Running is an excellent way to improve your cardiovascular health, increase stamina, and torch calories. But are you focussing solely on logging the miles? Incorporating strength training into your exercise routine is key to helping you take your running performance to the next level.
Strength training involves exercises that aim to increase muscle strength, power, and endurance. It is often associated with bodybuilding or weightlifting, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you can’t benefit from it too. Runners who strength train can improve their running efficiency, reduce the risk of injury, and enhance overall performance.
In this blog, learn about the importance of strength training for runners and try our example exercises that can help build strength and endurance in key running muscles.
Run more efficiently
Strength training can help runners improve their running economy, which refers to the amount of energy required to maintain a given running pace. By increasing overall body strength, runners can maintain proper form for longer periods of time, allowing them to use less energy while running.
Additionally, strength training has been scientifically proven to help improve neuromuscular coordination. This helps your muscles work together more effectively and leads to more efficient movements.
Reduce the risk of running injuries
Running can be hard on your body, especially if you're running long distances or on hard surfaces like pavements. Strength training can help to reduce the risk of injury by strengthening the muscles that support your joints, such as your hips, knees, and ankles. Stronger muscles can also absorb shock better, reducing the impact on your joints and bones.
Strong glutes, the largest muscles in the buttocks, are particularly important for preventing injuries in runners. When the glutes are weak, other muscles in the lower body may overcompensate. This results in poor running form and increases the risk of injury and knee pain.
Better running form
Strength training can improve your posture to help you keep a good running form, which is essential for preventing common running injuries and improving your overall running efficiency. Exercises that strengthen your core, glutes, and back muscles are the best for ensuring you have proper alignment during your runs.
Enhance your overall performance
Stronger muscles can help you can run faster and improve your endurance. For example, strength training for the legs can improve the ability to generate power during each stride, giving you a bolt-like running pace.
Research suggests strength training can also increase your lactate threshold, which is the point at which your body starts to accumulate lactate and fatigue (and the pain!) sets in. By increasing your lactate threshold, you can run at a faster pace for a longer period of time.
What’s more, as well as these physical benefits, strength training can also improve mental toughness and confidence, helping you keep running even when you start to feel the burn.
Increase bone density
Running is a weight-bearing exercise that can help improve bone density, which is important for maintaining strong and healthy bones as we age. Strength training also has a positive impact on bone density because it creates stress on our bones, stimulating the bone-building process. Combining running with strength training is therefore a great way to support good bone health and reduces the risk of running-related bone injuries. This is especially important for older runners, who may be at a higher risk of bone injuries due to bone conditions such as osteoporosis.
Examples of Strength Training Exercises for Runners
A simple strength training routine can be completed in as little as 20-30 minutes, a few times a week.
AMP’s 4lb adjustable ankle weights are a great way to add resistance to your leg workouts, helping to strengthen and tone key running muscles like the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. You can also maximise the effects of your workouts by adding AMPs fitness 6lb fitness bars. When using these, focus on slow, controlled movements.
Ready to start strength training but not sure what to do?
To point you in the right direction, here are some examples of strength exercises using ankle weights and strength bars:
Ankle Weight Squats:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with the ankle weights around your ankles.
Lower yourself into a squat, keeping your back straight and your weight over your heels.
Hold the squat for a second, then return to the starting position. These are great for working out your glutes, quads and hamstrings.
Ankle Weight Side Leg Raises:
Place the ankle weights around your ankles and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Raise one leg straight out to the side, keeping your leg straight and your toes pointed. Lower your leg back down to the ground and repeat for several reps on each side. This exercise targets your outer thighs.
Ankle Weight Kickbacks:
Place the ankle weights around your ankles and get on your hands and knees. Lift one leg straight back behind you, keeping your leg straight and your toes pointed. Lower your leg back down to the ground and repeat for several reps on each side. You’ll feel this one in your glutes.
Strength Bar Lunges:
Hold a strength bar in each hand and take a big step forward with one leg. Lower your body down into a lunge, keeping your back straight and your front knee behind your toes. Push back up to a standing position and repeat for several reps on each side. This exercise targets your glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
Strength Bar Deadlifts:
Hold the strength bar with both hands in front of your body, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower the bar down towards the ground, keeping your back straight and your knees slightly bent. Lift the bar back up to a standing position and repeat for several reps. This is a great exercise for your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.
Whether you're a seasoned runner or just starting, strength training can be a game-changer for your running performance.
Incorporating strength exercises into your workouts can help you run more efficiently, reduce the risk of injury, improve your running form and help maintain healthy bones. And, by strengthening key running muscles, you’ll see a huge difference in your overall running performance. Think more power, more speed, and next-level endurance.
Strength building exercises like squats, side leg raises, kickbacks, lunges, and deadlifts can be a great starting point. Don’t forget to dial up the intensity by adding either some ankle weights or using strength bars. Or if you’re feeling brave, use both.
Good luck! Let us know how you get on.