What Does Strength Training Have to do with Running?
On the face of it, strength training for runners doesn’t make sense. Running fast means lessening the weight you carry around, which is why you won’t find any “chubby” world-class runners. In fact, runners tend to be lean and mean machines, especially for those who specialize in long distance running where champions look like they’ve been starving for some time while languishing in a prison camp.
Recently, however, a growing number of the running population has come to the realization that strength training for runners has its benefits. Perhaps one of the most important benefits is that being physically strong helps prevent injuries while running. And not only does it make you stronger, but it also makes you run more efficiently. In fact, it makes you run faster!
It’s important to note however that runners have their own priorities, and these are not the same as those of bodybuilders. Runners need a different strength training program than a football player. So instead of exercises that involve pushing away weight from the body, the exercises runners should perform need to concentrate on working the target muscles that will improve balance.
According to the foremost experts of our time, here are the strengthening exercises runners need to do:
- Planks. Do about 3 to 5 reps of these. This exercise will work the muscles in your shoulders, lower back, and core.
- Lower Body Russian Twist. Lie with your back on the floor. Your knees, however, should be bent 90 degrees from your body, and your lower legs should be perpendicular to the floor. It’s like you’re sitting down, except that you’re lying on your back. Now keep your legs in this position while you lower them to one side. Return your legs to their original position, and then work on your other side. That’s a single rep, and you need to do 10 to 12 of these. If you find this too easy, keep your whole leg straight, 90 degrees from your body. This exercise will work your core muscles.
- Scorpion. Go into the pushup position, but your feet should be resting on a low bench. Now try to raise your right knee to your left shoulder while you rotate your hips to the left to help you do so. Then reverse your hips to the right and try to reach behind your left shoulder with your right foot (which, by the way, is impossible so don’t be disappointed when your fail). Do as many as you can for 30 seconds, and then do it with your left leg. This exercise will work your core and shoulder muscles. If you find it too hard, just do step one. If it’s too easy, place your shins on a stability ball instead of your feet on a bench.
- Rotational Shoulder Press. Stand straight while you carry a dumbbell in each hand just at your shoulders, with your palms facing each other. Now stretch your arms as you rotate to the left, and then go back to the original position. Then do the same as you go to the right. The entire sequence is one rep, and you should do 6 to 8 of these. This workout will work your core, triceps, and shoulders. If this is too hard, do just half the reps, or do it without the rotation.
Strength Training for Runners Offers Many Advantages
One of the many advantages of strength training for runners is that these exercises don’t take an inordinate amount of time, and you only need to do them twice or thrice a week.
Strength training offers so many advantages that everyone, no matter what age, and no matter the gender, should do them regularly. If you haven’t done any strength training before, now is the perfect time to do so.
A good place to put together your strength training workout routine is to subscribe to the MyFitnessNut.com Newsletter and then follow along with your choice of the yoga, Kettlebell or dumbbell workout series on video. With the individual videos that you’ll find there, you can put together a strength training workout for running alone or focus on general muscle building and endurance. Besides hiring a fitness coach, video is the next best way to learn from.