Eight week General Strength Progression

If I had to guess, this post will soon become the most popular post on this site. Why? Because the General Strength progression below is the content that I most frequently forward when answering questions on how to improve your running. I put this progression together for Running Times magazine and I think it’s the most valuable work I’ve done for them.

To following along, simply watch the videos below and then click here for the description of sets and reps you do during each phase of the eight week progression.

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  • Chris

    I coach cross country and we used these routines with great success. We started indoor where I am the assistant coach and I had my distance runners do this routine after their run. The Head coach saw them doing the lateral leg raise and told them not to point their toes up or down as this works the hip flexors and they already work those enough with our running workouts.  She is a personal trainer and is very knowledgeable but we had no hip flexor issues in cross country and we ran injury free all year. Coach Johnson I would love to hear your thoughts.

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  • http://coachjayjohnson.com CoachJay
  • http://twitter.com/iowacitylaw Mark Thompson

    Coach Jay, thanks for these videos.  It's just too hard to replicate these exercises with the RT text alone.

  • Ian Simon

    Hi Jay.  Thanks for the nice clear instructions.  I'm about to start coaching a group of youngsters, ages 13-16.  Only get them one night a week, and we're into dark and frequently miserable nights.  They run for about 45 minutes, with efforts capped at 12-13 mins.  
    Would you put something like this as a warm-up, when they're fresh and dry, or after the run, which should be the main focus but may mean they're cold & wet?

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  • Blake

    I love this progression, but I was wondering about the best time to have my athletes do this.  As a coach it can be hard to insure that the runners are doing everything they need to during the summer, but I didn’t know if this could be too much for some while in the competitive portion of our season.  If not, how often do you recommend doing this routine? Once a week? Three times a week?  I was wondering if I could get your take on all of that.

  • http://coachjayjohnson.com CoachJay

    Hi Blake.

    Check out the PDF from this presentation – http://www.coachjayjohnson.com/2012/01/2012-oatccc-clinic/.  The General Strength and Mobility for a high school 1,600m runner is laid out in PDF included in that post.

    Then, after going through that progression, you have questions, I’ll be happy to help you in the comments section of the http://www.coachjayjohnson.com/2012/01/2012-oatccc-clinic/ post.

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  • http://www.royalessays.com/essay_writing_tips essay writing tips

    fantastic advice. Thank you very much for the exciting discussion. I enjoy the points reviewed.

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    Love it. Great point

  • Andrea

    Do you perform part 1 in the series for 2 weeks? When I click on the part 2 video, it starts with week 3 and 4. Just want to make sure I am doing it right. Thanks!

  • http://coachjayjohnson.com CoachJay

    Yes – the second video shows you what to do for two weeks worth of work – weeks 3 and 4. The the third video shows you what to do for weeks 5 and 6, then video 4 shows the work for weeks 7 and 8.

    You can check out a list of each week at this link – http://runningtimes.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=16625

    Best of luck!

  • kp

    Awesome videos! Great to pick and choose exercises that can work for you! Thanks!

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  • Rip

    How do you recommend incorporating this routine into a 20-24 week training cycle? After building the progression to weeks 7/8, do you maintain the grant green, etc. workouts for the rest of the season or do you go back and restart the cycle at week 1?


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  • http://coachjayjohnson.com CoachJay

    Thanks for the question Rip.

    First, the 7-8 level of work is challenging enough that you can maintain that work for another month if need be. Many athletes will be ramping up either volume or intensity of running, so you want to keep the non-running work at a level the athlete can handle.

    But you’re right, you should keep progressing the GSM along with the running increases. I feel very good about the content in the Building a Better Runner series and I feel very good about the content in the Wharton series of DVDs (both can be purchased as downloads if you don’t want DVDs).


    For example, this routine is on Vol.2 of Building a Better Runner.


    You can start with 20-25 sec per exercise and then work up to a minute.

    Finally, I need to come up with longer progressions for people that have a nice 24 week build up for a marathon or series of races. Obviously I do this with the profesional athletes I coach, but I need to do it for the general running populace.

    Thanks for the question and best of luck with your running.

  • Michael G

    Hi Coach Jay!
    I’m only 15, and I am sort-of new to the whole running scene, as I have only been running consistently for about 5-6 months now. I recently found your blog and I think it is an awesome source for me because I’m not on a team(my school only has CC in the fall) or a running group and in need of a little bit of direction I am currently 5 weeks into a 10k training plan for mid-April. I run 5 days a week and transition between all the typical workouts(long runs like 6/7 miles, tempo runs 4/5 miles, easy runs 3/4, long/short hill repeats, 800/400 repeats on the local track- I ride my bike 2 miles to get there) I am VERY interested in general strength progression and just have a few questions about it.. Should I begin now in the middle of my plan when I haven’t been doing any other workouts besides running and the occasional pushup reps? When should I do the workouts? On off days or training days? After or Before? What if I feel REALLY beat after the run? Thanks SO much very this videos series and I hope you can provide some feedback and tips to answer these questions!

  • Suzanne from Michigan

    I run 4 days a week, crosstrain 2, rest 1. How often should I do these routines? 6 days/week (3 easy and 3 hard) or only on days I run or every day?

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  • deadlift

    If you start to like working out at the Gym. Below is a little tool that I just love.

    Percentage Warmup/Working-Set Calculator based on One Rep Max.
    With a smart phone or ITouch/IPad go to Link —:> http://adamryman.com/warmup

    This was a “Late Father’s Day Gift” for me. It’s free for anyone to use.

    2 JPG screen shot examples of how it can be used.



    It was created so I could input my One Rep Max for any Lift and it will tell me what plates I need to use for each set. Where I would be able to adjust the percentage and the number of reps on the fly.

    I’m sure you’re familiar with the below list of percentages/reps.
    Rep range Percent of 1 rep max Training Effect Goal desired
    1-5 reps 85-100% Neural Strength & power little hypertrophy
    6-8 reps 75-85% Neural & metabolic Strength & Hypertrophy
    9-12 reps 70-75% Metabolic & Neural Hypertrophy & some strength
    13-20+ reps 60-70% Metabolic local endurance some hypertrophy, little strength

    Well now you can use http://adamryman.com/warmup to use these and customize your own.

    I’m using it and it really makes what plates to put on the bar a no brainer.

    BTW: Once you change the percentages and or number of reps the url will change, save as a fav/bookmark and it will save the changes you made.

    Please if you know anybody that you think “may like” this forward it on.
    It was created for all to use for free.
    Really please forward to your friends!!

  • http://coachjayjohnson.com CoachJay

    Do this on your run days. I assume two run days are hard and two are easy? If so then you follow the progression.

    Best of luck!

  • Michelle

    I am a bit confused on the timeline of these exercises. This is an 8-week program. What if we would start at 12 weeks or even more? How does the progression go then?

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  • B. Alexander

    I am a Head Coach for Cross Country and the Distance Coach for Junior High Track. I plan on really implementing these over the summer. Just to give you an Idea what I am working with: I was a part of the 2010 team that won our district meet and the next two years the team won districts and placed well at states, due to a loss of a number of seniors we had to work ver hard, be very patient, and adjusting to a new coach is always tough (I was the new coach). We ended up placing 3rd in our district meet which qualified us for the State Meet. With only 1 senior leaving out of our top 8 and a lot of young talent I really would like to see this group make “the Jump” and for my 5 seniors in my top 8 this coming fall to really improve and hopefully reclaim another district title. So my question is based on your schedule in your PDF of the different GSM, for doing these post workout. Do you skip running a cool down and do these GSM? Or Do you combine the GSM with a running cool down? Any advice would be awesome

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  • Dennis Valverde

    Great Videos Jay Thanks for Sharing

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  • Jim Moore

    The link to the description of sets and reps on Running Times’ site is broken. Do you have that content available elsewhere (or an updated link on Running Times)?

  • http://coachjayjohnson.com CoachJay

    Hi Jim.

    I don’t know what the problem is but I will be in tough with people at Running Times to see if it is going to be fixed.

  • t_wrecks

    Might this be the article/link to the same material?


  • http://coachjayjohnson.com CoachJay

    Thanks for finding the right link – I now have the correct link in the post above.