Calisthenics for your park run

A fit woman in her fifties completing a full push-up

Redefining your usual park run

If you go for a regular park run, or if want to start running, you may already know that strength training can improve your running economy (1) and see greater increases of VO2 max (2). We can see the effect of a stronger upper body training in Mo Farah’s amazing performance at this year’s Olympics. His coach, Alberto Salazar, has said that “He was the weakest athlete I’d ever trained — in terms of core strength and being able to do push-ups, sit-ups and single-leg squats. He was a 90lb weakling.” Salazar subsequently went about improving Farah’s strength and control in the upper body.

By adding a few simple bodyweight exercises, your regular park run can also directly tone and strengthen the upper body, core and legs, improve posture, balance and physical confidence.

3 great exercises for runners

Here is a list of 3 exercises we teach in our Calisthenics for Runners workshop. They are part of a group of 25 simple exercises our clients learn that help develop upper and core body strength, tone muscle and improve posture.

Arm Drives

Arm Drives are a great way to develop a conditioned upper body that stabilises your torso and transfers power through the hips and legs. To perform them, you stand with your elbows by your sides, arms bent to 45-degrees. Drive alternating arms forward and backwards as fast as possible for 30 seconds.


A ground based exercise that work core stabilisers, gluteals, hamstrings and erector spinae. This exercise improves core stability and encourages use of the gluteal muscles and avoids the quadriceps dominating when running. Particularly good for those who want to start running. Lie on your back, feet flat on the ground. Push hips up towards the sky, hold briefly, then lower.

Rear Lunge

Develops quadriceps, gluteals, hamstrings and hip flexors. Step back with one leg while bending supporting leg. Lower body by bending knee and hip of supporting leg until knee of rear leg is almost in contact with floor. Step up and forwards to return to original standing position. Repeat movement with opposite legs alternating between sides. Can be performed after your park run to help tone legs.

Muddy Plimsolls’ Calisthenics for Runners Workshop

Calisthenics originated as a serious athletic development programme for the ancient Greeks. Intended to increase body strength and flexibility by mastering movement – bending, jumping, twisting, pulling, pushing – usually using only one’s body weight for resistance. Muddy Plimsolls combines the biomechanical efficiency and muscular development of strength training, with athletic ability and postural awareness and control. This combination produces a natural, full-body workout.

Our unique 2 hour Workshop is a complete guide to developing full body strength and conditioning for the commuting runner or park runner or those that want to start running. Enjoy a crash course in our personal training system of 100+ calisthenic, plyometric & agility exercises.

1. Jung AP. The impact of resistance training on distance running performance. Sports Med. 2003;33(7):539-52.
2. Millet, GP, Jaouen, B, Borrani, F, Candau, R. Effects of concurrent endurance and strength training on running economy and .VO(2) kinetics. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Aug;34(8):1351-9.
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