Best Gym Machines For Runners & Gym Machine Workout Plan

by Сашка

While many runners will agree nothing beats running outside, gym workouts can have a positive impact on your running.

We’ve previously covered why runners should strength train here, and in this blog we’ll be looking at the best gym machines for runners.

We’ve asked PureGym Cluster Manager, Personal Trainer, and runner, Chris Collett, to share everything runners need to know about gym machines.

Benefits Of Gym Machines For Runners

It can be easy to get caught up in the idea that to run better, you need to run more, and while this is true to a certain extent, too much running and not enough cross training has its risks.

The main benefit of cross training for running is that it allows you to train more, without risk of injury. Adding gym machine exercises to your training has plenty of specific benefits, including:



  • Easy to use

    One of the biggest benefits of using gym machines vs other types of gym workouts like free weights exercises is that they follow a fixed pattern of movement. This makes it easier to train the intended muscles, and reduces the risk of injury.

  • Strengthens muscles used in running

    While running is a great form of exercise, it doesn’t work all muscles equally. Some muscles, like the calves, hip flexors, hamstrings and quads can be at risk of overuse and injury due to their heavy involvement in running.

    Training these muscles through other forms of exercise like leg machines allows you to increase strength and endurance to reduce the risk of overuse injuries and can also help to improve running performance.  It also allows you to work the muscles through a greater range of motion, which again can help to prevent injury.

  • Reduces muscular imbalances

    Where the lower body muscles are at risk of overuse in running, many muscles are neglected entirely in running. You can use gym machines to strengthen these muscles and prevent muscular imbalances, which can lead to better posture and mobility, and reduced pain.

  • Strengthens bones and ligaments

    Resistance training improves bone density and strengthens tendons and ligaments in the joints, all which can help with overall physical health and injury prevention.

How Often Should Runners Train At The Gym?

The ideal frequency of gym workouts for runners depends heavily on how often you are running. For most casual runners, 2-3 gym workouts a week can complement their running schedule without impacting performance. For heavy runners or those training for an event like a marathon, once a week is more realistic.

When factoring in your workouts, remember to have at least one full rest day a week, and avoid gym workouts the day before your longer runs.

What Is The Best Cardio Machine For Runners?

Running is an excellent form of cardio, so most runners won’t need to spend too much time working on their cardio at the gym.

However, there are two cardio gym machines runners can benefit from training on:



  • The treadmill is a useful tool for runners as you have complete control over the speed, incline, and duration of your runs. This makes it ideal for interval running workouts and for simulating race conditions. It’s also an easy way to track your running pace. 

  • Elliptical trainer

    The elliptical trainer offers a low impact alternative to running while engaging similar muscles, and it’s a great way to increase the frequency of your cardio workouts without adding extra stress on the lower body joints. It’s also a suitable alternative for most run related injuries as a way to keep training if you need a break from running.

    Get elliptical trainer workouts here.

Read also:
Everything You Need To Know About Strength And Conditioning

Best Weight Machines for Runners

Strength training is key for runners, and resistance training machines are great for beginners and experienced gym goers alike.

Resistance machines that will benefit runners are:

Lower body

Add these lower body gym machine exercises to strengthen the muscles worked in running:



  • Calf raise machine

    The calves are responsible for push off during each stride, and the Achilles tendon is exposed to a lot of impact during your runs. The calf raise machine is a great way to strengthen the calf muscles and train the Achilles to handle heavy load.

  • Leg extension machine

    The leg extension strengthens the quads through their full range of movement. As the quads, or quadriceps, help to power your stride and stabilise the knee, strengthening these muscles through targeted exercises like the leg extension machine can help running power and reduce the risk of injury.

  • Leg curl machine

    The hamstrings are another muscle which helps to stabilise the knee joint. Leg curls isolate the hamstrings and improve the strength and stability of the muscles and attached tendons, helping to reduce risk of common injuries like hamstring tendinopathy.

  • Leg press

    The leg press is the gym machine version of a squat and can build overall lower body strength and power. It allows the leg muscles and glutes to be exposed to heavy loads and trains ankle, knee, and hip extension, movements which are all used in running.

Upper body

These upper body resistance machines help to strengthen the muscles neglected in running:



  • Lat pulldown machine

    The lat pulldown machine enhances overall upper body strength and can help to improve posture, contributing to improved running efficiency and reduced fatigue over long distances.

  • Seated row machine

    Similar to lat pulldowns, the seated row machine is great for improving posture and increasing upper body strength.

  • Chest fly machine

    The chest fly machine simultaneously strengthens and stretches the pectorals and can help to improve a hunched posture and relieve a stiff upper body.

Full Body Gym Machine Workout For Runners

Here is a gym machine full body workout for runners you can try. Begin by warming up with some dynamic stretches, and finish with some cooldown stretches like these stretches for runners. 



  1. Elliptical trainer – 20 minutes moderate intensity

  2. Calf raises – 5 x 5 reps with a heavy weight

  3. Leg press – 3 x 10-12 reps with a moderate weight

  4. Lat pulldown – 3x 8-10 reps with moderate weight

  5. Chest fly – 3x 12-15 reps with light weight

You can get more workout plans in our workout hub here, or for tailored advice why not work with one of our Personal Trainers?

Find your nearest gym to get started today.

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