I don’t know if Paula Radcliff does any of these exercises, but I guarantee you her glutes are stronger than mine, and that’s part of how she gets the speed and endurance she is famous for (seen here leading the pack at the 2008 NYC Marathon).
Why should a runner care about having a strong butt? Dr. Jordan Metzl said, “I always say if you want to keep running, a strong butt is a key to a happy life.” Why should we care what Dr. Metzl thinks? Something about being a sports medicine physician who’s helped thousands of runners achieve success, developing the iron strength workout, and running multiple marathons (plus, he’s also faster than me).
Now I don’t have access to Dr. Metzl, but I do know Road Hazahd team member Julie Rapczynski. Julie has taught fitness classes for years, and has collected a bunch of workouts designed to help runners work their glutes. Here are some of them; check ’em out and give them a try!
1. Supine Bridges (Double and Single Leg)
Start by lying down on your back with your legs hip-width apart and feet relaxed, with heels pressed into the floor. Squeeze and activate your glutes to lift and extend your hips off the floor. Don’t over-arch your spine, and keep your head and neck relaxed.
Lying on your side with knees flexed and feet together, open legs like a clamshell to activate your gluteus medius muscle. You can add resistance with a band for a greater challenge.
Stand tall in a bilateral stance, and push your hips and weight back into your heels as you sit back into an imaginary chair. Keep your spine neutral (don’t collapse the upper body) and your knees tracking your toes.
4. Single-Leg Squats
Use a chair or a TRX (suspension training system) to assist you. Keep your standing foot relaxed as you push your hips back with your knee tracking the toes of your standing leg. Start by actually sitting down on the chair (unless you are using a TRX), and work your way up to barely tapping your gluteus to the chair. Single-leg work is a great way to feel which leg may be stronger/weaker and can help flush out imbalances in strength.
Find a strong surface that has enough room for your foot to complete a single-leg step-up. Place your foot on a step or platform, and push the hips back to activate your glutes, pressing your heel into the platform. Step up until you are standing upright, with your hips underneath your shoulders and glutes engaged. Slowly step back to the floor. Keep your knee and hip angle at less than 90 degrees of flexion.