All The Small Things to Strengthen Your Runner Butt


Janet has written 27 posts on Salty Running.

I'm a fitness fanatic who was born to run. I have two amazing sons, live in Wyoming (but I'm planning my escape), and plan to keep getting older without ever getting old.

Sir Mix-a-Lot in December 2006

Sir Mix-a-Lot knows what’s important. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Channel your inner Blink 182 and sing with me…

All the small things

Less injury, they bring

Doing clam shells by the stairs

And bridges lets you know I care

Ok, so music isn’t my strength, but I do know a thing or two about the small things we can do to help us become more injury-resistant runners. According to experts like Jay Dicharry, author of Anatomy for Runners, and Jason Fitzgerald of, some of the most basic, easy to perform exercises offer major injury prevention benefits.

The core gets a lot of attention these days in the running world; most runners have added various forms of planks to their training routines. What some runners might not realize, however, is that the core also includes the hips and glutes. Lack of hip strength has been shown to play a part in various running injuries, and like Dr. Jordan Metzl (Runner’s World) says, “A strong butt=a happy life.”

While there are numerous exercises that target the hips and glutes, the following 3 zero in on some of the most important stabilizing muscles.

Clamshell –  Lie on your side and bend your knees to 90 degrees.Keep your feet together and your femurs slightly in front of the midline of your body. Lift the top knee away from the bottom knee using the glutes to initiate the lift, which will engage the external hip rotators. Don’t allow your body to roll backwards as you lift the knee – use your core to keep your body stable. For more of a challenge, place a resistance band around your thighs.

Straight Leg Abduction  – Lie on your side with both legs extended straight. If needed, bend the bottom leg to 90 degrees for added stability. Keep the top leg straight and lift it up and slightly back, using your glutes to lift the leg. Don’t let the body rock backwards as you lift the leg – engage your core to maintain stability.

Glute Bridge – Lay on your back with knees bent and heels on the ground.  Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off the ground until knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line. Hold for 2-3 seconds, then slowly lower your hips back to the ground. Don’t allow your back to arch as you lift the hips. For more of a challenge, place a weighted barbell across your hips, or perform the exercise one leg at a time.

The clamshell and straight leg abduction work the hip rotators and gluteus medius, while the glute bridge goes after the gluteus maximus and a little upper hamstring. None of these exercises require any equipment, and you can lay right down on the floor in front of the tv and get it done during your favorite show. Three sets of about 25 reps each, 3-5 times per week should do the trick.

I’ve been doing these faithfully for almost a year, and the ITBS and hip bursitis that used to frequently sideline me haven’t been a problem. For such a small time investment, the payoff is huge.

What small things have you found to keep you running instead of rehabbing?

5 Responses to “All The Small Things to Strengthen Your Runner Butt”

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  1. Garlic says:

    I’m a big fan of Jay Johnson’s myrtl routine (see and search “myrtl” or “8 week general strength progression”). It takes about 5 minutes, includes hip mobility work along with strengthening exercises and can be used as either a warm-up, a cool-down or an independent hip/butt workout. Definitely helpful for healthy hips and a strong runner’s butt!

  2. Allspice says:

    I like that one too, Garlic. My hubby will even do that one because it’s fairly short.

  3. Garlic says:

    I am trying to get my husband to do it too! :-) I think I’ve almost gotten him to buy in…. I am a total Jay Johnson groupie – I love all his strength routines. They are really fun and they work.

  4. rcreed says:

    I like the MYRTL set of exercises too. As a bonus, the mobility ones are a great pre-run warmup.

  5. Mary Street says:

    Thanks for posting the videos. I need to add these to my routine!

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