that foot against the band and away from your other foot. Your leg should not rotate. Complete 20 reps on each side and 3-5 sets. This will work your ankles and feet.
If you’ve never used resistance bands before, now is a great time to start. Not only will you not have to worry about cost, but you’ll also be able to get in an excellent cross-training workout no matter where you are.
You can work anything from your ankles and feet to your core, glutes, and hamstrings, giving you the ability to do a full-body workout from anywhere—whether you’re at home or on vacation.