Strength Training for Runners

Strength Training for Runners

Strength Training for Runners

Runners often neglect strength training. Even when they do add strength training to their running program, it’s typically not structured in a way that maximizes benefits.

Check-out our YouTube playlist for runners: strength training for runners and performance tips!

Historically, strength training for runners focused on high repetitions and low load to the point of fatigue. While that approach will build strength, it will do so very slowly. Our innovative care strategies at MoveMend Rehab and Performance will help you find quick injury relief and performance gains.

Strength and plyometric training

Along that same line of thinking, runners have avoided lifting heavy weights to avoid “bulking up”. However, recent research is starting to change that way of thinking when it comes to the way runners should approach strength training. Newer research shows the benefits of adding strength training with high load (heavy weights) and low repetitions for runners. It also suggest performing plyometric (jumping) exercises leads to improved running performance.

When the high-load strength training is combined with running, improvements have been shown in running economy (the energy consumption at a given speed). Improvements were also demonstrated in 5k and 10k time, and 1-repetition max strength compared to the low-load group, which has shown to produce very little in the way of changes. 

Single leg exercises for runners

While this information is great, it does not mean that every strength exercise for runners should be all high-load exercises. There is still value in doing training that focuses on single leg stability with motor control to reduce injury risk. A focus on motor control (the ability to successfully plan and execute a movement correctly) exercises still have a place in any good strengthening program.

Since running is a single leg exercise during which there is only ever one foot touching the ground, means that having good single leg motor control is vital. If there is a problem with motor control or mechanics, it is only going to be made worse as your muscles fatigue during a run, which will make an injury more likely. 

Here are 3 strength training exercises you can do at home to improve your running and decrease the risk of injury:

  • Single leg step-up – this is an exercise that works to improve motor control through the glutes and quads in single leg stance.
  • Single leg RDL – this is an exercise that focuses on single leg stability in addition to hamstring strength. 
  • Hip abduction with side plank – this is an exercise that works to improve gluteus medius activation and strength, which is vital for single leg control during running. 

Not sure how often you should be doing these exercises or how to add them effectively to your running program? Get started with a two-part running assessment to see what areas you specifically need to focus on to run more efficiently and reduce your risk of injury. Our trained physical therapists are dedicated to helping you achieve a pain-free life.

Bottom line, cross training for runners is invaluable.

Strength Training for Experienced Runners 

For more experienced runners, advanced strength training combined with running drills can be a good way to improve power and speed. This should incorporate:

  1. High load – low volume training
  2. Challenging plyometrics
  3. Single-leg stability
  4. Core exercises

When this is done as part of an off-season training program, it will set you up for improved success during your next running training plan. 

The addition of these exercises into a training plan is a good way to establish a well-rounded program that will allow you to progress running fitness, speed, power and efficiency all while lowering your injury risk.

Contact us today to schedule a consult with one of our running experts.

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