For many runners, lifting weights can feel like the last thing they want to do. Naturally, when runners practice strength training, they focus on building leg power. So this often entails two to three weekly sessions with exercises like squats, deadlifts, calf raises, and lunges.
Don’t forget to work out other areas of your body too. While the goal isn’t to be bulky, your whole body plays a role in running, so runners often practice push-ups and tricep dips to help maintain a good posture.
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Why Should Runners Strength Train?
If you find yourself having frequent injuries while running, or if you can’t seem to improve your run times, then the weight room at the gym is one of the first places you need to go. Building muscle is one of the best ways to prevent injuries and improve overall health.
Contrary to popular belief, lean muscle mass might actually help you run faster.
A runner, however, probably will not want to strength train like a bodybuilder does. There is not one method for a runner to use, either. You will want to consider a few factors when developing your strength training plan as a runner.
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Be careful if you are practicing strength training with an injury. Consult with your personal trainer and physician to develop a plan for strengthening the muscles around the injury.
Once it heals, you’ll need to start strength training for the injured muscle. You might also find our explainer on why runners train at high altitudes useful.
What Muscle Groups Should Runners Target?
Runners usually assume that all their strength training should focus on their legs, but the truth is that the leg muscles of many runners are already well developed.
Instead, many runners need to focus on their core and back muscles. Running puts a lot of strain on the lower back and abdominal areas, and failing to strengthen these muscles often means a person will have poor posture. This poor posture will, in turn, lead to issues with the runner’s gait, which can lead to very serious problems down the road.
The way to fix this is to embark on a strength training program incorporating core and lower back exercises. Be sure to start slow and with a low amount of weight.
Many runners assume that because they are in relatively good shape, they’ll be able to progress rather quickly. The truth is that cardiovascular health has relatively little to do with how much weight your body can lift. Remember, appropriate amounts of rest and proper nutrition are also vital.
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