Total Body Gym Workout For Runners: 11 Exercises To Get Strong

We all know that strength training is imperative to keeping us strong, healthy, and running at peak performance.

There are plenty of ways we can work strength training into our weekly programs, whether it be bodyweight exercises or using equipment such as resistance bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, and suspension devices.

Today, our focus will be on a total body gym workout for runners that will require various pieces of equipment. However, we will use equipment that is also pretty accessible to buy for your own home if you don’t have access to a gym.

Our guide will focus on the benefits of strength training for runners, what type of exercises and muscles you should focus on, and an entire total body gym workout to try. 

More specifically, we will discuss:

  • Benefits of Total Body Gym Workouts For Runners
  • How To Work Strength Training Into Your Schedule 
  • Strength Training Tips
  • 11 Total Body Gym Workout Exercises For Runners (Complete with step-by-step instructions and gifs)


Let’s jump in!

a person taking a dumbbell off a rack

Benefits of Total Body Gym Workouts For Runners

Weight training has a lot of excellent benefits for runners, including general improvement in strength, power, and speed, all aspects which can improve our running performance such as running economy and time to exhaustion. 

Weight training can also decrease the risk of overuse injury by improving muscle imbalances in the body. 

How To Work Strength Training Into Your Schedule 

Whether you join a gym or work out from the comfort of your own home, two full-body strength training workouts per week should be sufficient to reap the benefits while not overdoing it.

If running is your priority, it is suggested that you do your running workout first thing in the morning and then strength training later in the afternoon, giving your body some time to recuperate. 

Although there are conflicting methods, I prefer to run my more difficult workouts on the same days I strength train.

This allows an actual recovery day the following day, rather than spreading out all of your challenging workouts throughout the week and never giving your body a chance to recuperate for the next tough interval or tempo workout. 

Strength training workouts can range from 40 minutes to an hour, including a dynamic warm-up before beginning, your total body workout exercises covering all muscles, and some light stretching as a cool down at the end.

You can start with 2 sets of 8 reps of each exercise and slowly work your way up to 3 sets of 12 reps. 

a rack of dumbbells in a gym

Strength Training Tips

Here is a summary of some general tips for your strength training sessions:

  • Add two non-consecutive strength training sessions to your weekly routine.
  • If running is your priority, complete your running workout first and your strength training second.
  • Ideally, leave at least 4-6 hours between these sessions, so if you run before work at 6:00 am, try and do your full body workout for runners after work in the afternoon. 
  • Focus on good posture and form for each exercise to decrease the risk of pain or injury. 
  • Be consistent. If you skip too many days, you’ll feel sore after each workout, and your body won’t be able to adapt. 
  • Warm up with some dynamic stretching focused on the muscle groups used during the workout, and cool down with stretches that cover the same.

So, are you ready to get your total body gym workout on? Let’s check out our 11 total body gym workout for runners exercises.

You will need access to kettlebells, dumbbells, and a suspension device such as a TRX or RIP for this workout.

11 Total Body Gym Workout Exercises For Runners

#1: Kettlebell Goblet Squat 

Total body workout for runners: goblet squat.

You are most likely familiar with the bodyweight squat. Here, the technique is just about the same, but with some added weight for an extra boost.

  1. Stand tall with your feet a bit wider than hip-width apart and your toes slightly turned out. 
  2. Hold a kettlebell to your chest, keeping your elbows together, shoulders back, and chest up.
  3. Bend at the knees and hips as you sit back until your thighs are parallel to the floor. 
  4. Extend your knees and hips, pushing yourself back to your initial standing position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps or amount of time.

#2: Bulgarian Split Squat With Dumbbells

Total body workout for runners: Bulgarian split squat.

Unilateral exercises, or exercises where you work one side at a time, are excellent for fixing muscle imbalances. Each leg or arm needs to work independently and can’t compensate with its dominant side.

  1. Place the instep or flexed toes on the step behind you, whichever position is more comfortable for you. 
  2. Lower the knee of your back leg down to the floor.
  3. Your front leg should be at 90 degrees in front of you in a lunge position. Most of your weight should be on your front foot.
  4. Extend your back knee lifting yourself from the ground. 
  5. Drop back down into the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps or amount of time. 
  7. Repeat on the other leg.

Note: Ensure your front foot is placed far enough away that your knee does not pass in front of your toes when in a flexed position. 

#3: Hip Thrust Dumbbells

Hip thrust exercise.

For this exercise, you will need a bench and a dumbbell or kettlebell, or maybe even two depending on your fitness level and strength. 

  1. Begin by sitting on the floor with the bench behind you, knees bent, and heels on the floor. 
  2. Place your shoulders on the edge of the bench and your dumbbell or kettlebell in your lap.
  3. Engage your core, drive through your heels, and lift your hips upward until you have entirely extended. 
  4. Hold this position for a second or two as you engage your glutes
  5. Lower down to your starting position in a controlled manner. 
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps or amount of time.

Note: You can also perform this exercise unilaterally, working one leg at a time. 

#4: Suspension Hamstring Curl 

Hamstring curl TRX.

You will need a suspension device such as a TRX or RIP for this exercise. You could also perform this with a large exercise ball which you could pull in and push back out. 

  1. Set the suspension device straps to about one foot above the floor. 
  2. Lie on your back and place your heels into the suspension straps. 
  3. Extend your legs. 
  4. Engage your core and lift your hips and back off the floor; shoulder blades and arms stay on the ground to help control your stability. 
  5. Maintaining this position, pull your heels towards your glutes. 
  6. Return to your starting position by extending your legs in a controlled manner. 
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps or amount of time.

#5: Elevated Single Leg Calf Raise With Dumbbells 

Elevated calf raises.

For this exercise, you will need a plyometric box, a step, and a set of dumbbells or kettlebells. 

  1. Step up onto the box with both feet with a kettlebell in each hand.  
  2. Let your right heel hang off the edge of the box as you maintain your weight on the ball of your foot.
  3. Push up on the ball of your right foot as high as possible, holding the top position for a second or two. 
  4. Lower back down to your starting position, where your heel drops below the box’s edge. 
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps or amount of time.
  6. Repeat on the other side. 

Note: To increase the difficulty of this exercise, you can place your left foot on your right calf while performing the exercise.

#6: Thrusters 

Thruster exercise.

What I love about Thrusters is that they are a complex exercise that simultaneously works your upper and lower body. You’ll work your glutes, quads, hamstrings, back, shoulders, and triceps, to name a few! For this exercise, you will need a set of dumbbells. 

  1. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, a dumbbell in each hand. 
  2. Place the dumbbells at chest height, palms facing each other. 
  3. Lower down bending your knees.
  4. In one powerful movement, drive through your heels and raise yourself back up to a standing position, pushing your dumbbells overhead. 
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps or amount of time.

Note: To add difficulty, you can lower down into a complete squat, thighs parallel to the floor.

#7: Chest Press 

Chest press.
  1. Lie on a bench, flat on your back, with your feet flat on the floor. 
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, one on either side of your chest. 
  3. Extend your elbows and push the dumbbells up directly over your shoulders. 
  4. Lower them back to your starting position in a controlled movement. 
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps or amount of time.

Note: To work on muscle imbalances, you may also do this exercise unilaterally, extending one arm at a time and alternating. 

#8: Suspension Row

Suspension Row

Let’s move back to our suspension device for this one. 

  1. Take hold of the suspension device handles, one in each hand, palms facing each other. 
  2. Step back, with your feet hip-width apart, until your elbows are completely extended, reaching out in front of you. Depending on your fitness level, your starting position will vary. If you are advanced, your body can be parallel to the ground, while if you are a beginner, your body will be more at a diagonal, taking some weight off. 
  3. With your shoulders back and weight on your heels, engage your core and pull your chest toward the handles, bending your elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together. 
  4. Hold this position for a second or two, and lower yourself back to your starting position in a controlled motion. 
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps or amount of time.

Note: Remember, to make the exercise easier, take a few steps back, so you are in a more upright position. 

#9: Suspension Chin Up

TRX chin up.

This modified chin-up version is excellent for beginners because it takes a substantial amount of weight off by keeping your feet on the ground. By all means, if this is too easy for you, just lift your entire body off the floor while doing it! 

  1. Sit crossed-legged on the floor, holding on to the suspension device, palms facing in.
  2. Pull yourself up until your head is between your hands. 
  3. Lower yourself down in a controlled manner. 
  4. Repeat for the desired number of reps or amount of time. 

#10: Suspension Side Plank

Suspension side plank.

This side plank adds a bit of a challenge with a suspension device. If you need to work up to this, you can begin by doing the same exercise but on the floor. 

  1. Adjust the suspension straps to about calf level. 
  2. Lie on your left side and place your feet in the foot straps of the suspension device. 
  3. Prop yourself up by placing your left elbow below your left shoulder. 
  4. Engage your core and raise yourself up into a side plank position. 
  5. Hold for the desired amount of time.

#11: Medicine Ball Slam

Medicine ball slam exercise.

Let’s finish with a metabolic workout for the end of our sessions. A Tabata of medicine ball slams! This is a total body workout to end your sessions with a kick. You will need a medicine ball for this exercise.

  1. Stand tall with your feet at hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. 
  2. Hold the medicine ball with both hands at your hips.
  3. Engage your core and with good posture, lift the medicine ball above your head (do not let it fall behind you).
  4. With all of your force, slam the medicine ball to the floor, keeping your back straight. 
  5. Squat to pick up the ball (never reach over and curve your back), drive yourself back up, and repeat the movement. 
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps or amount of time. 

In this case, a Tabata would be 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest for 4 minutes straight. 

There you have it! A full body gym workout for runners for you to try out at your local gym or your very own home gym if you have the necessary equipment. 

If you are looking to work specifically on your core, you can also check out our core workout for runners! 

kettlebells on a gym floor
Photo of author
Katelyn is an experienced ultra-marathoner and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the trails. In the running community, she is known for her ear-to-ear smile, even under the toughest racing conditions. She is a UESCA-certified running coach and loves sharing her knowledge and experience to help people reach their goals and become the best runners they can be. Her biggest passion is to motivate others to hit the trails or road alongside her, have a blast, and run for fun!

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