By Kirsten Rice
In any sport or activity, strength training can help reduce injury, but it also improves performance. Choosing the correct type of strength training for your sport is key to obtaining these gains.
Some runners may be hesitant to put on muscle mass when training for a run thinking it might slow them down; but if the correct frequency, intensity, time and type of strength training exercises are chosen it can actually help prevent injuries and build speed. Strength training for runners is different than your standard strength training workout.
“Instead of pushing weight away from the body with bicep curls, leg extensions, and bench presses, runners should focus on targeting the key muscles that will keep them balanced and moving forward.” (Runners World, 2020)
- Frequency – In addition to training runs, a strength training routine should be performed 2-3 times per week, but once per week would be an improvement over doing nothing.
- Intensity – Runners should not try to lift as heavy as possible. More repetitions at a lighter weight will create better muscular endurance and long lean muscles. Aim for 15-20 repetitions for each exercise and work up to 2 sets.
- Time – A strength training routine can take as little as 20 minutes or as long as 60 minutes. Start with a time that is doable to fit into your training schedule. Make is a priority so that it does not get cut when time runs out or as training runs get longer. Keep it simple and accessible to do anywhere.
- Type – Running uses the entire body. Multiple muscle groups are firing in your body as you run or jog. Focus on keeping the quadriceps, hamstrings, hips and glutes strong to help with leg drive, stride and to support the joints. Core strength is crucial for maintaining correct running posture and guiding the rotation that occurs around the spine. Finally, do not neglect the upper body. Upper back muscles keep you upright and a strong-arm drive helps to drive the legs faster.
Here are just a few ideas to begin incorporating into a strength routine:
- Lunges stepping forward
- Side Steps/Shuffles
- Back Extensions
- Hip bridge
- Calf raises
- Bent Over Rows
- Reverse Flys
- Plank and Side Plank
Start slowly if you are new to strength training. Seek out advice from your peers, find someone to train with or consider meeting with a Personal Training to get you started. When it comes to cross-training, strength training is an ideal way to help you improve speed and endurance.
Kirsten Rice is the Health and Fitness Director at the Fox West YMCA. She has her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Health Promotion Specialization. She is a certified Personal trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine and a Group Exercise Instructor and has been working in the field for fourteen years. She loves working with clients one on one to achieve their heath and wellness goals and teaching to groups as a fitness instructor. If you would like to talk with Kirsten, you can contact her at [email protected].