Why You Should Resistance Train for Running?
Resistance Training offers a number of benefits to runners. It’s no accident that the best runners in the world all perform strength training and resistance exercises to supplement their running routines AND this has enabled faster, stronger, better runners across the board. Arguably, this has helped many of the world record times for running in all categories to be broken.
Still, some runners are hesitant to visit the gym and prefer the outdoors but this is no excuse to ignore the need for resistance training. The body needs strength training to burn calories, increase lean muscle mass and improve core strength in order to improve running performance.
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One concern runners have is that the gym will make you too bulky and thus reduce your running performance. However, this is not true. Resistance training to build STRENGTH can in fact increase your running efficiency.
Furthermore, the runner does not have to go to gym and lift to gain muscle strength (though strength training through resistance weights is the most effective way of building pure strength), they can even use body weight exercises, to a certain degree, to strengthen the muscles.
Visiting the gym and completing the circuit is a total body workout and the machines are easy to use, but training with free weights and other resistance training tools, such as power bags, will activate core muscles and recruit more muscles and build more strength.
While a machine like a leg press will target the quadriceps, these will be the only muscles that are working. A squat or lunge is a complex exercise as it recruits more muscle groups such as the calves and gluts. Exercises such as push ups, abdominal curls, pull ups, squats, lunges and planks are excellent methods to increase lean muscle mass. The runner’s own body weight is enough resistance to exercise the body properly and it is not necessary to overload the muscles with heavy weights, unless the runner wants to build some bulk.
Other aids such as therabands, fitness circles, kettlebells and dumbbells can be used at home to improve strength. A total body workout can be performed in less than an hour twice per week or the body can be split into different muscles groups on two separate days, depending on the running schedule. Runners can either find a training partner or personal trainer for motivation in order to focus on proper posture during these exercise sessions. It is helpful to follow a program that can be updated every few weeks in order to improve strength and stability. Usually a six week resistance program is followed before weights change or exercises are progressed, but this depends on the number of times that the runner does resistance training.
Strengthening the muscles in the legs with squats, lunges and leg curls will create a balance around the leg and this should prevent muscle imbalance and injury if a proper training program is followed. Arm strength will help to propel the body up hills and make the runner look more balanced from an aesthetic point. Many runners have developed legs and less muscle in the upper body and this can look unbalanced.
Benefits of resistance training for runners includes:
- prevent running injuries
- increase lean muscle mass
- improve core stability
- decrease back pain and knee pain
- look better and more toned
- burn calories
- exercise different muscles than running
- change scenery
- learn more about a balanced training program
Running is a great form of exercise when performed in conjunction with a resistance and flexibility training program. Visit the gym, sports club or the fitness websites on the internet for exercises to improve running performance and prevent running injuries.