I started accumulating pieces to my own home gym when I moved into my first apartment in college. My home gym was simple enough: a kettlebell, yoga/Pilates mat, and some dumbbells. At some point, I acquired a small resistance band loop, but for years then I barely used it.
After attending the Rise.Run.Retreat and listening to Crystal Seaver extol the virtues of resistance band training for long distance runners. The resistance band doesn’t strain the body as much as heavy weight lifting, but it works on strength, stability, and mobility for the key muscles used in running. I too easily will neglect weight lift as the miles pile up, so I was excited to fish out that little band when I returned home and try it.
Now, that simple little resistance band is one of my favorite at-home strength training tools, along with my Pilates magic circle and my handled medicine ball. The resistance band is my favorite tool for runner-specific core, hip, and glute strength training, because I can use it easily from our apartment rather than having to go to the gym.
You can find resistance band loops in a variety of “weights,” from light resistance to heavy resistance. The band I use for this workout is heavy resistance, but you can use whichever level you have or feels challenging to you. The true genius of this resistance band is that you can do this workout virtually anywhere – at home, your office gym, while traveling, etc.
Whether you run for fun or are training for a big PR, almost all runners will benefit from strengthening their hips, glutes, and core. There’s lots of hype surrounding things that may benefit runners – go Paleo, eat plant-based, train only at low heart rate, do HIIT – so how do you know that hip, glute, and core strength workouts are actually worth your time?
Research indicates that strengthening these muscle groups improves running economy, decreases risk of injury, reduces fatigue during running, and improves running speed. According to a 2009 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, 5K runners who followed a six-week hip and core strengthening routine ran significantly faster times than the control group. Even if you prefer the marathon to the 5K, your running will still benefit from hip, glute, and core strength training.
And who doesn’t want to run faster while staying injury free? I know I do! This short yet effective hip, core, and glute resistance band workout can make you a stronger and faster runner without spending hours at the gym.
Hip, Core, and Glute Resistance Band Workout
Banded Squats: 2-3 sets of 20
The band does add extra resistance to your basic bodyweight squat, but it also helps you keep your form in check. Loop the resistance band around your thighs and then stand with your feet hip-width to shoulder-width apart. Lower down and back into a seated position, keeping your knees over your ankles. Pause, then squeeze your glutes to stand back up to complete one rep.
Lateral Band Walks: 2-3 sets of 20 per leg
Even though running occurs in the sagittal plane of movement (front-back), lateral exercises will improve your stability and strengthen supporting movements. The lateral band walk will improve stability, along with strengthening your glutes and hips.
Proper form is important in this exercise. After looping the band around your calves, lower down into a quarter squat position. Maintain this half squat as you step right as far as you can, pause, and then slowly step your left foot in to complete one rep. Be sure to step on your heel, not just on your toes, to activate your glutes fully.
Banded Glute Bridges: 2-3 sets of 20
Bridges are one of the simplest yet most effective exercises for targeting the hips, glutes, and core. Loop the resistance band on your thighs, just above your knees, and lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor near. Engage your abs and raise your hips up so that your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. As you raise your hips, focus on keeping your hips level. Slowly lower down to complete one rep. Your feet should be just far enough apart that you have to actively resist the band during the whole exercise.
Banded Clamshells: 2-3 sets of 20 per leg
The clamshell may just be the most awkward exercise ever, but it will effectively improve the strength and mobility in your hips and glutes. This is also one of my favorite exercises for activating the glutes, since you engage each glute individually.
Lie on your side with your knees slightly bent and your ankles, knees, hips, and shoulder stacked. Loop the resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees. You can prop up your head in your hand or rest it on your arm on the floor. While keeping your hips stacked, torso still, and your feet together, lift your top knee up. Pause, then slowly lower back down to complete one rep. Perform all of the reps on one side before switching to the other side.
Side Plank with Hip Flexion: 2-3 sets of 30 seconds per side
This exercise doesn’t use the resistance loop, although you could loop it around your ankles if you had a stretchy, light resistance band. This plank variation will strengthen your core and hips while improving your stability. Lie on your right side and then come into a side plank (forearm or straight arm, whichever you prefer). Be sure to keep your hips stacked and navel pulled in to engage your abs. Bring your left knee in towards your hips, extend back out to start, and repeat for the duration of the plank.
What’s your favorite piece of at-home workout equipment?
Do you notice a difference in your running when you strength train?