Lace up—for the first time or the thousandth—with these smart exercises.

By Amy Brightfield
Updated December 19, 2019

Regardless of whether you're gearing up for your first road race or simply want to be more fit, these moves from Scott Carvin, coach at the Mile High Run Club, work the muscles that keep you balanced and strong as you run. Grab a pair of 5-lb. dumbbells and a bench (stairs or a Bosu are good stand-ins), and try this simple strength-building routine at home or the gym.

Image courtesy of Getty.

Step Up

What it does: Strengthens glutes and hamstrings to help push off smoothly with each step.

Place your left foot on a bench or step that puts your knee at 90 degrees. Hold a pair of 5-lb. dumbbells at your sides. Keeping shoulders and hips aligned, lift right foot onto the bench, then slowly step back to the floor. Do three sets of 10 reps per side.

Single-Arm Row

What it does: Builds strong back muscles to keep your torso stable as you run.

Place left knee on a flat bench and left hand on bench directly under shoulder. Hold 5-lb. dumbbell with right arm, extending it straight down, palm facing bench. Keeping abs engaged, head in line with spine, and elbow straight back, lift right elbow toward your ribs. Lower arm. Do three sets of 10 reps per side.


What it does: Develops a stronger butt and thighs to move faster and protect knees and hips.

Stand with feet hip-distance apart, arms crossed in front of you, elbows out. Keeping your weight over your heels, bend knees to about 90 degrees, as if sitting back into a chair. Hold one count, then return to start, squeezing glutes as you stand up. Do three sets of 10 reps.

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