Hip Strengthening Exercises for Improved Performance

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muscular legs with a resistance bandI’ve learned the hard way over the years that strength training is very necessary while distance training for your marathon or half marathon.  The repetitive motion and impact that running has on our bodies is not well received if our muscles and joints aren’t strong enough to support our run.

I was reminded of this again while running the Detroit Marathon last fall.  Between soccer practice, football practice, games, work, dinner, school, …and 4 training runs per week …something had to give.  And for me it was strength training.  But, boy did I pay for it!  In fact, I’m still paying for it.  The week of the race my hips seized up and a serious amount of pain set in.  All that week I was pretty convinced I would never see the finish line of my first marathon.  Thankfully, with the help of my treasured chiropractor, I was able to run a strong race.  The aftermath, however, has been rather brutal.

Apply these hip strengthening exercises to your training plan!  Your body (and likely your pace) will thank you!


Get down on your hands and knees with a straight back.  While breathing out, extend your left arm in front of you and your right leg behind you.  Bring them back down to the center and switch, extending your right arm in front of you and your left leg back.  Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Stability Bridges

Using a stability ball, lie on your back on the floor and place your feet on top of the ball with your knees bent.  On an outward breath, raise your hips upward into a bridge and hold for a breath.  Do 3 sets of ten reps.

Swinging Leg Lifts

Turn sideways and loop a resistance band around your ankle.  You can attach it to a pole, or even around your other ankle.  Pull your ankle outward, raising your leg to the side and stretching the resistance band.  Return your leg to the starting position.  Do a set of 10 reps, then repeat on opposite leg.  Do each leg three times.

Improved Performance

Including at least one day of strength training per week in your training plan will help you to avoid injury.  You may even be rewarded by noticing an improvement in your pace as well.  A strong body means a strong run.

What are your favorite strength training exercises to incorporate into your distance training plan?

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