4 Functional Movements to Help Develop and Strengthen Your Lower Body for Running


by Liz Naccarato

As a runner, I never implemented cross training until about five years ago. Once I began adding that functional training into my workout schedule, I found myself becoming a more efficient runner.

Pairing a running regimen with proper functional fitness is equally as important as finding those next best Brooks to run your race in. As runners, we can overload our running schedule without pairing it with strength training. Below are a few of my favorite leg day exercises which can be done at home or in a fitness facilities, and I’ve included the reasoning behind why I believe in them.

  1. Glute Bridges
    These strengthen your glutes, hip flexors and abductors. Have you heard the term pancake butt before? This refers to runners who neglect working on their glutes. Glutes are one of the strongest muscles in our body and when you’re driving that heel to toe into the pavement or trails, it’s important that our glutes are strong enough to support our quadriceps. Often times our hip flexors can become weak if we neglect our glutes, which can result in lower back pain.
  2. Lunges
    These are great tool to be used with body weight or weights. Lunges will help you with coordination, balance and mobility (think tripping over that elevated sidewalk). Driving off that toe in a forward lunge will help strengthen your quads, while driving off your toe in a backward lunge will help strengthen your glutes. Lunges are great for working on hip flexors and your calves will feel the benefit of the perfect lunge position.
  3. Goodmornings
    An exercise that is great for hamstring development and core. While you are hinging your hips forward, focus on driving your feet into the ground and pulling through your hamstrings. You should feel this work all the way from your calves up to your glutes. Always keep your core engaged so you feel those muscles tighten within your core area as well.
  4. Sumo squats
    Another exercise that can be done with body weight or with weights. Taking a wider stance allows you to work your gluteus maximus which is connected to your hips and your quads. As runners tend to have tighter hips, which can be the result of not activating your glutes before a run. Working on that wide stance squat will help open up your hips and will allow better flexibility and a longer stride while running.

Try this quick workout 1-2 times a week and see how it can improve your running.

Do each exercise in a circuit style, four rounds of 10 repetitions.

  • Glute Bridges
  • Lunges
  • Goodmornings
  • Sumo Squats

Always remember to take rest days and seek out professional advice if you are not familiar with an exercise. Your local weight room attendant will be more than happy to show you any of these exercises listed above.

Happy Training!


Liz Naccarato is a personal trainer with education in Holistic Nutrition. She specializes in helping women become strong mentally and physically through fitness and nutrition. She believes in training for a purpose, whether it be with running, cycling, or every day life. To read more about Liz and her services, visit liznaccarato.ca



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