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What runners need to know about Cross-training and lifting weights.

You're a runner. Should you also strength train? Or will it decrease your running economy?


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Absolutely you should strength train!


A strength training program provides many benefits to runners, including

A. Reducing risk of injury

B. Improving speed, endurance, and overall running economy.


Not only does strengthening important muscle groups increase the amount of stress your body can withstand prior to breaking down, but it also improves the quality of your muscle contractions, thereby increasing efficiency.

Running further faster is all about maximizing running economy (or efficiency) by minimizing unnecessary energy expenditure.

This is why increased coordination of muscle contraction is just as important as pure muscular strength.


Consistency is Key


Consistency with strength training sessions is especially important if you’re working toward a training goal by building weekly mileage and intensity. Your body functions like a scale. If you continually increase the workload to your body in the form of run intensity and/or distance without increasing strength and efficiency, your perfectly balanced running scale will become unbalanced and injury or a performance plateau may result. Instead, you want to increase your body’s capacity to meet the demands you are placing on it while running.

Strong muscles = healthy & efficient runner.


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What muscles should I be strengthening?

While it’s important to be a globally strong person, there are certain muscle groups that are helpful to focus on when specifically talking about running performance and injury prevention. Most notably, strengthening stabilizing muscle groups in the hips and calves will improve support to your joints so you can powerfully bound from one foot to the next as you do in each running stride.

Think about how many individual strides you take each time you run. That’s a lot of repeated demand for stability from your muscles!


How should a workout specifically for running differ from typical strength training?

You can certainly become strong as a runner while completing a traditional strength training program, however, if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck in terms of training specificity, it’s important to make a few simple changes to your routine. The most impactful change you can make is completing as many exercises as possible on one foot.

That’s right!


Running is a single-leg sport, so in order to most efficiently transfer training benefits from your strengthening to running performance, it’s important to mimic running when strengthening as well. For example, consider completing a single-leg squat instead of a typical squat or a single-leg deadlift instead of a traditional RDL. The possibilities are endless!


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Finally, don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed by adding consistent strength training to your busy running schedule. Even 2-3 times per week will help you run further faster and reduce injury risk along the way.

If you're looking for a cross-training or resistance training program to help avoid muscle imbalances and improve running form, we can absolutely help. You can schedule a call at our home page or email andrea@bereadypt.com for more info on how we can help you both locally in Nashville, and around the world.


Dr. Andrea Smiley

PT, DPT



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