Its been well documented that strength training can make massive improvements in a runner's speed, stamina, and overall performance as well as helping them stay injury-free.
But its still something many runners just don't make the time for and still prioritise getting the miles in over some gym work.
Many runners still believe that strength training will ‘bulk them up’ and will slow them down but they couldn’t be more wrong... you don't need to lift massive weights to strengthen the body. Just a couple of targeted exercises could have massive benefits for your running performance without even visiting a gym.
So what are the benefits of strength training for runners?
A) One of the biggest benefits of strength training is injury prevention. A huge number of people have large imbalances in their bodies. That's imbalances in strength from left to right, tight muscles, structural imbalances, and injuries we may have been carrying for years.
Strength training can help to rectify these imbalances and effectively the stronger you get the more resilient your body becomes.
Using strength training to balance your body, improve core strength and the stability of joints will have a knock-on effect to how often you get injured.
With my running clients, I always focus on strengthening the hips and glutes which in turn helps to reduce the risk of injury in the hip, knee, and ankles.
B) Efficiency and stamina when running (especially long distances) is very important. At the end of a long run, many of you would have felt your form completely go and your posture start to fall forward.
Your core stabilises every part of your body. If your core is weak you will fatigue quickly and your body movements are likely to be rather inefficient.
When we talk about the core we mean more than just your abs. In fact, you can have a strong core without even having visible abs (6 pack muscles).
We are talking about everything from your shoulders down to your hips and butt. Having this strength through the whole area will keep your body strong and help to hold a good posture for running.
It will also allow you to breathe efficiently if everything is well supported and in the correct alignment.
Try some simple exercises like - Plank, glute bridges, Russian twists.
C) Every runner has a need or want to move faster, taking seconds off your PB or to just cover more distance in a shorter time. But all runners will know that it's easier said than done.
Strength training will build muscles (not bulk) in the right areas which will translate to stronger muscles. In particular, we are looking at the power and a greater force or output from those muscles, thus helping to create more speed.
try some kettlebells swings, box jumps, and deadlifts to increase power in the legs.
D) Strength training can actually lead to weight loss. Muscle weighs more than fat and bone and as you build lean muscle mass this will raise your metabolism and could help you to reduce fat.
E) When running is easier its normally more enjoyable to do so the quicker you strengthen your body the easier running will be. This is particularly great for anyone who is new to running and has felt the muscle soreness and general aches and pains of getting into a running regime.
Doing strength training on a day instead of a run will also give the body a day or two rest from the impact the running can have on a body that isn't conditioned to running yet.
So if you are a runner who has not yet started a strength training program I hope the above has given you enough reasons why you now should.
Founder of TONIQ
What strength training exercises would you recommend for runners? Let us know in the comments below. Share this with someone who you know would benefit from reading this. The U Perform family loves sharing ideas and encouraging each other.