As a runner, finding the right cross training workout to fit your schedule, fitness goals and ability level can often feel unpredictably challenging. And when you do finally find a cross training workout that you love, it’s tempting to repeat it week after week.
Cross training workouts strengthen different muscles, increase your lung capacity, heart function, and most importantly: help you stay injury free.
Completing the same activity day in and day out can cause repeated stress on your muscles, leading to overuse injuries. Before you know it, your glutes have become inactive and arm muscles are pretty much non-existent.
While most runners understand the importance of regular cross training, finding a cross training workout that they love is an entirely different story.
Many runners find themselves stuck on the elliptical, spin bike or in a yoga class secretly counting down the minutes until they are done with their workout.
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The beauty of cross training is that it can be just about anything. From walking the dog, to swimming, biking, lifting weights, playing a sport, doing yoga or a bodyweight workout, your options are nearly limitless.
However, without running to choose from, many runners feel a bit lost when looking for a cross training workout. So many head to the gym to waste yet another hour on the spin bike, when deep down they hate everything about it.
Luckily, cross training doesn’t even have to involve leaving your house. Whether you’re looking for a strength training workout, active recovery session or intense cardio burn, many cross training workouts can be completed without needing the extra equipment or machines at the gym.
As we prepare ourselves for the quickly approaching training season for fall races, there’s no better time to experiment with cross training workouts and find a few that you love.
These 12 cross training workout ideas for runners will help you find a variety of workouts to add to your training plan this season. Try every single one, or pick and choose from your favorites.
12 Cross Training Workout Ideas for Runners
If you’re looking for a high intensity cross training workout – this 30 minute challenge is a must. The challenge is simple: complete all exercises three times, within 30 minutes. That sounds easy, right? Wrong!
With a combination of bodyweight exercises that’ll quickly get your heart pumping, this cross training workout challenge will have you burning calories like crazy. It’s a great choice for runners hoping to increase their fitness level with each workout.
It’s so easy to neglect those seemingly “unimportant” muscles as a runner – aka, the arm muscles. While it may seem like our arms play a very insignificant role in our running, they actually have the ability to contribute greatly when we are fatigued or running uphill.
Want to incorporate some arm exercises but don’t have any dumbbells? Then this workout is for you. With no equipment required, this Powerful Arm Workout incorporates a variety of bodyweight exercises to create resistance and strengthen and tone those arms for your next run.
Sometimes a good cross training workout involves nothing more than some active stretching. If you’re looking for a low impact, easy recovery workout, this yoga routine is for you.
This Recovery Yoga Routine is ideal if your cross training day falls right after a long run or hard workout. These yoga poses are specifically targeted towards runners and focus on all of the major running muscles. You’ll finish your cross training workout feeling refreshed and rejuvenated for a new week of hard training!
When you’re short on time, it can feel nearly impossible to find a workout that still burns calories and helps you gain strength. This Bodyweight Workout requires no extra equipment and takes less than 15 minutes to complete – but is still intense as can be.
This cross training workout combines a variety of some of the most intense HIIT exercises to quickly increase your heart rate, while alternating between dynamic and isometric exercises to provide maximum strength gain. You might surprise yourself by what you can accomplish in 15 minutes.
Sometimes it’s fun to make your own workout and not have to follow a structured plan. If you’re looking for a cross training workout that puts you in charge of length and intensity, try this Spell Your Name Alphabet Workout.
In this cross training workout, each letter of the alphabet corresponds with a designated exercise. Try spelling out your name, your favorite word, the month, or anything else you can come up with. Look for a long phrase if you’re wanting a lengthy workout, or stick to just your name for a quick cross training session.
Your core is the central area of strength for your entire body. A strong core can help improve your posture, increase your metabolism, and even improve your running form. It’s no secret that having a strong core will help you on the run, so taking the time to focus on your core each week will definitely pay off.
This Tabata Core Challenge is quick and simple, but still incredibly effective. The unique Tabata workout structure helps keep the workout simple while your abs are burning like crazy. This cross training workout is a great way to tighten, tone and strengthen your core in a short amount of time.
There’s hardly anything better than the satisfaction you feel after a tough, sweaty workout. If you’re looking for a cardio workout that won’t involve heading to the gym, this Full Body 30 Minute HIIT Workout might be just the right fit.
This workout keeps the intensity high for 30 minutes with a variety of different dynamic bodyweight exercises. These exercises involve jumping and quick movements to increase your heart rate and help you burn a ton of calories. You’ll definitely feel the burn with this HIIT Workout!
It’s easy to get stuck in a workout rut that can feel boring and redundant. This Lucky 7s Workout mixes things up with a fun theme: 7s. With 7 exercises, 7 repetitions and 7 sets, this workout is sure to bring you some luck.
This workout targets your entire body with a variety of dynamic and isometric exercises. The quick repetitions make this workout feel like it is flying by with each set.
Strength training is an essential part of any runner’s training plan, and this Stability Ball Workout takes strength training to the next level.
The stability ball enhances each class strength exercise by adding an element of balance to the mix. This workout is quick but incredibly efficient for strengthening the entire body. You’ll have to try this workout a few times and see how your strength and balance improves.
This Full Body Strengthening Workout combines a variety of key strength training exercises for runners into one massive workout. With exercises that strengthen your arms, core, legs, glutes, hips and much more, this workout has it all.
Try incorporating this Strengthening Workout on a weekly basis to ensure you running muscles stay strong and active throughout training. These exercises are a great way to stay strong on the run and help avoid injury when training ramps up.
Sometimes completing the same strength training exercises week after week can begin to feel redundant. No matter how beneficial they may be, your body begins to adapt and before you know it, your lengthy strength training session is no longer helping you get stronger.
This Pyramid Workout for Runner’s Strength is a great way to mix up your usual strength training workout with a pyramid style. This workout breaks down into a pyramid, with a variety of different levels of exercises repeated for a certain number of repetitions. Try this workout to change up the routine and keep things interesting!
When your kids are playing in the living room or your husband is snuggled in watching a movie, it can be hard to workout at home and stay focused. If it’s becoming especially challenging to stay on track with at home workouts, try heading to the gym for a great cross training workout on the spin bike.
This 30 Minute Spin Workout incorporates a variety of intervals, hills and recovery to keep you on your toes the entire time. Spin through some sprints, hills, easy saddle sessions and more during this workout. Try it out at the gym to make your time on the bike fly by!
Having a few cross training workout ideas in your list of favorites is a great way to mix things up when your routine begins to feel stale. Completing the same workout week after week allows your body to adapt to the exercises, which eventually means that you won’t be gaining any new strength or fitness.
Take your time working through each workout on this list, or browse through and pick a few of your favorites when your routine has gotten stale.
Cross training for runners is key to any training plan, but incorporating a few different workouts each week doesn’t have to involve a lot of time. Continue to try different forms of cross training until you find an activity that you love – and your running will thank you.