How Strength training will improve your running without bulking you up.
I have written a number of posts on the importance of strength training for runners but the point needs hammering home. To be good runners we need to be good as athletes, be able to move fast and with stability and strength. We need strength training to be able to withstand too, the rigours of the miles and we also need strength training to counteract the catabolic (eating your own muscles) nature of long distance running not to mention for those north of 40 that we tend to lose muscle mass anyway as well as we age.
Strength training is anabolic in nature meaning it is building the strength in the body and I know many of you will say "Yes but I don't want to bulk up" and believe me for runners it's actually really hard to "bulk up" and with the right type of strength training and targeting the right areas you won't be building bulk but stability and strength and even explosive power to run faster, depending on your training program. To bulk up you actually need a lot of food and a heavy weights so stop worrying about that. Bulking up is also very dependent on your genetics.
Being stronger also means less injuries. Picture in your mind's eye a very weak person who has never trained anything then picture this person now trying to run a really fast 1km time trial. It's going to be messy, sloppy, loose and dangerous. Ok so you are an athlete already, you run and you know probably how a runner should look when running, ie what good technique looks like but if you are very weak you won't be able to hold good technique for any period of time.
So what areas do we need to focus on.
Well our entire body's really but ok let's be run specific here. We need to work out our upper body, especially upper back, our core (not just your six pack either), your hips and your glutes and calves.
Ok so what are the best exercises. Well that is deep topic that depends on your level of ability, your goals, your present state but here is a brief list of strength exercises that will benefit your running.
Hollow Body and other mat based core exercises
Compound exercises like thrusters
Lunges in all variation
Work with resistance bands
You don't even need a gym to do most of these, of course you get more variation if you have a gym membership and if you are wanting to do more heavier weights depending on your goals and your situation then this can be of benefit but here is a list of simple home gym equipment that you can get that won't break the bank if you don't have access to a gym
Resistance Bands of all variations
A little equipment can go a long way when combined with body weight exercises.
So how often should you incorporate strength training into your plan. Well again it depends on your goals and current state but generally 2 to 3 times 20 to 30 minutes a week is all you need. You can do your strength sessions at the end of your run sessions even so it's not a completely separate workout.
Next question we often get is well what about Cross Fit, P90X or that type of training. Does that count and is it good?
Yes and No.
Yes if you haven't done anything else this will make you stronger but it's not aimed at runners and many of the exercises you will do will be counter productive to your running and then there is the big risk of injury and getting carried away with the competitive nature of these trainings. Not that they are bad but if you are a runner and running is your priority and focus then just beware a lot of what you may be doing in these sessions may be not be conducive to your running, may even detract from your ability to run long as that next session or train your interval at max ability if you are taking too long to recover from your crossfit class.
So if you are starting to realise you would benefit from the right strength training in the right combination and in a periodised manner so that you can smash your running goals then think about joining our online run training tribe and getting all the pieces of the puzzle. Our five pillars run training program which will include all your run sessions, strength workouts, mobility workouts, nutrition and supplementation guidance and mindset and motivation support.
You can find out all about how we can help you at https://www.lisatamati.com/page/runningpage/ and if you are struggling with injuries or want to avoid injuries then make sure you download our runners injury prevention guide complete with videos and information to get you sorted.