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Strength Training for Runners

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Strength Training for Runners

Strength Training is a crucial but often overlooked part of training for runners of all disciplines. Whether you’re a complete beginner running for fun or training for a race, strength training is recommended for all runners.

In this guide we’re going to cover the following:

  • Benefits of Strength Training
  • Muscles/Areas to target.
  • Strength Training Exercises to try.
  • Tips & Tricks

Benefits of Strength Training

Injury Prevention:

An injury could set you back days, if not weeks during a training period. One of the key benefits of strength training is reduced injury risk.

Strengthening muscles and connective tissues will help to absorb some of the force that causes damage and wear to the joints. This helps to prevent common running injuries such as those to the lower back and knees.

Improved running economy:

Having stronger muscles means your body won’t become fatigued as quickly during exercise. A strong core creates better form and saves energy that might otherwise be wasted trying to stabilize key muscle groups, making you a more efficient runner.

Run faster:

Strength training might help you be a more efficient runner, but does it make you faster? Maybe.

If running economy is improved this means you need to use less energy to run at the same speed as before. In theory, this should mean you’re also able to run faster and longer than before.

Reduces boredom:

As well as the physical benefits, incorporating strength training into your workout or training schedule can help keep things varied and interesting. It may also help you to stick to a training plan.

Muscles/Areas to target

If we’ve managed to persuade you to give strength training a go, then here are the 5 key muscle groups you should focus on.

Core:

The core muscles are those that influence pelvic, hip and spine position, including the abdominals.

Building a strong core is crucial for runners and has many benefits. A strong core can improve posture, speed, balance, and reduce the risk of injuries.

Core strength is especially important toward the end of longer runs when your body is fatigued, a strong core will help you to maintain good form.

Glutes:

Strong Glutes provide strength and stability around the hips and pelvis. Maintaining control of these also helps to keep good posture.

The glutes can commonly become inhibited by tight hip flexors. This can lead to tight hamstrings and lower back, poor posture, knee injuries and sometimes shin pain.

Quads & Hip Flexors:

The Quads are a group of four long muscles making up the front of the thigh. Weak hip flexors can cause tight quads leading to poor posture and muscle imbalance affecting the knees, hips, pelvis and lower back.

Hamstrings:

Hamstrings make up most of the muscles in the back of the thigh, their role is to extend the hips and flex the knees.

Weak hamstrings can cause imbalance in the hips and knees leading to injury.

Calf Muscles:

The Calf muscles will always be worked hard during running however, they can take a long time to build up. Weak and overworked Calf muscles can cause Achillies tendon injuries.

Strength Training Exercises to try

Here are a few of the exercises we think work best to target the muscles used specifically in running.

Mountain Climbers: Work the whole body, great for enhancing core stability.

Forward & Reverse Lunges: Improve balance and mobility, work the core, glutes, and hamstrings.

Walkouts: Work the whole body and stretch out the leg muscles.

Plank: Work the core muscles.

Squats: Strengthen glutes.

Glute Bridges: Great for the glutes and core.

Leg Raises: Help build core strength.

Tips & Tricks

So, you’ve decided to start strength training, and you’ve picked your exercises. Now, here are some of our top tips to help you stick with it and get the most out of your training.

Schedule strength training workouts for easy run days:

Trying to do your strength training after a long run can put too much pressure on the body. Instead, schedule strength training for a day when you only plan a short run.

Always do your run first, this can either be directly before or a few hours before- it’s up to you.

Work With a Trainer:

If you’re new to this, you may find it helpful to have a session with a personal trainer who can show you how to perform your chosen exercises correctly. They can make sure you’re in the correct start position and have good form and may also show you how to use equipment like resistance bands.

Vary routine:

Making sure you vary your strength workouts will make them more effective and keeps things interesting and you’re more likely to stick with it.

Make sure to include lower body, upper body, and core workouts to hit all of the major muscle groups. Also make sure to increase difficulty as you improve.

Make it Fun:

Another way to ensure you stick to your routine is to make it fun. Listen to music, enlist a friend to workout with you, whatever makes it more fun.

Follow a plan:

Using a workout app or following a training plan will make it easier for you to stick to your training. Having things planned our ahead of time takes away the hassle of decision making. It also can be helpful to have an end goal to work towards as motivation.

Strength Training Gear from XMiles

Although you can do all of this at home, it can be helpful to have a few small pieces of equipment to help you out.

RockBand Flex 

Available in 3 resistance weights (light, medium, heavy) the Rockband from RockTape allows athletes of any fitness level to build muscle and improve performance.

Made from a cotton/nylon blend the RockBand is extremely durable and doesn’t catch on skin and hair as easily as traditional latex resistance bands.

Squat Band- Mad Fitness 

Squat Bands are a great way to add a little extra difficulty to a regular squat, ideal for building glute and leg muscles. The Mad Fitness Squat Bands are available in 3 sizes so you can find your perfect fit.

Mini Power Loops- Set of 5 

The Mini Power Loop resistance bands can be used for a variety of exercises. Available in a set of 5 different strengths allowing you to increase the difficulty of your workouts as you build strength.

 

Related Articles:

Effective Strategies to Prevent Running Injuries 

Tips to Prevent and Treat Runner’s Knee

The Importance of Warming Up before Running

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