What’s the best way for runners to strength train? Fitness trainers answer the most googled health and fitness questions.
“Don’t run to get fit, get fit to run” is one of the most important sayings out there. Because while running can be an amazing form of exercise, it puts your muscles, joints and bones through a really tough time. In order to run without injury and keep getting faster, you need your whole body to be strong enough to withstand the workout.
That means adding in some strengthening moves outside of the run in order to prep specific body parts for your run. With that in mind, we turned to three fitness trainers, Emma Obayuvana, Tess Glynne-Jones and Caroline Bragg, to explain how runners should be strength training in order to beat their personal best.
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HOW SHOULD RUNNERS STRENGTH TRAIN?
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
DOES IT MATTER HOW OFTEN A RUNNER STRENGTH TRAINS?
“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.”
“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.”
“It depends on what you’re training for on your runs but I would prioritise at least two strength sessions a week.”
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WHY DO RUNNERS NEED TO STRENGTH TRAIN?
“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.”
“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.”
“Running is a high impact activity so having the stability that strength work provides will help make running injury-free and improve your runs.”
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