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Sara Stover

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5 Kettlebell Strength Training Exercises for Runners

5 Kettlebell Strength Training Exercises for Runners

While running burns calories, provides both aerobic and anaerobic training, and develops lean muscle mass, it can also result in impact on the body. Every time your foot hits the ground, you expose your joints and muscles to DETRIMENTAL impact, which causes wear and tear over time and hundreds of miles, especially if you run on cement and pavement.

Strength training with kettlebells can help runners decrease their chance of injury while increasing performance gains. The kettlebells off-center design provides flexibility and strength training that is especially important for protecting the injury-prone major joints of endurance runners.

Block 1: Warm Up

A proper warm up is an important aspect of any workout, preparing you for the demands you are about to put on your body, while also preventing injury. After a thorough warm up using movements such as high knees and lateral skips, blood flow increases and the body’s core temperature rises, making you more prepared for the physical stress experienced when multiple muscle groups are activated repeatedly during the workout.

High Knees

Begin in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart.

Drive your right knee up to your chest, or as high as you can, while swinging your left arm forward.

Quickly plant your right foot back on the ground while driving your left knee up, and swinging the right arm. The goal is to get your left knee up before the right foot hits the ground.

This movement should feel like an exaggerated running simulation.

Repeat for 60 seconds.

Lateral Skips

Start by standing with your feet together.

Drive your right knee as high as you can and swing your left arm forward.

Hop to the right by planting your right foot to your right side as you land, and punching the left knee up. Each time you punch your left knee up, your right arm should swing forward.

The left foot should land below you as you drive the right knee back up. Continue to skip to the right by pushing from the outside edge of the right foot, and inside edge of the left foot.

Hop laterally to the right for 45 to 60 seconds, or 30 to 50 feet.

Switch sides, and hop to the left by pushing from the outside edge of the left foot.

Workout Instructions

Tight or weak back, core, gluteal, and hip muscles can often make a runner more susceptible to injury. The kettlebell exercises in the following training workout will focus on strengthening these typically weak areas, enabling runners to avoid injury, as well as make gains in power, speed, and muscular endurance.

For the kettlebell exercises below, women should use an 4 to 8 kg (9 to 18 lbs.) kettlebell and men should use an 8 to 10 kg (18 to 22 lbs.) kettlebell.

Single Lef Kettlebell Deadlift

Areas Worked:  Glutes, Hamstrings

Stand upright, holding a kettlebell in your right hand. Keep the kettlebell in front of your thigh at arm’s length, and hold your left arm out to the side for balance.

Stretch your left leg back behind you so you are only standing on your right leg.

Tighten your left quad and flex your left foot to keep the muscles of the back leg activated.

Lower the kettlebell to the floor in a straight line by hinging at your hips, and lower your torso until it is nearly parallel to the floor. Maintain a flat back, with the standing knee slightly bent during this movement.

Tap your kettlebell to the ground, and stand back up while pulling your left leg in as if you are going to return to standing upright. Stop before you put your left foot down, and let it hover a few inches above the floor.

Perform 5 sets of 6 reps, then alternate sides.

Kettlebell Bootstrapper Squats

Areas Worked: Hamstrings

Start by grabbing a lightweight kettlebell and holding it upright, with both hands on the handles,

With the kettlebell under your chin and close to your chest, squat deeper than you would in a typical squat to promote mobility in the hips and ankles.

Next, bend forward from the hips, letting your head hang down between the upper arms.

Straighten your knees out so your tail bone moves toward the ceiling, while swinging the kettlebell back and between your straightened legs.

Glance through your legs and behind you before swinging back into the squat position and lifting your head.

Repeat for 60 seconds.

Kettlebell Swing

Areas Worked: Core, Glutes, Hamstrings, Legs, Shoulders

Start by standing with your feet about hip-width apart, and the kettlebell between your legs, about one foot in front of you.

Squat down, grabbing the kettlebell with both hands and maintaining a flat back as you do.

Swing the kettlebell between your legs until it is behind them, keeping your chest up and your hips hinged. Maintain a neutral spine throughout this total-body movement.

Drive through your heels and use your hips to come back to standing. As you do so, tighten your glutes, engage your core, and swing the kettlebell out with straight arms, raising it to chest level.

Repeat for 60 seconds.

Kettlebell Side Lunge

Areas Worked: Core, Glutes, Hamstrings, Quads

Stand upright, gripping a kettlebell by the handles and holding it under your chin and close to your chest.

Lunge to the right, bending your leg as it steps sideways and extending the left leg.

Essentially this exercise is a singe-leg squat, so focus on having your chest up and your shoulders back.

Drive through your right leg to move out of the side lunge and back to an upright position.

Switch legs by lunging to the left.

Perform 5 to 8 reps on each side.

Turkish Sit Up to Side Plank

Areas Worked: Arms, Back, Core, Glutes, Shoulders

Begin by lying on your back, with a kettlebell at your right side.

For the start position, your right leg should be bent and your left leg straight. Your right foot should be flat on the floor and both your legs approximately 45 degrees apart.

Grab the kettlebell with your right hand, and press it above your head, directly over your shoulder. Your left arm should be about 45 degrees away from your torso, with your knuckles facing upward.

Roll over onto your left forearm while balancing the kettlebell over your right shoulder.

Next, push yourself up onto your left hand, keeping the kettlebell stable as you do so.

Then lift your hips up off the floor as high as you possibly can and push your right foot into the floor. The left leg should remain straight during this movement.

While lowering your hips back to the floor, come down gently to your left forearm.

Pull the kettlebell back down, and lower your body down to the start position, laying face up. Make sure to use your arm and core to maintain a controlled, smooth descent throughout the movement.

Repeat 5 to 8 planks on each side.

In addition to preventing injury, using kettlebells for strength training can lead to increased speed and power, as well as improved muscular endurance for runners. Strength training with kettlebells is an efficient and effective approach to avoiding injury, and improving running performance at the same time.

About Kettlebell Kings

Kettlebell Kings is a premium-quality kettlebell and kettlebell content provider, based in Austin, Texas. You can view our equipment, kettlebell how-to’s, and get expert advice at and For more information, call us at 855-7KETTLE to learn more.

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