I was recently asked about my thoughts on strength training for runners and my response in a single word: YES!! Strength training provides us with numerous benefits that go so far beyond running so I will do my best to keep this post running-related!!
Runners who wish to see improvements in our sport and participate beyond a recreational level should aim to take a comprehensive approach to their overall health and fitness in addition to simply logging miles! There are many, many amazing benefits that come with strength training!! One of the major benefits for runners is the reduced risk of injury due to increased bone density and stronger connective tissues, joints, and tendons. Intuitively, the more stress one places on the body with regular exercise, the stronger one becomes. Strength training also aids in improving stability throughout the body while also increasing power and running speed through greater force pushing you off the ground as you run!
- Follow a routine, don’t just “wing it.” (Seek out a professional personal trainer if this is something new to you!)
- Focus on form to ensure the moves are being done properly.
- Compound movements, which target multiple muscle groups within one movement, should be given priority. Focusing on one muscle group while neglecting another can lead to imbalances and put runners at a greater risk of injury.
- Align your strength training goals with your running goals whether that means concentrating on building power, boosting endurance, or improving your form.
My personal favorites:
- Squat – primarily a quadriceps exercise, but through stability demand also helps strengthen the core, the hamstrings, and glutes. An excellent variation to work one leg at a time would be the Reverse Lunge.
- Sumo Deadlift – targets the quadriceps, glutes, inner thighs, and hamstrings while also engaging the core. This also helps improve hip mobility and flexibility. A great single-leg variation used to specifically target the glutes and hamstrings is the single-leg deadlift.
- Upper body and core strength is also an important focus for runners! Strong abdominals increase the stability of your hips, pelvis, and even your knees. A strong chest, back, and shoulders will help support proper running position and aid in respiration. Excellent choices include a variety of plank variations, pushups, and weighted rows.
Happy (and strong) running, everybody!!