How Important are Your Non Run Day Sessions

Apr 26, 2022

Body Weight Exercise and Running Performance

New Audio Version Added

There are three simple progressions using bodyweight exercise to improve your running performance. It’s safe, cheap and anybody can do it.

This is an accompaniment to episode two of our Running Logic audio series.

Gyms, weights and trainers can be a scary prospect. If you choose the path of bodyweight training, you may find it is all you need to keep safe, and strong, and improve your running speed. Be it 5km or a marathon, the same sorts of bodyweight exercises can bring your times down, and it’s all out of the comfort of your home.

  • Three phases of training.
  • Isometric.
  • Concentric/eccentric reciprocal movement.
  • Plyometric/calisthenic.
  • Single leg emphasis.

For the purpose of this article, we are assuming a runner with little to no strength training experience, starting from the bottom and working up. Each of the three cycles of training is targeting a 6-8 week period of work. This is to ensure muscle and tendon adaption of loading so that you can really visibly appreciate the benefit of the bodyweight strength that you have added to your programme.

Three Phases of Training

Adding strength to your programme doesn’t have to be difficult or scary. Using three phases of bodyweight training will get you well on your way to picking up those speeds, and being a stronger athlete overall. To introduce strength safely and efficiently, you can start with isometrics, progress to reciprocal muscle training, and then start plyometric and power work.


Isometric exercises are contractions without movement. The best example is a static lunge. One knee on the ground, one knee in front of the body with the tibia at 90° to the femur. Lift your knee off the ground an inch and hold for up to 30 seconds. The goal as always is to work the muscle for two minutes in however many sets it takes you. The same process of static exercise can be replicated in many forms, however, I find the lunge an easy example. With a programme of isometric exercise, you will start to build foundation strength, making your muscles stronger, more resilient and more efficient for exercise.

Reciprocal Training

This is quick and easy. Squats, lunges, push-ups, plank-twists, step-ups. All the exercise where you are completing repetitions of a certain movement is reciprocal training. Your muscle groups work concentrically (shortening) and eccentrically (lengthening) to perform a movement. This progresses you from isometric exercise as you begin to strengthen a muscle through a range of movements. This is probably more enjoyable and more variable as a form of training. After eight weeks of isometrics, and a few weeks of this, you should start to notice the strength and power coming into your running sessions.


This is where the power really begins! Simply stated plyometrics is the ability to get off the ground as quickly as possible repetitively. This is running! The faster you are, the more plyometric you become. It may sound scary but it isn’t. Box jumps, small step hops up and down, and bounding and skipping are a few examples. This gets your central nervous system telling your muscles to work at speed? Move faster, move faster, move faster! Once you get this into your routine, you will be a strong rigid body, bounding across the turf at speeds you didn’t know were possible.

Single-Leg Emphasis 

One thing not to forget! Running is essential hopping from one leg to the other repetitively. Therefore it is essential to work strength from a single leg. It is a single limb activity, therefore that limb needs to be strong and powerful, independently.

And this is how bodyweight training increases your running performance. Each stride is quicker, and each contact with the ground becomes faster. This is the simplest way to improve your running speed, get on and off the ground as quickly as you can!


  1. There are three phases to performing bodyweight strength training.
  2. Isometric to start – holding postures working your muscles.
  3. Reciprocal training – the basics which can be tweaked.
  4. Plyometric – get that body moving quickly!
  5. The importance of a single leg.

Run Strong