The Best Running Workouts to Increase Speed, Strength, and Agility

Running is great for the body, my dudes. It keeps weight down, strengthens bones, and clears mental cobwebs. That said, running puts the body through a limited range of motion, following a linear, repetitive path that can restrict range of motion and keep your muscles locked and stiff.

Get cardio taken care of during your run, and then add these best running exercises, recommended by a pro.

Tracksmith Nick Willis running
Tracksmith

We hit the track with two-time Olympic medalist and Athlete Experience Manager at Tracksmith, Nick Willis, to learn the best exercises for runners — who aren’t actually going for a run. These six exercises require no equipment and can be performed anywhere. Just make sure your apparel is ready for the workout and grab Willis’ favorites: The Session shorts 7 inch, Van Cortland Tee, and Trackshouse Sweatshirt.

Seriously, if you haven’t tried Tracksmith running threads, you haven’t lived, brother.

Willis recommends performing these six running exercises after a run or on a non-running day. Short on time this week and can only choose one? Opt for No. 6, which includes fast-twitch muscle activation, increases your range of motion, and forces you to work on your posture and form.

Adding all six running exercises to your fitness regimen will work to increase agility, power, and strength. Because who doesn’t want to run faster, hurt less, and train like an Olympic runner?

Skip

running workouts fitness skip
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Equipment: None

Reps: One set of 20 (10 on each leg) at the immediate conclusion of every run

You need about 8 yards of open space. It’s a high knee skip done in place, with only minimal forward movement. Stand tall, feet together, then bring one knee up high towards your chest.  The apex of your high knee coincides with the landing of your supporting leg (from its skip jump). Bring your leg down with the next mini skip jump, and then repeat with the other leg.

High-Knee Karaoke Drill

running workouts fitness High-Knee Karaoke Drill
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Equipment: None

Reps: 3 sets of 4 in each direction, four times per week

This is a sideways running movement where you bring your trailing leg around in front of you and let your front leg shuffle behind. Adding high knee action to your trail leg and bringing it past your chest really helps activate your adductors and hip flexors, while also increasing your range of motion

Single-Leg Calf Raises

running workouts fitness calf raise
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Equipment: None

Reps: Two sets of 20 on each leg.

The stronger our lower limbs are, the more injury-resilient they become, and the more power they can generate for faster running on your toes. Single leg calf raises provide general strengthening. Stand on the edge of a step on one foot and lightly hold onto a wall or door frame for balance. Press up on your toes and hold at the top for 3 seconds before coming back down. Try these best leg exercises for men if you want more burn.

Jump Rope

running workouts fitness jump rope
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Equipment: Jump rope optional

Reps: Three sets of 60 seconds, three times per week

We’re still strengthening our lower limbs, and jump rope gives them plyometric power. Start jumping rope and try to limit movement in legs and get your spring using your ankle and foot mobility.

Split Squat Jumps

lunge split squat
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Equipment: None

Reps: Two sets of four, twice a week

Stand tall with one foot in front and one foot behind about 2 feet apart like you are about to dip into a squat. Crouch by bending your knees then jump as high as you can using your arms to throw yourself in an upward motion. Land with both feet together. This works on explosive power recruiting fast-twitch fibers to help your top-end running speed.

Fun fact: Willis is like the rest of us – there’s always one exercise we dread doing. He personally hates Split Squats. “I never feel like I’m able to get far off the ground, especially at the end of the set.”  See, we all hate working out a little, even professional athletes.

Hill Sprints

social distancing running stairs
Ev

Equipment: None

Reps: One set of four to six sprints, 10 seconds each, once a week

Find a steep hill, sprint up as fast as you can for 10 seconds, maintaining a tall posture and focusing on keeping your hips and feet pointing forward (there is a tendency to splay your feet out like a duck and twist your hips when sprinting uphill). This will activate your fast-twitch fibers and develop specific power that will make you more efficient and faster when running on a flat surface.

And remember before performing any of these running exercises, do not rush through them, and “make sure these exercises are done on good recovery so you can maintain good form and posture,” Willis says.

Now let’s kick up some dirt.

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