Runners can also benefit from weight training.
Guest post provided by Holly. See below for more information about this author.
If you’re a runner, chances are you get off on the natural high of pounding the pavement or the trails and running harder or faster than you thought you could.
You may enjoy running so much that it can be difficult to wrap your brain around the idea of taking a break from the sport and practicing other forms of exercise.
That said, strength training can make you a better runner by increasing your speed and warding off sports injuries.
Weight Lifting for Runners
Weights don’t have to bulk you up or slow you down — just the opposite, in fact.
Weight sets directly target muscle and joint strength, which makes you less likely to strain muscles while running.
Additionally, by strengthening your core, arms and legs you can run faster and harder than if you have a weak upper body and runner’s legs.
Including strength training exercises that target your hips and core offer increased range of motion and balance, both of which can benefit a runner.
Not all strength training exercises work well for runners.
A chest press can make you feel strong but won’t help your performance on the track. Nor will bicep curls. But hamstring curls will give you a burst of speed when you need it and training your upper back will improve running posture.
While you can perform these exercises in a gym, you can also do them at home with a pair of dumbbells, an exercise mat and a chin-up bar.
Either is perfectly fine, so focus on what works best with your fitness routine. Incorporate them into your pre or post-run stretch to avoid forgetting.
Exercises to Try
Overhead Lunge: With one dumbbell in each hand, raise your arms up straight but do not lock them. Step forward with your right leg and bend the left leg so your knee parallels the ground. Return to the starting position and step forward with your left leg to complete one rep. Work three sets of 20 reps. If this is too challenging, hold the weights at shoulder level. This targets your glutes, hamstrings, quads, core and shoulders.
Lower Body Russian Twist: Lie on your back on an exercise or yoga mat, with your feet on the floor and your knees bent. Keep your feet in this position and lower your legs to the left so your knees touch the floor. Raise your legs back to center, then allow them to fall to the right. Keep your shoulders on the floor. Perform three sets of 20 reps of this core exercise to feel the burn.
Chin Up: A mixed-grip chin-up works your core, back and biceps. Grab the chin-up bar with your left hand so your fingers face out; grab the bar with your right hand so your fingers face you; hence the “mixed grip.” Pull yourself up by your arms as high as you can go while keeping your body straight. If you cannot raise your chin to the bar, still give this one your best shot. After you perform one chin-up, switch your grip so the hand that was facing you now faces out. As you continue to work this exercise you’ll build strength and may get to three sets of 20 reps over time.
Dedicate 15 minutes a day two to three days a week to add these strength training exercises into your routine.
Investing in a weight set will ensure you always have the ability to work on your strength.
Add in more exercises, such as those targeting your hamstrings, back and shoulders — to continue realizing strength benefits.
You’ll soon notice big payoffs in terms of your speed, endurance and overall fitness level.
About the Author:
Holly is an Indianapolis native with a passion for running and soccer. She’s been playing soccer since the ripe age of 4 and has recently become addicted to running half marathons. When she isn’t training for her next race, you can find her blogging on behalf of Sears and other brands she loves.