In order to save time and get in as many miles as possible, runners often skip strength training. I have learned how important strength training is to losing weight, maintaining weight and improving my athletic performance. I have not done any of my strength moves (other than lifting boxes) for a week, so I am writing this post partially to myself as a reminder to get back into my routine. I am planning to do some simple strength moves this evening when I get home from work. Here is some motivation for myself and anyone else who needs a push to pick up the weights!
Three reasons to strength train are:
(1) To build more muscle which burns more calories – even when you are doing nothing. This is crucial for your metabolism.
(2) You will be able to go longer and harder in whatever you do. A study published last year in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that runners who add three days of resistance training exercises to their weekly program increase their leg strength and enhance their endurance.
(3) You’ll avoid injury. Strengthening the muscles around the joints and muscles you use for running will help keep you balanced and take the pressure off those over-trained areas of your body.
Good strength training moves for athletes include balancing exercises. This engages your core muscles to stabilize you in everything you do. You can do exercises on a Bosu ball, or perform one-legged moves like squats, deadlifts and lunges. One upper body move that I picked up from Deena Kastor is to take an 8 lb. weight in each hand and pump your arms in the same motion as when you run. This makes your arms faster when running without the weights, thus increasing your turnover.
The main areas I focus on for running is my low back, core, hamstrings, gluetes, and quads. But, I generally do 3 full-body strength training sessions a week to stay balanced and keep my metabolism going.
Strength Training for Runners