Welcome to the latest edition of workout Wednesday, when each week I share a new running or strength training for runners workout. I often talk about how important it is for runners to strength train. Strength training for runners can be the difference between a new PR and a potential injury. Strength training can help you become a stronger and faster runner. Runners who log a lot of miles but do not strength train may set themselves up for potential muscle imbalances, which can lead to injury.
The good news is that you don't need to spend hours in the gym or even revamp your whole training program. You can add in 10-20 minute strength sessions 3-5 times a week for fantastic results. You want to make sure you have focused training sessions so you don't waste any time. The way a runner needs to train for strength is different than the way a bodybuilder or a powerlifter trains. The most important factor to consider is that your training is structured to meet your individual goals. Need help? I'd love to.
I recommend most runners structure their workouts in circuit style for the most time efficiency in the gym (or your living room). Circuit training means that you move from one exercise to the next with little to no rest between exercises. Choose 3-6 exercises to complete back to back and once you complete the exercises in the circuit, take a short rest and then repeat the circuit for the number of sets you wish to complete. This not only improves the efficiency of the workout by avoiding long rest periods between exercises, it also helps keep your heart-rate up for an added cardio bonus. You can get in and out of the gym in less time and back to your running. Make sure your strength training circuit includes the training outlined below and you'll be on the right track (pun intended). I have many strength training ideas in my blog archive under workouts.
When you run you repeatedly balance on one leg at a time for the duration of your run. It makes sense that runners need to train unilaterally (one side at a time) to improve individual leg/hip strength and balance. Examples of balance and unilateral exercises are single leg deadlifts, lunges, single leg squats, and split squats.
When I talk about core training, I am not talking about training for six pack abs (although, wouldn't that be nice, right?). Core training includes all the muscles in your torso below the chest and above the thighs, including your hips and back. Your core is what keeps your running form stable, especially once you start to get tired during those long runs. A strong core powers your stride and provides stability. Core exercises include planks, side planks, bridges, supermans and hip exercises.
Our goal is to be a well-balanced runner. We want to avoid muscle imbalances as much as possible and one way to do that is to train the muscles that don't get utilized as much during our runs. If we run and only run, the muscles we use to run get stronger and start to take on some of the work of the weaker muscles. This can cause all sorts of alignment and recruitment problems. The muscle stabilizes the joint, so weak muscles can leave you prone to joint injuries.
Weak hips and specifically the poorly neglected gluteus medius is a big cause of injury in runners. The gluteus medius is on the side of your...ummm...backside and keeps your pelvis steady when you run.
When we run, we are moving through one plane of motion, the sagittal plane, forward (and technically) backward. In order to develop well-rounded strength, it is essential that runners train in the frontal plane, or using lateral movements. Walking planks, hip adduction and abduction, side lunges and banded side squats are all essential frontal plane exercises to include in your strength training for runners programming.
Speaking of planes of motion, there's one more that we must be sure to cover and that is the transverse plane or rotational movements. Rotational moves train core stabilization between the upper and lower body. When you pump your arms the energy is transferred through your core to power your stride. Exercises like lift and chop and side plank with rotation are great additions to a runner's strength program.
Here are some examples of each of the components of a strength training for runners program that I recommend. Perform 8-12 reps of each exercise in a circuit fashion and you have all five covered.
Runners don't need to waste time doing bench presses and bicep curls because these exercises won't help improve your running like a plank, bridge or single leg deadlift will. Runners can skip the long rest periods between exercises and perform the exercises in a circuit. Incorporate some hill training in the mix and you will be an unstoppable runner. Wondering how to fit it all in? Here are some tips on how to fit strength training into your running routine.
Need help with all of this? If you live in Fort Worth contact me to see if I still have spots open in the private ShredShed. I accept one-on-one clients at a reasonable rate that includes strength, running, nutrition and lifestyle. If you live in Fort Worth it is an incredible value. If you don't live in Fort Worth, I am now accepting online strength for runners clients. I also have an online nutrition habits program that is beneficial to athletes and weight loss clients alike. Not sure? Contact me and we can chat about what is still available. You can follow me on Instagram and just stalk what I'm up to or follow this blog to receive all the running, strength training and nutrition tips FOR FREE.
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