Strength Exercises to Increase Running Stride

A few weeks ago I started a series of posts about how to increase your running speed by increasing your stride length.  The first post in the series went over mobility drills and WHY it all starts with mobility…simply put, you need flexibility and full range of motion if you’re gonna get faster.  

Following the post on mobility exercises, I shared three of my favorite drills that you can incorporate into the beginning of your running warm-up that will also help to improve both running form, speed and stride.  

Today, I am going to share three different strength training exercises that you can and should be including into your training routine. 

Strength exercises to incorporate into your training routine that will help to increase running stride, form and speed.

Runners tend to grumble about having to do any form of strength training but truly if you want to become faster, you need to include it in your routine.

Not only does it help with injury prevention but it also helps you to build strength (duh) which translates to more power on the pavement and faster running times. 

Bench Step Ups

Strength exercises to incorporate into your training routine that will help to increase running stride, form and speed.

Step ups are great for developing both the hamstrings, quads and glutes…. talk about a booty burner! I personally like to perform them using the Ultimate Sandbag which also helps to build endurance.  

While you could use dumbbells or kettlebells, I prefer the Ultimate Sandbag due to the variety of holding positions (here it is shown in the Front Load position) but also because of it’s portability. I carry mine to the track, to hills and even to the park which would be the perfect place to do some bench step ups! 😉 

How to perform: Clean the Ultimate Sandbag into the Front Loaded position.  Step one foot up onto a box and step up, squeezing your glutes at the top.  Slowly step back down making sure to maintain control the entire time with both your step and position of the bag.

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One Legged Squats

Strength exercises to incorporate into your training routine that will help to increase running stride, form and speed.

One legged exercises are another great way for developing strength in the hamstrings, quads and glutes.  While you shouldn’t necessarily attempt a pistol squat (as shown above) off the bat, you can certainly work up to one.  

The beauty of the DVRT system (and using the Ultimate Sandbag) is that it allows you to progress so that you can achieve a one legged squat (or pistol squat) if that is your goal.  

How to perform: You can begin by starting out in a staggered stance position working your way toward a split stance and then single leg.  There are also progressions to performing the pistol squat which I have outlined in this post here

Sleds Pulls

Strength exercises to incorporate into your training routine that will help to increase running stride, form and speed.

Another amazing way to develop power is by incorporating sled pulls into your training which translate directly into running strength. 

Sled pulls are great for building acceleration, increased foot contact time with the ground and stride form but the key is performing them correctly in order to gain the most benefit.  Since massive amounts of weight are not necessary (in fact, too much weight will discourage proper running form), using the Ultimate Sandbags new ARES Sled is ideal.  

It’s super portable (can you imagine loading a traditional sled in the back of your trunk) and it comes with everything you need (like the straps) to really encourage proper set up and form. 

How to perform: Maintain a straight posture (not rounded or hunched) at a diagonal angle throughout the entire pull.  Foot placement and knee drive is also crucial.  Be sure to drive through the balls of the feet and land with the foot directly under the hips.  

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Run Hills

Another amazing way to develop power and strength is by running hills.  If you’re in an area where hills are lacking then strength training is a great way to substitute.  Adding this DVRT Hill Workout for Runners  will make mountains feel like mole hills in no time.  Alternatively, if you live in a hilly area and really want to boost your strength and endurance then give this  Hill Sprints and Ultimate Sandbag Strength Workout a try!

So, if you want to put a little extra spring in your running step then include each of these strength moves into your training routine. 

For more tips on how to increase your running stride, check out the other posts in this series: 

You can also check out my Run DVRT Strong eBook for runners that includes 10 strength training workouts designed specifically for runners! 

Welcome to back to our Wild Workout Wednesday link up! Each week I link up with Nicole from Fitful Focus and Jen from Pretty Little Grub to bring you workout ideas, motivation, inspiration and recipes to try. Join us for a wild workout each week by reading along or grab the button and link up if you have a fitness or healthy living post to share!


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About me

Annmarie is a self proclaimed foodie, avid long distance runner and functional fitness coach. A DVRT Master Trainer, HKC Instructor and food allergy sufferer, she writes about strength training for runners as well as shares allergy friendly recipes for busy athletes.   She is also the owner of Strength In Motion Studio, mother of two sassy sisters and wife to a chronically busy chiropractor.   Subscribe by email for updates to get the latest workouts, advice and recipes straight to your inbox!


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angela @ happy fit mama
Reply March 15, 2017

I'm happy to report that I do most of these exercises. Although no pistol squat for me! I need to find an indoor version of the sled. When there's snow on the ground, I pull my kids around in a sled in the same way for a little sprint workout.

Lisa @ Mile by Mile
Reply March 15, 2017

Great info! I need to get back to doing step ups. And I have been working on one legged squats but I am nowhere close to a pistol squat.

Susie @ Suzlyfe
Reply March 15, 2017

ONE DAY i will do a pistol squat. Actually, that is a complete lie but whatever

Reply March 15, 2017

Pistol squats are my nemesis. I try. It's impossible. I need to work on my mobility first.

Reply March 15, 2017

Ugh, I am so challenged by the pistols / one-leg squats . . . but the sled pull, that's fun!

Kimberly Hatting
Reply March 15, 2017

Great suggestions! I do a lot of stair work, but don't typically carry any "extra weight" with me (other than the previous night's dinner LOL)....I never thought of just doing step-ups...maybe with a kettle bell or hand weights (?). My glutes definitely need work!

Kimberly G
Reply March 15, 2017

I'm all about strength training for my half marathon training cycle. I really want to work on increasing my hip and glute strength. I'm still working up my way to pistol squats!

Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner
Reply March 15, 2017

have never tried a sled pull!! Look super intense and tough :) thanks for the linkup
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Laura @ This Runner's Recipes
Reply March 15, 2017

I am nowhere near being able to do a pistol squat, but one legged squats and split squats are part of my routine now. The sled pulls sound so effective!

Reply March 15, 2017

Oh my gosh, pistol squats KILL me! I can always get down, but I can never seem to make my way back up!!

Julie @ Running in a Skirt
Reply March 15, 2017

Always love your running tips like these! Thanks for hosting!

Reply March 15, 2017

I love this series! So helpful for all runners! Thanks for hosting.
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Nicole @ Fitful Focus
Reply March 15, 2017

Come train me. K thanks!

Reply March 15, 2017

Your one leg squats are so impressive! I am no where near that flexible with my squats, but I have noticed a big difference in my running with more consistent strength work and one leg balance. It's key!

Ange // Cowgirl Runs
Reply March 15, 2017

That sled pull would be amazing for running power!
Thanks to barre I can do a mini one leg squat, but need to work on ROM and strength.

(I'm not sure if you and Nicole are looking for a new host, or if Jen will still be involved when she travels, but if you are, I'd love to join in!)
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Reply March 15, 2017

Oh I know I have to do more hills and step up training! Love the way you use the sand bag, especially for the sled pull, I've never tried that!

Reply March 16, 2017

Lessons leaned the hard way are the most valuable. i'm also training for a half marathon with SportMe marathon training which calculates distance, time, pace and calories.

Reply March 16, 2017

Not only a pistol squat, but you are also holding the ultimate sandbag! Such a great move. I can do them on one leg, but not quite the other.

Janelle @ Run With No Regrets
Reply March 16, 2017

Great tips! I've never done a sled looks like a great worokut! I am terrible with my single-legged squats...I could only dream to do a pistol squat like that!
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Reply March 21, 2017

I love the name of your blog. The Fit Foodie Mama. That just describes me! Love food but want to be FIT. For the bench step up, just how high should the step be? Does the height of the step make any difference to the muscle tone and the speed with which the muscles are being toned up?

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