Circuit Training for Runners

Strength & Cross Training Advice,Videos: Running Training & Motivation
Circuit Training for Runners

What is circuit training?

Circuit training is the effective combination of cardio vascular fitness and resistance training. Exercises are short and intense with timed intervals between each station. Many of the exercises involve using your own body weight, medicine balls or resistance bands.

It is used in particular by a variety of athletes of all ages and ability, targeting core muscles to develop strength, improve stability and improve posture.

Circuit Training for BeginnersAdvanced Circuit Training


How can circuit training improve my running?

Circuit training is specifically designed to give the entire body a workout, so it improves cardio fitness as well as enhancing strength, stamina and mobility. This provides a nice foundation of suppleness, power and stamina, to which athletes can add speed and racing skills just before the competitive season begins.

The exercises within each circuit are separated by a short rest period. Circuit Training is extremely popular as part of a running training programme, as many of the circuits are of a high intensity and can be done using no extra gym equipment. Circuit training programmes often take an average of 30-45 minutes to complete, and offer the same advantages as a one-hour-long regular workout would provide.


What are the body's 'core' muscles?

The 'core' refers to the centre of your body. Your abdominals, back, hips and upper legs are the body's source of strength, power and balance. To build a strong core you need to exercise a variety of different muscles. The 'core' actually consists of many different muscles that stabilise the spine and pelvis.

Adding a circuit training session 2-4 times weekly will give a huge improvement to your body's core strength. Strengthening will help create a solid base of support for the entire body. This will help to:

  • Minimise the risk of common running injuries, such as plantar faciatis, ITB pain, runner's knee, and shin splints
  • Help maintain a better running posture
  • Improve balance and co-ordination
  • Improve running technique
Circuit training

Ready to give it a try?

For maximum benefit, circuit training exercises should be performed one after the other with as little rest as possible. Aim to build up to 2-3 circuits a week. Increasing the duration of each exercise will help with progression. You can also advance your training by adding in medicine balls, resistance bands, and dumbbells.

Below you can find two examples of circuit training programmes for runners – one for beginners and another one for more advanced runners. The exercises are designed to engage muscle groups crucial for each type of movement – glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and core. The combination of strength, explosive and single-leg exercises is a great way to activate more muscles. It’s going to boost your strength, running speed, stamina and increase your resistance to injury. Plus it’s fun!

Choose the beginner's version if you are new to this type of training and you simply don’t know how your body will react. The advanced version is for runners who already have experience in any strength or circuit training. In both cases, pace your speed to make sure that you have enough fuel to finish it all ;-) .  If you finish it quickly (under 20-25 min) and you you're hungry for more, feel free to make another round of the circuit. Also, do not underestimate the warm-up and cool-down. For such intense training it’s a crucial element for both improving your performance and preventing you from getting injured.

Each set within the circuit is designed for 30-90 seconds of work, with a short, steady paced run in between. Try to rest as little as possible between the sets. However, listen to your body! If any exercise is too challenging, there is no harm in adjusting the time of each one. It would be more profitable to complete the circuit than have to drop out half way through.

If you're not sure how to do any of the exercises, check out the handy video examples.


Circuit Training for Beginners

Warm-Up

Slow-paced run: 1 mile OR 10 min
Butt Kicks: 30 sec
High Knees: 30 sec
Leg swings (front): 30 sec
Leg Swings (side): 30 sec

Training

Squats x 10
Mountain Climber x 20
Run at steady pace (70% max effort): 400 m OR 2-3 min

Forward Lunges (alternate legs) x 20   
Jumping Jacks x 20
Run at steady pace (70% max effort): 400 m& OR 2-3 min

Plank x 30 sec (or as long as you can)
Crunches x 20
Run at steady pace (70% max effort): 400 m OR 2-3 min

Side Plank Raises (each side) x 10
Burpees x 20
Run at steady pace (70% max effort): 400 m OR 2-3 min

Aim to finish in 40-45 min

Cool-Down

Jogging x 10 min
Whole Body Stretching


Advanced Circuit Training

Warm-Up

Slow pace run (progressively increase speed): 2 km OR 10-15 min
Butt Kicks: 30 sec
High Knees: 30 sec
Leg swings (front): 30 sec
Leg Swings (side): 30 sec

Training

Squats x 20
Single Leg Hops (each leg) x 10
Burpees x 20
V Crunches x 10
Run at steady pace (70% max effort): 800 m OR 3-4 min

Glute Bridges x 20
Single Leg Deadlifts (each leg) x 10
Mountain Climber x 30
Side Plank Raises (each side) x 30 sec
Run at steady pace (70% max effort): 800 m OR 3-4 min

Push-ups x 10 (or as many as you can)
Bicycle Crunches x 30 sec
Tuck Jumps x 15
Plank to Press x 20
Run at steady pace (70% max effort): 800 m OR 3-4 min

Aim to finish in 40-45 min

Cool-Down

Jogging x 10 min
Whole Body Stretching


Roundup of Circuit Training Guidelines

Frequency: Aim for 2-4 sessions per week
Load: Variable, adding medicine balls, resistance bands and dumbbells
Time per station: 20-90 seconds
Circuits per session: 3-4
Rest time between sets: 30-90 seconds (once circuit is complete)
Speed of execution: med-fast


Listen to your body

These are suggested guidelines – as with any type of training, listen to your body. For a training programme tailored to your needs and abilities, you might want to consult a personal trainer or a local gym. See some local running club listings in London.


Bonus Session: 4-Minute Tabata

Join in with Run and Become staff members in a special tabata interval training session. It's just 4 minutes of 8 different exercises, designed for you to run better and feel better. They'll strenghten your legs and glutes, engage core muscles and even improve your balance. You think 4 minutes can't do much? Well... join us and find out!

Want to mix it up?

Try these other workout equipments for extra challenge, fun and variety!

Fitness-Mad Pro Hand Weight With Strap 0.75KG

Fitness-Mad Pro Hand Weight With Strap 0.75KG
£14.99

Fitness-Mad Pro Speed Rope

Fitness-Mad Pro Speed Rope
£9

Fitness-Mad Squat Bands Set of 3

Fitness-Mad Squat Bands Set of 3
£25

Clothing for Circuit Training

All our running clothing can be used in circuit training. It's made from moisture-wicking materials, so it's a perfect option for high-intensity exercises.

Shop All Running Clothing

Men's Ronhill Tech Tee

Save - 21%

Men's Ronhill Tech Tee
£37 £29

Men's Adidas D4R Twin 5in Shorts

Save - 15%

Men's Adidas D4R Twin 5in Shorts
£40 £34

Men's Pressio BIO Run Tights

Men's Pressio BIO Run Tights
£110

Women's Icebreaker Sphere Tee

Save - 26%

Women's Icebreaker Sphere Tee
£75 £55

Women's Compressport Trail Compression Shorts

Save - 42%

Women's Compressport Trail Compression Shorts
£95 £55

Women's Ronhill Tech X Tights

Save - 20%

Women's Ronhill Tech X Tights
£90 £72

Watches for Circuit Training

Our running watches are easy to use for circuit training:

Shop All GPS Watches

Garmin Forerunner 265s

Garmin Forerunner 265s
£429.99

Garmin Forerunner 965

Garmin Forerunner 965
£599.99

Shoes for Circuit Training

Running shoes are not ideal for circuit training as they're made specifically for forward movement – they don't offer enough stability for a lot of side-to-side movement. They also provide more cushioning than cross-trainers, as the repetitive motion of running benefits from a softer landing and bouncier feel underfoot.

If you mostly run but occasionally circuit train, you could consider a lighhtweight running shoe like the examples below. Bear in mind you need to get the correct level of antipronation support for your footstrike, as with any running shoe. Check out our Natural Gait Analysis service.

Shop All Running Shoes

Men's On Cloudflow 4

Men's On Cloudflow 4
£150

Men's Asics GT-2000 12

Men's Asics GT-2000 12
£140

Men's Brooks Ghost 15

Men's Brooks Ghost 15
£135

Women's On Cloudflow 4

Women's On Cloudflow 4
£150

Women's Asics GT-2000 12

Women's Asics GT-2000 12
£140

Women's Brooks Ghost 15

Women's Brooks Ghost 15
£135

This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. The exercises in the videos are ones we've found very useful and want to share with our customers. But we're not certified instructors. Always consult your specialist before beginning any exercise programme. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises or advice, stop and consult your healthcare provider.

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