Let’s answer the question, “why do runners need strength training?”
There are so many benefits you’re going to want to start as soon as you hear this!
General strength training has value, but runner-specific strength training improves performance and reduces injury risk, which is something we have discussed previously on the podcast.
Of course, there is some carryover, if you are beginning strength training, you will get stronger, and likely develop some muscle in the process.
Still, runners strength train for different reasons; to get faster, to run longer, to avoid injury, maybe to lose fat, or to increase confidence. Runner-specific strength training can help you produce these results
Strength training is critical to improving running economy. We often don’t equate strength training to faster running.
It is also important in improving pronounced muscular imbalances that a majority of endurance athletes deal with. This includes the intrinsic core, as well as upper and lower body imbalances.
Strength training helps prevent injury by helping the musculoskeletal system more readily adapt to the stresses of running and other sports.
Strong muscles produce more force, which allows you to run faster. There is no downside to building stronger muscles; there is only an opportunity to improve.
Runners sometimes worry that strength training will make them bulky and will slow them down, but runner-specific strength will not put on bulk.
You have to train very specifically to pack on a lot of muscle and it doesn’t happen easily or by accident. Real talk: I wish it did!
A strong core, which includes all the muscles under your chest and above your thighs, allows you to hold an upright posture for a longer time.
As weak muscles become fatigued, you begin to slump over, which impacts your efficiency, performance, and increases injury risk.
Building the muscles that you use to run such as your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves can help give you the strength to run longer.
Runners need to strengthen muscles in all three planes of motion.
If you don’t specifically train the muscles that you don’t strengthen while running, they become weak and can lead to muscle imbalances that cause inefficient running form.
Runner-specific strength training includes training in the frontal plane (lateral side-to-side movements like a side lunge), the transverse plane (rotational actions like a lift and chop), and the Sagittal plane (forward and backward motion like a forward or back lunge).
Unilateral exercises train one side of the body at a time to help build independent strength and help prevent muscle imbalances from the right to the left side. Try single-leg deadlifts, lunges, single-arm rows for unilateral training.
AID MUSCLE AND METABOLISM
Muscle tissue burns more calories at rest than fat, which means when you build muscle, you increase your metabolism.
If you only run and don’t strength train, you may lose muscle while you lose weight.
Even though the number on the scale may be lower, this loss of muscle tissue can negatively impact your running performance, decrease your metabolism, and make it harder to maintain weight loss.
Runners who don’t need to lose weight will benefit from working to preserve their muscle mass.
When you gain muscle and lose fat while maintaining approximately the same weight, you improve body composition, which helps running performance.
It will also help maintain lean muscle mass and increases in bone density. As a plus – can help with age-related decreases.
Strength training builds confidence that translates to your running performance and life.
There is no downside to getting stronger– you feel better, you look better, and you perform better.
While they are other ways to build confidence, getting stronger is a sure-fire way to get there, right?!
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