The Best 3 Combinations of Running and Strength Training

Two runners after workout

Running is the best way to strengthen your cardiovascular system and improve circulation while building the foundation for other fitness activities. Strength training, on the other hand, develops your muscles, which means that your body burns its fat reserves more effectively. As a result, a combination of strength training and running have the best effect on your performance โ€“ you push your body to a higher level.

Runner doing jumps

Burn fat effectively, boost your exercise tolerance, improve your endurance: What is the right combination of running and strength training to achieve your individual goal?

1. Endurance-strength workout

…for better fitness and fat burning!

The best workout to optimize fat burning is a combination between an easy, aerobic endurance run followed by strength training (e.g. bodyweight training). The endurance run gets your metabolism cooking. Following this with strength exercises for the muscle groups that are not engaged much while running increases and extends the after-burn effect.

An endurance-strength workout could include:

  • Warm-up
    Start your warm-up with an easy 30-60 minute aerobic endurance run. You can do this on a treadmill or outdoors.
  • Strength workout
    Right after your endurance run do a strength or bodyweight workout. Do two to four sets of the following seven exercises: Pull-ups, Squats, Push-ups, Forward Lunges, Superman Pull, Floor Bridge, Russian Twist. You can find these exercises and many more with video descriptions in the Runtastic Results app.
  • Duration
    Do each exercise for 30 seconds and always take a 30 second break between them.

Runners doing strength workout

Good to know:

Your endurance run should be at least 30 minutes. This is the only way to boost your lipid metabolism. There is, of course, no limit to how long you run.ย During your strength training, focus on the muscles that are used less when running. This way you will achieve balanced muscle growth and avoid overloading your legs.ย ย 

  • Cool-down
    A slow 10-minute run is great to cool down.

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2. Bodyweight circuit training for runners

for more stamina and a higher exercise tolerance

A running circuit workout is the perfect way to add variety to monotonous endurance training. The body is confronted with a number of challenges within a very short time, which improves your condition. The increasing lactic acid build up teaches the body to keep working through intense fatigue. You then develop a higher exercise tolerance, particularly for high intensity workouts.

A running circuit training can include exercises for all muscle groups. Integrate all of your surroundings and options into your run: use benches, stairs, walls, and playgrounds for a strength session. Your breaks are while youโ€™re running; this way your body is constantly challenged.

A running circuit training could go like this:

  • Warm-up
    An easy 10-15 minute run is an appropriate warm up.
  • Main workout
    Now do three to four sets of five to six bodyweight exercises: try Push-ups, Squats, Lunges, Crunches or stair sprints. You can find all these exercises and more with video descriptions in the Runtastic Results app.
  • Duration
    Do each exercise for 30 seconds and take a 30 second break between them.
  • Break between sets
    Run for 5 to 8 minutes at an increased but manageable speed in between the strength training sessions.

Runner doing push-ups

Good to know:

Try to do the exercises rapidly. This way you will achieve a more intense interval workout. The running sequences should be easy to complete so you can focus your attention on the strength training.

  • Cool-down
    A very easy 10-minute run is a good way to cool down.

3. Running with workout intervals

…to build up overall endurance

The best combination to increase your running endurance is a run with workout intervals. Run at a slightly faster pace and integrate regular workout intervals. Define the duration and number of your strength-running intervals beforehand and try to stick to the plan. Divide the workouts between your core, upper body, and legs.

Do two sets of 10 to 15 reps per muscle group in each interval. The cumulative workout for strength and endurance forces the body to continue performing even though it is tired. This helps you start developing greater aerobic endurance and strength after just the first session. ย 

How to set up your running-workout session:

  • Warm-up
    An easy 10-15 minute run is an appropriate warm up.
  • Main workout
    Break up your run every 5 to 8 minutes and do a mini circuit training with three bodyweight exercises (one exercise per muscle group).ย 
  • Routine: 2 sets with 15 repetitions per muscle group
  • Exercise suggestions:ย Upper body: ย Push-ups, Triceps Dip, Pull-ups;ย Core:ย  Bridge, Russian Twist, Crunches; Legs: Forward, Side, or Backward lunges, Squats
  • Cool-down
    A very easy 10-minute run is good to cool down.

Runner doing squats

Good to know:

These methods are particularly good for building up your general endurance and strength. The longer the session lasts, the better. But increase the duration of the workout gradually, so your body has a chance to continue developing.ย The focus here is on doing the exercises properly, which is why the intensity should be rather low.

Are you looking for the perfect training plan for your next run? Or do you want to get in better shape with bodyweight training? Get the Runtastic Premium Membership and gain access to all the plans and tools in all our apps!

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Sascha Wingenfeld Sascha, health trainer & active triathlete, has been coaching runners from beginners to professionals for over 10 years. "I love my job and I love running." View all posts by Sascha Wingenfeld »