Functional training to improve running

Functional training to improve running

Functional training is gymnastics that aims to improve your running performance but also to develop your body in harmony.

In fact, we all have predominant muscles and weaker muscles. So the goal of functional training is to recreate a balance both to avoid injuries but also to make progress. For example, a runner who wants to improve their performance and run longer may need to strengthen their back muscles for better posture during the race but also to improve their breathing abilities.

So, if you want to improve your performance and avoid trauma, you must integrate your training program with functional gymnastics to exercise some muscle groups that are not very stressed in the race and strengthen your muscles.

Discover the functional training program to follow to improve your stride, whether you are a beginner or an established runner. In fact, it is a program suitable for everyone because it is possible to vary the intensity and volume of work according to the level of preparation.

Functional training: what it is

Contrary to gym equipment that solicits one muscle at a time, functional work solicits more muscles and often approaches the movements reproduced in everyday life or a sport.

Functional training is a form of training in which function is more important than the aesthetic aspect. In fact, when you do functional work, your physical condition improves but also your physical abilities. In addition, you will feel your joints stronger and more elastic and also in everyday life you will have greater mobility and less muscle pain .

Benefits of functional running training

Functional work can and must occupy an important place in the realization of a performance. In fact, by improving the body and practicing a global muscle toning, the runner will have many advantages:

  • prevent trauma thanks to a physique that better tolerates efforts and constraints
  • improve resistance to fatigue
  • improve your stride
  • posture optimization
  • increased muscle power to improve performance.

Functional training + running = winning program to lose weight and improve.

Furthermore, in running, a winning way is to often change the type of training so as not to give the body the opportunity to adapt.

Benefits of running

More and more men and women appear in the running world. According to runners world 41% of runners globally run to reach a goal.Many people, even the less sporty, wear shoes and a stopwatch and start running. It is one of the most practiced sports in the world because it is cheap and accessible to everyone.

Unfortunately, if not practiced in the right way, trauma can be frequent. At the origin it is often a wrong technique, an inadequate training or a non-existent physical preparation.

Yet running is good for health, it is a cure-all against stress and insomnia and is an excellent ally in the prevention of various diseases. In addition, it helps to shake the metabolism, speed up weight loss and keep the entire cardiovascular system in training, but it is not enough! Running does not train all muscle groups .

Tips for improving running

Use speed changes, always trying to stay at a medium-low intensity level to stimulate fat metabolism. To understand if you are doing well, the advice is to have a heart rate monitor, so in addition to checking the heart rate you know in which heart rate range you have to work:

every 3 minutes increases the running speed for 1 minute and then returns to the initial speed. In fact, taking some shots will make your heart rate go up, but remember never to exceed your maximum heart rate (to find your FCM do 220 minus your age).

how to calculate your maximum heart rate

FCMAX = 220 – ETA

Ex: if you are 40 years old, yours
FC max will be 220-40 = 180 bpm
(beats per minute)

Running is the activity with the highest specific calorie consumption . So, in an hour of running you consume more than an hour of swimming or cycling, but it is not a complete sport as it does not keep the upper body sufficiently trained.

For this reason, specific exercises need to be integrated.

Functional training: muscles to be strengthened

The muscles of the body play a fundamental role in running and for this reason, functional training must be an integral part of your program.

So, in your functional gymnastics sessions, it is advisable to train all the muscles involved in the race but also the muscles that are not very stressed, such as the arms and pectorals.

Strengthen the leg muscles

To improve running it is important to strengthen the lower muscles. In fact, the enhancement helps you to limit the risk of trauma and improve your performance. In addition, it ensures a correct stride because ankle, knee, hip remain in the axis.

In addition, having strong and muscular legs prevents cartilage wear and reduces the risk of sprains and tendonitis to:

quadriceps which are the muscles responsible for pushing the knee

ischi crurali (posterior thigh muscles, connect the hip and knee joints) are fundamental muscles in running because they are responsible for knee flexion and hip extension. To avoid injuries (frequent running), they should be toned and stretched after each workout

twin muscles (calves) because they have the same action at the ankle level and also the buttocks, which are used in the propulsion phase.

Importance of the Core to improve running

No less important are the abdominals and the core because the stronger the center, the easier it is to maintain balance and run properly.

The Core is the muscular corset, the muscles that support the spine. They are the deep muscles:

  • transverse
  • obliques
  • rectus abdomen
  • back muscles (square of the loins)
  • large buttock
  • middle gluteus.

In fact, a trained core is very important for those who run because it helps to have a correct posture during the race :

  • open chest
  • equilibrium
  • correct physiological curves: cervical, dorsal and lumbar.

Having weak buttocks in running is deleterious and can lead to knee problems but also back problems (lumbar region).

Functional training program

This program is suitable for everyone, whatever your age or your level of training . The program is proposed for 2 levels: beginners and advanced.

The principle is very simple : perform muscle toning exercises that enhance your strength and improve your endurance because by becoming stronger you will have more power.

This program can be carried out all year round, but it becomes essential during the recovery phase of sports activity or if you intend to start running.

So if you run 3 times a week, the ideal would be to perform the toning program 2 times a week alone. Warm-up: You must never start a physical activity without starting the engine. Start with 10 minutes of light jogging before starting the functional training program.

This functional training is to be scheduled outside of your running sessions.

Finally, remember at the end of the session to dedicate at least 10 minutes to stretching the leg muscles :

  • quadriceps
  • ischi crurali
  • psoas
  • calves.

Functional training program: how to correctly perform the exercises

Exercises to train the core

1 – Plank

Plank correct position

On your knees with your elbows on the ground, bring your legs straight back resting your feet on your big toes and lift your pelvis, being careful to keep your back straight and parallel to the floor, your belly in and your buttocks contracted. Very important: never let your belly come out! The cervicals must be in a neutral position, i.e. in the extension of the body.

2 – Side plank

Side plank on the elbow

Start on the ground on the left side, legs stretched. Rest on your left forearm, with your elbow on the same line as your shoulder. Contracting your abs and glutes, detach your side from the ground keeping your legs and back well aligned, raise your right arm towards the sky. Maintain the side plank position. To be performed left and right.

Exercises to strengthen your abs

Crunch and rowing machine strengthen your abs : in the race, having toned abs is very important as they help protect your spine.

1 – Crunch


Lie on the floor, legs raised and knees bent. Inhale and, exhaling, bring your belly in and take your shoulders off the ground, being careful not to force your neck. Inhale, return to the starting position.

2- Rowing machine

Departure sitting on the ischium sacral bones, shoulders extended. Inhale and, exhaling, bend your legs and lift your feet off the ground bringing your arms parallel to the floor. Do not arch your back and keep your abs tight. Exhale, stretch your legs forward and bend your arms towards your torso simulating the movement of the rowing machine. Inhale, return to the starting position, with your feet off the ground.

Functional training: push-ups for arms, pectorals and shoulders

The push-ups allow you to tone your arms / pectorals and shoulders. In fact, having toned pectorals helps to open the ribcage, that is, to breathe better. Hence, it also improves running performance as arms and shoulders are fundamental in running technique.


On your toes, in front of a wall or a tree, place your hands, arms stretched out, hands at the width of the pelvis. The body must be straight as a board, shoulders, pelvis and feet must be aligned.

Inhale and, exhaling, flex your arms and bring your chest towards the wall taking care to keep your belly in and your back straight.

Variation for trainers : move your legs away from the wall in order to perform more demanding push-ups.

Functional training: calves, ischium and quadriceps

1 – Lunges


Start standing, legs parallel and hands on hips. Move your right leg forward keeping your upper body straight. Bend your right leg up to form a right angle, keeping your back straight and your abs tight. Return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise by bending your left leg.

2 – Chair

Back leaning against a wall or a tree, it slides with the buttocks downwards bringing the legs bent at 90 degrees as if you were sitting on a chair. Arms along the body and legs slightly open. Inhale, hold the position and exhale bring the belly in and detach the heels from the ground. Inhale, bring your heels back to the ground. To repeat.

3 – Climb the stairs

Climb the stairs

Climb a ladder step by step. The movement must be tonic and short. The support is on the toes, raises the knees, accompanying the movement with the arms. Run up the stairs and walk down. Repeat.

4 – Calves

On the edge of a step, stand on your toes with your heels in the void, belly in and back straight. Inhale and, exhaling, stand on your toes. If you have balance problems, you can put your hand on the wall or railing.

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