The Most Essential Kettlebell Workout For Runners

Have you found that you are starting to slow down a bit in your daily runs?

And I mean that literally, and in terms of your progress.

Sometimes, getting out there and running every day isn’t enough, sometimes you need an extra boost by exercising in different ways.

By making use of a kettlebell, you can mold your body into the perfect shape for running. You can improve your strength and agility, so each and every step is more powerful, and each run becomes easier.

So, how do you even start?

Well, luckily, I’ve created the ultimate training routine, with exercises that are essential to helping your running ability, without needing to purchase a gym membership.

Let’s get into it.

How Should We Train To Improve Our Running?

By using kettlebells, we can incorporate various exercises and training regimes into our lives, improving those overlooked aspects of our running ability.

So, how should we use kettlebells to improve these areas of our body and hit those PBs more often?

Intense Resistance Training

Kettlebell workout for runners - female-athlete-lifting-kettle-bell-while-lying

Aerobic exercises are viewed as the dominant exercises for improving your fitness, but anaerobic exercise should not be ignored.

By incorporating intense resistance exercises, we can enhance our athletic ability.

As we start to train with resistance more often and in short bursts, we can improve our capability of storing Glycogen, making it easier on our muscles during exercise.

Overall, training with kettlebells at a high intensity will give us the best of both worlds, helping to improve our energy production in the short term and the long term.

We can therefore expect a major development in our speed, stamina, and consistency when we get out on the track.

Target Lower Body Strength

Kettlebell workout for runners - girl-doing-high-bar-back-squat

It’s pretty blatant that to improve your running ability, then stronger legs can help.

But why is it that you need strong legs, rather than relying on your fitness?

Well, whether you are sprinting or running long distances, having a pair of powerful legs can maximize the force and energy in your legs, helping you move faster and a lot more efficiently.

This means, with stronger legs, you are using less of those energy stores at once, meaning you can run for longer.

As well as this, the strength in your legs makes resisting gravity and driving your feet to the ground a lot quicker, so you can take your next step earlier than you ever could before.

Injury is an extremely common concept in running, so making sure to train your legs consistently will help to improve the strength of the muscle fibers in areas that are likely to strain or break, so you can decrease the likelihood of getting hurt.

And Don’t Forget About Upper Body Strength!

Kettlebell workout for runners - man-holding-kettlebell-above-head

So many people I know, whether they are just getting started in running or seasoned veterans, skimp on the upper body exercises when trying to get better at running.

Especially if they are aiming to improve at long-distance running.

Whilst it shouldn’t be at the top of your workout list, exercising your upper body is so important for any type of run.

Hey, I wouldn’t skip an upper body exercise when I was getting ready for a marathon!

Your upper body is a major aspect of your balance, agility, and coordination. Without a strong upper body, you cannot provide your legs the support and energy transfer they need, meaning you are running a lot less efficiently, making it harder to get quicker.

Related Post: Does Core Training Help Running

My Ultimate Kettlebell Workout For Runners

1 Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell workout for runners - man-begining-a-kettlebell-swing

Kicking off this workout, we are going with the trusty kettlebell swing to get our whole body working.

Now, this exercise is one of the best for improving athleticism, strengthening, and building muscle, in your glutes, back, abdominal muscles, and shoulders… It might just be easier to state the muscles it doesn’t train.

The kettlebell swing is one of those exercises that doesn’t just require your power to lift the kettlebell either but requires a lot of energy and stamina to keep the intensity high throughout the movement, resulting in a boost in your aerobic capacity.

So, whilst you can expect to build power in your legs and hips to make running a lot more explosive, a kettlebell swing will also help to condition your body for endurance, stability, and many other aspects that go hand-in-hand with running.

How To Do It

  1. Start by standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, and the kettlebell in a 2-handed overhand grip.
  2. With the kettlebell hanging between your legs, bend your knees slightly and push your butt backward, hinging at the hips. 
  3. Engage your core and keep your arms and torso straight.
  4. Driving through your glutes, explode the weight upwards, aiming to push the weight in line with your shoulders.
  5. When the kettlebell reaches this position, hold it for a second, tensing your back and squeezing your glutes.
  6. Control the weight back to the original position, following the path of the swing.
  7. As it swings through, start to use your hips to begin driving the weight back up, preventing your body from resting between reps.
  8. Aim to do 15-20 reps, for 3 sets. Rest for 60 seconds between sets.

2a Walking Kettlebell Lunge

Kettlebell workout for runners - a-man-performing-a-bodyweight-lunge

Next up in our routine is the first of the two exercises in a very, very intensive superset.

The walking kettlebell lunge is an excellent functional exercise, best for increasing the strength in your legs, whilst helping your abdominal muscles strengthen for balance and agility.

Don’t knock this exercise for its help with endurance either.

Adding this walking aspect to the lunge helps boost our body’s aerobic capability and ups our fitness levels ready for our running.

Overall, the walking lunge is one of the top movements you can do to make your running more powerful, help keep yourself stable, and decrease the likelihood of injury ten-fold.

It is also well-known for helping your heart stay healthy, decreasing the chance of developing cardiovascular disease.

How To Do It

  1. First of all, start with either a kettlebell in each hand or if this is not possible, hold a single kettlebell in 2 hands, next to your chest.
  2. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, core engaged, and torso upright.
  3. Take a step with your right foot about a meter forward. Plant this foot.
  4. Bend the right knee, lowering your body until your leg is at a right angle, or your thigh is almost horizontal with the ground.
  5. Your back must remain straight, and you must allow your left heel to raise off the ground slightly, with a slight bend in the left knee. Do not allow it to touch the ground as this reduces intensity.
  6. Then, drive through the right heel, pushing your body back upwards until the leg is extended. Exhale through this movement.
  7. Now, step the left foot about a meter ahead of the right foot, and repeat the exercise.
  8. You should perform 10 reps on each leg for a set, for 3 sets (Between each set, perform exercise 2b).

2b Goblin Squat Jumps

Kettlebell workout for runners - man-demonstrating-a-kettlebell-goblet-squat

Another staple in my, and my clients, lower body routines is the goblin squat jumps.

Having this compound movement, combined with the explosive plyometric of the jump, is the perfect exercise for building power in the legs and helping to run more efficiently.

And by super setting it with the walking lunge, I can guarantee you will feel the burn in this intensive routine and achieve a lot more improvements in your endurance and aerobic capability.

The thing that’s great about doing the goblin squat and using a kettlebell means we can improve our depth from an ordinary squat, helping to increase the range of motion and improve various aspects such as balance, agility, and flexibility. 

All of these are necessary skills if you want to be a better runner.

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How To Do It

  1. Start by holding the kettlebell to your chest in both hands.
  2. Stand tall, with your feet facing forward, shoulder-width apart.
  3. Engage your core, keep your back straight and plant your feet.
  4. By bending at the knees, lower your butt to the ground. Try to get as much depth as possible and inhale throughout this movement.
  5. As you reach the bottom of this exercise, pause for a second, squeezing your quads.
  6. Then drive through your heels and glutes, pushing your body up towards the ceiling and extending your legs while exhaling.
  7. As you reach the point of full leg extension, continue driving through, jumping as high as you possibly can.
  8. When you land, go straight into repeating the squat.
  9. Repeat for 15 reps, for 3 sets. Rest for 90 seconds after this exercise. Then repeat the superset.

3 Single-leg Deadlift

Kettlebell workout for runners - pregnant-woman-doing-single-leg-dumbbell-deadlift

Next in our routine designed for the runners out there is a little variation to the ordinary deadlift.

With a single-leg deadlift, we can isolate the muscles in each leg, helping to improve our overall strength and power, making every single step in our run more efficient.

As well as helping with the explosivity in our legs, the single-leg deadlift also helps to train the posterior chain of muscles, meaning we can experience a greater sense of agility and flexibility in our day-to-day life, and in our running.

Some of my favorite added benefits of this exercise are its ability to help with stability and coordination.

Throughout the movement, your abdominal muscles must stay active, helping to keep you steady on one foot.

This will transfer to your running, keeping you stable and transferring energy to your legs to make running a lot quicker and a lot easier.

How To Do It

  1. Start with a kettlebell in each hand, with your legs facing forward, shoulder-width apart.
  2. Then, bend both knees slightly, and lift your left foot an inch off the ground.
  3. Engage your core and keep your torso as straight as possible. Hold the kettlebells in front of each leg.
  4. Hinging at the hips, start bending forward, extending your left leg behind you, and lowering the kettlebells to the ground. You must keep your back straight.
  5. When your upper body is parallel to the floor, and you can no longer move forward without falling over, pause for a second.
  6. Drive through your working glute, pushing your body back upright and swinging your hips through. Do not lower your left foot.
  7. Repeat the movement for this leg for 10 reps, then switch for 10 reps. This is 1 set. Perform 3 sets, resting for 90 seconds between each set.

4 Kettlebell Incline Pushups

Kettlebell workout for runners - man-doing-close-hand-push-ups-with-kettlebell

The final exercise in this routine is the one that helps us target the chest and abdominal area perfectly.

That’s right. As I mentioned earlier, your upper body is extremely important for helping you run a lot more efficiently and enhancing the power in the swinging of your arms so you can run quicker.

With this movement, we are adding the incline for intensity.

So not only are we resistance training with our body weight, and improving our upper body strength, but we are adding that little bit of extra range of motion so our muscles experience a lot more stress, and our core muscles must work harder to remain balanced.

Overall, we can expect our core to be a lot stronger, so we remain a lot more stable when running, and the flexibility in our hips can improve so we can take longer strides. 

How To Do It

  1. Place 2 kettlebells on the ground, about hip-width apart.
  2. Get into the plank position, with your hands on each kettlebell.
  3. Engage your core and keep your torso straight.
  4. By bending your elbows, lower your chest as close to the ground as possible.
  5. At this point, pause for a second, and then drive back to your original position.
  6. Repeat for 15 reps for 3 sets, and then perform a final set until failure. Rest for 90 seconds between each set.


So there we have it.

The best workout you can do to help enhance your running capability, and improve in areas that may have made you stagnant.

Best of all, you can perform this workout without the need for a gym membership. If working out from home interests you, then make sure you check out my E-book, “Train Wherever The F*ck You Want”, for free tips and tricks to working out anywhere in the world.

So, what exercises do you do when training for running?

Are there any you would change in this workout?

Let me know in the comments below.