Weightlifting Benefits For Runners
Have you ever wondered why, even after regularly clocking up miles pounding the trail, treadmill or sidewalk, your running never seems to move on a pace? If this sounds like you, then you need to look at adding some weight training to your running regime. Just 10-20 minutes of strength training a day with free weights or at the squat rack will add a whole new performance dimension to your running and see you powering on to your personal best.
So, whether you are a competition runner, a long-distance enthusiast or simply enjoy the freedom of a regular run outdoors, we take a look at the benefits of lifting weights for runners.
You’ll Pick Up Your Pace
Weightlifting will stress your body, but in a productive way by making it adapt and improve its ability to deal with the extra payload. The result of this extra weight ‘stress’ is a stronger body that can step up when you really need it to. Your lean but pumped leg muscles will add more power to your running strike and increase the distance you can travel on each stride.
Add to the equation stronger shoulders and arms and you will soon see an increase in your speed. The result – faster times on your race card and even a new PB.
You Will Be Less Injury Prone
The risk of strain, especially knee and hip-related, are the downside of being a runner but did you know that many running injuries are the result of muscle weakness or imbalance? But if you lift weights on a regular basis, you can dramatically lower your risk of getting hurt.
A strong core and honed leg muscles in particular will mean you can find and maintain your proper running form…and keep it for longer, therefore reducing the risk of strain, injury and race-ending lower back pain.
Stronger muscles also ensure you have better joint stability, keeping any repetitive strain injury at bay. And we all like to avoid pain so adding regular sessions at the squat rack as part of your running training program will keep you fit, healthy and on your feet.
Improves Your Running Efficiency
Become a more efficient runner and you will see your distance, stamina and run times improve and who doesn’t want that? And this is where regular weight training can really kick in. To get the optimum running posture you need strength and internal support to maintain your form. In short – an efficient running position will see your running efficiency really pick up a pace. Targeted strength training for your upper body muscles – chest, shoulders, arms and upper back – will keep you running tall, stable and in your best running form.
Your Muscles Will Burn More Calories
A healthily lean runner is one of the most efficient and with regular weight lifting, your muscles will burn more calories as you run. This happens because leaner muscle will help to increase your metabolism, and the rate at which your body will burn up energy – aka, calories.
A combination of strength training and aerobic running is a particularly effective way towards managed weight loss and maintaining your optimum weight. And the less fat and more lean muscle you have on your body, the more efficient system your body will be – which can only help your running performance out on the track.
Boost Your Endurance Levels
Adding more ‘positive’ stress to your body through effective and regular weight lifting will really help your body to cope with the physical stress of running. Running, especially long-distance, can be punishing to the body and you need to take the right steps to keep it in tip-top condition for the running challenges ahead.
Stronger, leaner and efficient muscle mass will support your body to perform for longer before it becomes fatigued. Strength train regularly with weights and you will see a significant improvement in your endurance so if long-distance run is your thing, you need to make weight training a regular session in your training life. And, with a stronger body and muscles, you are more likely to prevent muscle cramps or ‘running out of steam’ in the final stages of a run or race.
Build Stronger Bones
As well as boosting performance, efficiency, pace and building injury-reducing muscle, regular sessions at the weight lifting station will ultimately improve your bone health.
Stronger bones are essential for every runner as they reduce the risk of the dreaded stress fracture, which is a common injury, and which can take the runner out the game for some time. By simply putting your bones under stress through the repetitive action of lifting weights will increase their density, making you and your skeletal frame stronger and much more resilient to the impact of the open road.
How To Incorporate Strength Training Into Your Running Program
Now you know what weight training can do for your running performance, here’s a quick guide to how to incorporate it into your training program:
- Save your main strength training for post-run on your moderate exercise days
- Weight training after a moderate run will stop your body becoming too fatigued
- Keep any strength training on a rest day low key as you want your body to recover
- Aim for strength training sessions of around 20 minutes and build up slowly
- Start with basic weight training exercises, focusing on using multiple muscle groups
- Concentrate on your core, legs, lower back and arms/upper body for the right running results
- Gradually build up your reps and difficulty levels as your strength increases
And finally, don’t forget to warm up and cool down after a strength training session to avoid injury and to allow your body to ease into the session. Keep well hydrated and don’t lift on a long-distance run day and you will soon see that nicely honed muscle mass does more than make you look good in a t-shirt and shorts; you will be smashing it out on the running track too.
- Why Strength Training Is So Important for Runners – Runner’s World