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The Best Cross-Training Plan For Runners

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The best cross-training plan includes activities enjoyed at least 2 times a week, with bodyweight exercises being beneficial for runners. The Best Cross-Training Plan For Runners www.runnerclick.com

Drop down and give us twenty.

Let’s see 10 burpees. Finish the set with five squat jumps. And yes, this workout is absolutely for runners.

Runners should make sure they are adding in cross-training workouts throughout the week. But finding the best cross-training plan could be the real challenge.

The problem is many runners just don’t know exercises that benefit their needs the most. They might not know how often to cross-train or how to find (or determine) the best plan for them.

Cross-Training For Runners: The Basics

Cross-training guide for runners
Photo by Spencer Dahl on Unsplash

Runners might not know where to start when it comes to cross-training. Some might want want to check out a new class like spinning or Pilates. Others might want to familiarize themselves with bodyweight exercise moves that they can do in circuits.

This is a good time to check out classes offered at a local gym. New members can generally pick up a pass for a free trial period. 

Classes like TRX or kickboxing might seem out of a runner’s wheelhouse, but give it a try because it might end up being a cross-training go-to. 

Take advantage of the free weights and machines to strength train. But runners don’t need a gym membership in order to cross-train.

The Beauty of Bodyweight Workouts

Bodyweight exercises are among the greatest ways to cross-train. In fact, it just might be the best way to cross-train.

It doesn’t require any equipment except for ourselves. And runners can customize to include moves that provide a full body workout or focus on specific parts like arm day and leg day.

These workouts are great for building endurance if going Tabata rounds, aiding in weight loss, sculpting muscles and increasing strength. 

Types of Bodyweight Exercises:
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Push-Ups
  • Planks
  • Burpees
  • Dips
  • Leg raises
  • Bridges
  • Sit-Ups
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Skaters


Cross-Training Examples:
  • Weight lifting (strength training)
  • Bodyweight exercises
  • Cycling
  • Pilates/ Yoga
  • Swimming
  • TRX
  • Boxing/ Kickboxing
  • CrossFit
  • Walking

Plan Your Cross-Training Schedule

How often should a runner cross-train?

Runners need to take a Goldilocks approach when cross-training. This means not too little, not too much.

The best cross-training plan when it comes to the amount per week depends on goals. If training for a big event like a marathon, focus on the runs.

This means only one to two days a week. Cross training can be done on a rest day or can be substituted for an easy, low-mileage run.

Recreational runners, or those who run simply for fun, should get two to three days of cross-training days each week. This is the case for those who typically run two to four days.

Think run, cross-train, rest, repeat. Then use the last day for another run or to cross-train.

 Schedule Examples:

Monday: 3 to 4 miles

Tuesday: Spin class

Wednesday: Rest day or yoga

Thursday: 3 to 5-mile run

Friday: Weights at the gym or body weight exercises

Photo by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash

Saturday: Long run

Sunday: Rest 


Monday:  Leg and back workout and short run

Tuesday: 3 to 4-mile run

Wednesday: Kickboxing or arm workout and short run

Thursday: Full body workout

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Long run

Sunday: Rest or yoga


Monday: Short run with an arm workout

Tuesday: Pilates

Wednesday: 3 to 5-mile run

Thursday: 3 to 5-mile run

Friday: Zumba or elliptical

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Bodyweight exercises

Photo by Form on Unsplash


The best cross-training plan for runners really depends on individual goals, so plan out days per week that fits the runner’s schedule the best. Then try to switch things up and do a mix of cross-training exercises like instructor-led classes and bodyweight exercises to become a well-rounded athlete.

The Best—And Ultimate—Cross-Training Plan For Runners

This might be subjective. But adding in this cross-cross-training plan will yield results.

Aim for Tabata rounds twice a week when not training for a big race. Have three exercises and complete as many of them as possible for 30-seconds to a minute, with 10-seconds of rest in between. Then move on to three different moves, and then three more moves.

Repeat for eight rounds.

Another way is to count down the moves like 30 mountain climbers, 20 knee raises, 10-second plank. Repeat. Then switch up the combo. Complete three rounds, each round repeating the moves twice.

Examples of combos include burpees, squat with a kick on each side, plank, skaters, mountain climbers, bicep curls, and deadlift.

All runners need to a yoga mat and dumbbells.

Start with a warmup then focus on rounds of cardio with moves like high knees and jumping jacks. Then do rounds of weights to focus on arm muscles.

Then get down on the mat and do ab work. The best core moves for runners include bicycles, plank jacks, Russian twists, and leg lifts.

Aim for at least 30-minutes of this type of workout.

Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash

Why should runners plan on cross-training?

Running is a great full body exercise, but some muscles are ignored. That’s why cross-training is important.

It allows balance when it comes to strengthening. Runners can focus on muscle groups they often ignore such as inner thighs or shoulders. This further reduces the risk of injury.

It helps keep the muscles guessing, and the mind free from boredom instead of always running.


  1. Jess Underhill, The Dos and Don’ts Of Cross-Training, Running Website
  2. Christine Luff, The Benefits of Cross-Training for Runners, Health Website

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