Looking to switch up your strength training? These five best kettlebell exercises for runners will work multiple muscle groups, all with a single piece of equipment.
Kettlebells are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can have in your home or garage gym. You can use them for core, leg, and upper body work. As a runner, it’s important to work all those areas to build strength and stability throughout your body. Strength training with kettlebells, whether at home or in the gym, can help prevent the likelihood of injury.
You get more than a strength workout when you perform these kettlebell exercises for runners. You get a great cross-training workout because you’re elevating your heart rate for exercises like kettlebell swings and sumo deadlift high pulls. And what’s great about kettlebells is that you don’t need more than one or two to get started, and they’re small enough to store in the corner of a closet when you’re not using them – or in the trunk of your car if you want to get in a park workout after an easy run.
Here are five of the best kettlebell exercises I’ve found for runners. If you’re new to kettlebell work, I recommend starting light so you can get used to the different ways a kettlebell works your muscles.
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Single Leg Deadlifts
This exercise works your hamstrings and glutes, both important for powering you up hills and putting the brakes on downhills.
- Hold your kettlebell in one hand and let it hang to the side. Stand on one leg, the same side that you’re holding the kettlebell.
- Keep the knee of your standing leg slightly bent. Then, deadlift the kettlebell by bending at the hip, and extending your free leg behind you for balance. Lower the kettlebell until your torso is parallel to the ground, then return to the upright position. That’s one rep.
This move works your glutes, quads, and core.
- Hold your kettlebell at your chest with both hands, cupping it like a goblet. The handle can be up or down; your choice. Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart.
- Brace your core, then drop down into a squat. Keep your chest up and try to get as deep into the squat as possible while still keeping your weight on your heels.
Sumo Deadlift High Pulls
Sumo deadlift high pulls are one of the best kettlebell exercises for runners – they work everything and are great for developing strength in your posterior chain. Because this is kind of an advanced move, I’m embedding this video to demonstrate:
- With the kettlebell on the ground between your feet, get into a wide stance. Grab the kettlebell with both hands and set up with your hips back and knees bent. Keep your chest and head up.
- Extend your hips and knees and simultaneously pull the kettlebell to the middle of your chest, raising your elbows. Reverse the movement, keeping your core tight and back flat. That’s one rep.
Toes to Kettlebell
This kettlebell exercise for runners isn’t easy, but it works your core like nobody’s business.
- Lay on your back with your arms stretched above your head on the floor, holding on to a kettlebell, and your legs stretched out. Keep your feet relaxed and your knees unlocked.
- Keep your legs straight, and slowly raise them over your head to touch your toes to the kettlebell’s handle. It’s okay if your toes don’t make contact with the kettlebell’s handle. Keep your core engaged and your back as flat as possible on the floor.
- Bring your legs back to the starting position. That’s one rep.
Yay, kettlebell swings! These are probably the most perfect exercise because they work so much of your body. If you do track workouts and want to switch things up, you can run 400 meters, then do a set of 10 kettlebell swings. Rinse, and repeat as much as you want.
If you’re new to kettlebell swings, do Russian swings, where you only swing the kettlebell to eye level. You can do full American swings and bring the kettlebell over your head if you’re more advanced. This kettlebell exercise works your legs, core, and glutes – and helps with your posture. Remember to brace your core and squeeze your glutes as you bring the kettlebell up!
- Start with your feet about
hip-widthapart, kettlebell between your feet, and turn your feet slightly outward. Grasp the kettlebell with both hands, and keep your shoulders pulled back and down. Don’t round your back.
- Forcefully extend your knees and hips (pop your hips!) to bring the kettlebell up. Keep your arms straight. Bring it to the top position, either at eye level (Russian swings) or overhead (American swings).
- Bring the kettlebell back down the same way you brought it up, keeping your core tight and your shoulders retracting.