For runners, weightlifting is often a highly contested topic, with many believing lifting weights is detrimental to running training. This is due to the additional weight that muscle mass adds, however, strength training can be beneficial for runners. Below we look at why and how you can add weightlifting to your run training program successfully.
The biggest benefit of adding weightlifting to your run training is that strong, coordinated, athletic bodies are less likely to sustain injuries. Additional strength allows for more power output and improves endurance as muscles do not get as fatigued. Another benefit of strength training is the improvement of your running form, built through the stability weightlifting requires.
Weightlifting doesn’t necessarily require purchasing weights or attending a gym. Instead, many of the beneficial strength workouts for runners can be done with just your bodyweight, or by using resistance bands and a small set of dumbbells. For example, push ups are a great tricep workout, and squats help to build the quads, glutes, and hip flexors. In fact, bodyweight strength training is low impact, which is a great way to stay strong in the lead-up to race day.
While there is no one-size-fits-all training schedule a good rule is to add in at least two strength training sessions a week. However, it is important to avoid strength training on days you have a hard run. You also want to avoid the day before and the day after as well. This means if you have plans to do sprints or a tempo run on Wednesday, strength training should not happen on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. You should aim to add weightlifting into your training on easy run, or recovery run days. Or, you can choose to add weightlifting on days you don’t run at all, just be aware that this can cause more muscle fatigue as your body does not have a day off.
What weightlifting exercises are beneficial and how do they help?
A good squat works your legs and core while also helping with flexibility in your hips. Stronger legs and core can help your running form, and improve your run time. To perform a squat follow the steps below:
Ideally, you should perform 2 or 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
A lunge works similar muscles to squats but adds more movement to the workout which improves balance. To properly perform a lunge follow the steps below:
Perform 2 or 3 sets of 10 repetitions (one repetition is both sides, so 2 lunges).
The plank is a dreaded exercise for many, but is brilliant for building core strength and improving form. To perform a plank, follow these steps:
Be sure to keep your body as straight as possible to work the correct muscles.
By adding the above weightlifting exercises to your run training program you can ensure your body is strong and ready to perform for race day. Other exercises to add can include push-ups, pull ups, tricep dips, single-leg deadlifts, and lateral lunges.