Updated 27 November 2017

The 6 best exercises for new runners

No gym? No problem! These six body-weight exercises will make you a stronger, less injury-prone runner.


We get it: You like to run, not spend hours in a gym. But strength training will help you run your best.

The following exercises will help you build strong, powerful and injury-resistant muscles that will help you power up hills, sprint across the finish and maintain good running form kilometre after kilometre.

Best part of all? These moves require no equipment, so you can do them anywhere.

Try to work them into your routine twice a week on easy run or rest days.


Stand as tall as you can with your feet spread shoulder-width apart. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Pause, then slowly push yourself back to the starting position. Do three sets of 10 reps.

squat, exercise

Watch out for: Make sure your front knee doesn’t extend past your toes. Keep your upper body “tall” – don’t lean forward.   

Make it harder: Turn it into a jump squat. Squat down and then explode up as high as you can and land softly.


Stand with your feet staggered, your right foot forward. Squat down so that your left knee is lowered toward, but not touching, the floor. Lower down to a count of two, and rise back up to a count of two. Repeat on the other leg. Do three sets of 10 reps.

lunge, exercise

Watch out for: Make sure your front knee doesn’t extend past your toes. Keep your upper body “tall” – don’t lean forward.

Make it harder: Do jumping lunges. Step forward with your left foot and lower into a lunge. Jump straight up off the floor, swinging your arms forward and switching your legs in midair, like scissors. Land in a lunge with your right leg forward.


Lie on your back with your knees bent, arms out and palms down. Draw your belly button in, and lift your hips up by pressing your feet into the ground. Contract your core, your glutes, and then your hamstrings in this position. Hold for three to five seconds. Do three sets of 10 reps.

bridge, exercise

Watch out for: Keep your hips level – don’t let one side dip – while raised.

Make it harder: Do a one-legged bridge. Raise one leg off the ground. While keeping that leg in the air, drive through the heel of your other foot, raising your hips and glutes off the ground. Return to the starting position and repeat. Do the same move on your other side.


Starting at the top of a pushup position, bend your elbows and lower yourself down until you can shift your weight from your hands to your forearms. Your body should form a straight line. Contract your abdominals and hold for 60 seconds. If you can’t make it to 60 seconds, hold for 5 to 10 seconds and rest for 5 seconds, continuing for 1 minute.

plank, exercise

Watch out for: Don’t drop your hips or raise your butt. 

Make it harder: Do a rolling plank. Begin in plank position. Then rotate to your left and do a side plank. Hold for 10 seconds, then rotate into a right-side plank and hold for another 10 seconds. Return to plank and repeat.

Mountain climbers

Get into a pushup position. Bring your right knee in, then extend it back. Bring your left knee in, then extend it back. Alternate legs and move as fast as you can while maintaining good form. Do three sets of 10 reps counting right and left as one left.

mountain climber, exercise

Watch out for: Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles. Don't change your lower-back posture as you lift your knee.


Start face down on the floor, with your arms and legs extended out front. Raise your head, your left arm, and right leg about 12cm off the floor. Hold for three counts, then lower. Repeat with your right arm and left leg. Do up to 10 reps on each side.

superman, exercise

Watch out for: Don’t raise your shoulders too much.

Make it harder: Lift both arms and legs at the same time.

This article was originally featured on

Image credits: iStock




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