Strength Training for Runners - Why It's So Important

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

Strength-training can make your running program more effective and more enjoyable, whether you're new to running or you've been running for years.

Although strength sessions are excluded from many runners' training programs or treated as occasional cross-training to be carried out on non-running days, it is the backbone of great endurance training.

The ultimate goal for a beginner runner is to make your runs easier and more enjoyable. This happens at different times for different runners, but strength training will definitely speed up the process. Strengthening your leg muscles will help increase your endurance, meaning you can run longer without feeling fatigued. Improving your upper-body strength can also boost your running efficiency. With a stronger core, you'll be able to maintain a stable upper body and better hold your form at the end of a run when you begin to fatigue.

As an experienced runner, the goal is to improve running performance. Some runners are hesitant to strength-train because they think it will make them bulky and slower. However, strength training does just the opposite! Strength training is an essential supplement to a runner’s roadwork because it strengthens muscles and joints, which can improve performance. Strength training by incorporating weights into your regular exercise routine has been proven to increase speed and VO2 max.

As a beginner or an experienced runner, it is crucial to stay injury-free. Strength training can help your muscles, joints and tendons withstand the repetitive forces that your body experiences during running. With muscles that can take on higher loads and take longer to fatigue, your body is better protected.

Whether you're looking to get faster, stronger, learn to enjoy running, or lose weight, including strength training as part of your workout routine can help you achieve your goals.

To get all the benefits of strength training for running outlined above make sure you follow the guidelines below:

1. Choose Functional Specific Exercises

Not all exercises offer the same benefits to running. The strength and neuromuscular improvements from multi-muscle exercises like squats and deadlifts will definitely offer far more to running than single muscle exercises. Single-leg variations, like lunges, pistol squats, and single deadlifts are also important for dynamic stability, which is important for increasing running efficiency.

2. Jump, Jump Jump

Frog jumps, burpees, skaters, explosive jacks, box jumps — basically all forms of explosive bodyweight training called plyometric training. Plyometrics can improve the stretch-shortening cycle of your lower body. When your foot lands with each running stride, your tendons and muscles store elastic energy, which can be utilized for the subsequent push off the ground. The better you utilize this energy, the better your running efficiency becomes.

3. Be Consistent

Just as you would continue to run to keep from getting rusty, you would keep strength training to ensure that the body stays strong throughout the year. Simply dial back the strength-training frequency during racing season to ensure you don't cut into the recovery and performance of your running training.

If you're unsure about how to strength train on your own, taking a group class like FITSQUAD Bootcamp is your solution.

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