As a runner, I used to think that my sport was the only thing I needed to do. However, I began learning more about it and realized that there was more to runs than just… actual running. You also need to match it with strength training to reap the full benefits AND MORE.
Surprising, isn’t it? Honestly, even I was because I thought cardio was the only thing I needed, being someone who hated weights and the like. But once I began delving into the benefits of strength training for runners, I now saw why it was worth doing.
If you want to learn more about why strength training is advantageous for runners, read on! I’ll show you why and the things you can do to begin strength training if you haven’t yet.
- 1 The Benefits of Strength Training For Runners
- 1.1 1. Become Even Faster
- 1.2 2. Decrease Your Body Fat and Weight
- 1.3 3. Better Body Composition
- 1.4 4. Prevent Any Injury
- 1.5 5. Strengthen the Core
- 1.6 6. Increases Antioxidants While Decreasing Oxidative Stress
- 1.7 7. Improved Reproductive and Insulin Health
- 1.8 8. Even Better Endurance and Less Fatigue
- 2 Tips to Begin Strength Training
- 3 Wrapping It Up
The Benefits of Strength Training For Runners
So strength training can help with running, huh? How exactly can it do that and why? If you’re not a fan of strength exercises, it’s time to change your mind with these awesome advantages:
1. Become Even Faster
Yes, strength training really does build up your speed, regardless of your distance. This is because strength training increases your leg strength, thus improving the body’s efficiency in using oxygen and energy.
Studies show how weight training has improved and gained running speed in a matter of weeks seeing a significant increase in performance. That’s compared to another group who only did regular endurance training, who had little to no gains.
Researchers have suggested that increased coordination, strength gains, and the neural drive also helps in improved performance.
2. Decrease Your Body Fat and Weight
While strength training doesn’t burn as many calories compared to cardio like running, it helps with fat a lot. Regular strength training helps in losing fat, with your energy burned from your body coming from fat.
How does this help with running?
A lot of runners are familiar with how difficult it can be to lose fat after a while because of the low body fat percentage. So if you’re looking to lose fat better even without the high intensity or distance professional runners have, strength training is a great way to do so.
Plus, the more muscles you have, the more calories you burn. Strength training retains the muscle weight you may lose from running, thus having you lose weight properly and maintain a healthy body composition, which I’ll explain in the next section.
3. Better Body Composition
Strength training enhances one’s overall body composition, WITHOUT the scare of “bulking up.” Contrary to popular belief, elevated muscle mass is NOT detrimental to your running gains.
Actually, too much of running can actually create catabolic environments, degrading muscles and bones, having you actually LOSE muscles in the long run. To counter the muscle degrading, strength training is done, resulting in gains but a blunted anabolic environment.
This means that the balance of both cardio and strength training keeps your body at optimal condition. All the while still giving you the necessary performance you need to reach your running goals.
4. Prevent Any Injury
Strength training can have you get rid of any injuries or nagging pain, as it corrects structural imbalances. With improving your balance and posture, this decreases the risk of injury and any improper motor patterns. That’s why it’s recommended to really work on your quad and glute strength to keep it strong to prevent damage as you run.
Besides this, other exercises that help with overall balance and posture for runs are lunges and squats. They stabilize the entire body to improve your weight distribution. It also decreases chronic pain, especially after you’re used to pounding on the ground intensely from runs.
5. Strengthen the Core
Using the traditional lifts like lunges, deadliest, squats, or bench presses help with core strength. With improved core strength, it lessens the chance of back pain and has you run faster.
Researchers show that one of the best ways to strengthen your core for runs is through squats or Olympic lifts. If not, other exercises like push-ups, squats, chin-ups, or deadlifts can still strengthen your core, lower legs, and back. Other exercises that work on your lower back are also beneficial to your runs, from injury prevention to overall speed.
6. Increases Antioxidants While Decreasing Oxidative Stress
Endurance training like runs is known to produce higher levels of oxidative stress, leading to inflammation. This can really affect your runs in the future, which is why it’s important to prevent and lessen the production of oxidative stress. How can you do that? Through strength training.
With a moderate or heavy strength training program, it can increase your antioxidant levels. As a result, it counters muscle degrading processes from running, minimizing any inflammatory effects from your runs. After all, having intense and repeated runs can cause physical stress and you can’t always continue doing it alone if it hurts you in the long run!
7. Improved Reproductive and Insulin Health
Studies show that runners suffer from poorer reproductive health, resulting in low testosterone levels and fewer sex hormones. One way to combat that (and even low fertility) is through strength training. Strength training helps since it improves hormone levels, also countering oxidative stress running can release.
The same goes with overall insulin health, as strength training can help prevent diabetes AND improve inulin. As a result, you can experience better metabolism, performance, and an overall healthy body inside and out.
8. Even Better Endurance and Less Fatigue
People think that running helps with endurance while strength only focuses on… Well, strength. However, that’s not the case! Strength training can improve the way your body deals with the stress of running, keeping your stamina up with regular exercise.
Because you’re stronger and with healthier muscles, they perform longer before it gets fatigued. It also helps maintain better running form, preventing running plateaus, cramps, or other major issues from long distance running. Just make sure that you avoid overdoing both your strength and running programs!
Tips to Begin Strength Training
Now that you’re familiar with the benefits of strength training for runners, how can you begin doing it? If you’re new to lifting and/or bodyweight exercises, here are some tips to follow:
- When creating a schedule, it’s best that you work strength training into it all year long. Put in mobility and dynamic strength exercise to your routine daily, with at least five to ten minutes of bodyweight exercises. Do these short exercises consistently, focusing on your core, hips, and glutes, and you can find excellent benefits.
- During the off-season, such as winter, this is the best time you can begin incorporating more strength training to your workouts. Go for heavier weights during this time since you’ll be spending more time in the gym than outside running.
- If you plan on doing heavier lifting, I recommend that you do it during moderately-intense running days. Avoid doing the heavy lifting on the days you plan on doing long and/or challenging running sessions to prevent fatigue.
- During your gumming sessions, don’t try getting away from the heavier weights! You DON’T bulk up just because you lift heavy, this is quite an effort that won’t usually happen for runners.
- Go for more “traditional” strength moves with heavier weights you CAN lift, such as deadliest, squats, and bench presses. Do short but challenging sets, with one to five reps per set at the heaviest weights you can lift, improving hormone production and develop muscles!
- If you aren’t able to lift weights, then you can go for bodyweight exercise in the meantime, doing squats, core exercises, and other challenging moves that really challenge your body to the limits.
Wrapping It Up
If you’re planning to go running, it’s also best that you begin strength training and focus on your weights, too! Through incorporating just a bit of it to your running schedule, you can become stronger while improving your runs. Plus, it has you build muscle and keep the strength you may have lost from cardio and calorie burns.
I hope this article on the benefits of strength training for runners helped you out! So don’t wait any longer and begin incorporating strength training to your running sessions now.
If you have any questions or want to share your experiences with strength training and running, then comment below. Your thoughts are much appreciated!