Fact: Runner’s love strength training.
No? Well, we better learn to love it! Recent research on the benefits of strength training in running has shown the profound effects it has on injury prevention and performance.
- Over-use injuries reduce by up to 50% in runners who regularly strength train.
- Strength training improves running performance by 3-5%.
- Strength training does not cause weight gain when incorporated in an endurance running program.
Injury Prevention and Strength Training
For both recreational and elite runners, the biggest barrier to long and successful careers is injuries.
We hear runners talking about hip, knee, achilles and foot pain. Some think this is part and parcel of running… but this doesn’t have to be the case! Resistance training has been found to reduce sport related injuries by 66% and reduce overuse injuries by over 50% (Lauersen et. al, 2018). This is especially relevant to runners given that overuse injuries such as patello-femoral pain and achilles tendinopathy are some of the most common injuries we see in the sport.
Strength Training and Running Performance
Resistance training 2-3 times per week for at least 8-12 weeks will significantly improve your running economy and your overall performance! So what’s stopping you?
A study by Balsalobre-Fernández et al. (2016) found that running programs including strength and plyometric training improve running economy and performance by 3-5%. The studies they reviewed included strength based workouts with 2-4 heavy resistance exercises (e.g weighted single leg press, calf raise, squat etc.) as well as plyometric training and short sprint sessions.
How to perform strength exercises for maximum benefits
|Resistance||60-90% of 1 repetition Max (1RM)|
How does strength and conditioning improve running economy?
This is a complex question which we will go into detail about another time. To put it simply, strength and power training increase your muscles ability to produce an amount of force per second. This can reduce the contact time your foot has with the ground. The less time your foot touches the ground means the more time you are moving forward and the more efficient you are at doing so.
How often should I strength train?
Studies also suggest that you first need to develop a good strength base with 8-12 weeks of training 2-3 times per week. After this, most runners can drop the number of strength sessions down to 1 good sessions per week to maintain strength.
Does strength training increase body weight in runners?
The short answer is no. Many runners are hesitant to start strength training as they believe this will increase there body mass, which isn’t ideal for most endurance runners. Don’t worry, studies show that completing concurrent endurance and strength training does not result in a significant gain in body mass.
Lauersen, J. B., Bertelsen, D. M., & Andersen, L. B. (2014). The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Sports Med, 48(11), 871-877.
Lauersen, J. B., Andersen, T. E., & Andersen, L. B. (2018). Strength training as superior, dose-dependent and safe prevention of acute and overuse sports injuries: a systematic review, qualitative analysis and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med, 52(24), 1557-1563.
Balsalobre-Fernández, C., Santos-Concejero, J., & Grivas, G. V. (2016). Effects of strength training on running economy in highly trained runners: a systematic review with meta-analysis of controlled trials. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 30(8), 2361-2368.