Strength training for runners: fitness trainers answer the most Googled questions

Posted by for Strong Women

What’s the best way for runners to strength train? Stylist Strong trainers answer the most googled health and fitness questions.

Running can put your body through a lot, and conventional wisdom is now saying that you need to keep your joints strong if you want to perform at your peak and avoid injury. But knowing what balance to strike between running and strength training can be tricky. 

Every week we ask three trainers from Stylist Strong some of the most-asked questions surrounding weight training and fitness. This week we asked them why exactly runners need to strength train, and they gave us their expertise on which exercises are best to do and how often you should be doing them, to help you beat your personal best. 

HOW SHOULD RUNNERS STRENGTH TRAIN?

EMMA OBAYUVANA, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“There are different approaches to training for runners. I personally like to mix things up, so I think a combination of strength training, plyometrics and functional training benefit a runner all round. Obviously though it’s important to note whether the runner has any existing injuries and if those injuries are new or ongoing. If a runner has something chronic for example, they shouldn’t be doing any plyometrics. Really it depends on the runner.”

TESS GLYNNE-JONES, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“With running, the best strength exercises are those that are reflective of the running movement. So a lunge is basically a broken down run, and you can load up a lunge to make your ankles, hips and core really strong. I would also get in a lot of single-leg exercises like step-ups and Bulgarian split-squats for strength and balance, and deadlifts for strength.”

CAROLINE BRAGG, MASTER TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“Strength training for runners should include unilateral glute and leg work to help with transferring load from one leg to the other. Core and back work is also important, and working on mid-back rotation is key – especially if you have a desk-bound job.”

Strength training for runners: lunging with weights can help strengthen muscles

DOES IT MATTER HOW OFTEN A RUNNER STRENGTH TRAINS?

EMMA OBAYUVANA, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“I would say it depends on how much the runner runs, because you don’t want to over-train. If a person does a few runs a week already, I would then supplement it with strength training one to three times a week. But a lot of people might not be into strength training at all and just train by running, so it’s highly personal.”

TESS GLYNNE-JONES, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“For people who are everyday runners, getting at least two strength sessions in a week would really help optimise your running. I don’t think there’s a maximum though, as long as you’re not over-training or sacrificing your running strength.”

CAROLINE BRAGG, MASTER TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“It depends on what you’re training for on your runs but I would prioritise at least two strength sessions a week.” 

WHY DO RUNNERS NEED TO STRENGTH TRAIN?

EMMA OBAYUVANA, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“It improves the strength of runners’ muscles and joints, and this in turn will improve the runner’s pace, efficiency and speed, increase endurance and also decrease the risk of injury.”

TESS GLYNNE-JONES, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“Runners need to have strong joints because there’s a lot of impact that goes through ankles, knees and hips. By strength training you can strengthen up muscles that support these joints, so you’re less likely to get injured. Also, if you’re stronger you’re going to have longer strides and more stamina.”

CAROLINE BRAGG, MASTER TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“Running is a high impact activity so having the stability that strength work provides will help make running injury-free and improve your runs.”

Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts. 

Images: Unsplash

Share this article

Recommended by Aiden Wynn