Does anyone have any advice on the best strength training for runners? I am training for a marathon and want to do some strenth training, including legs, but am nervous about overdoing it or injuring anything prior to the race.
I strength train almost everyday and unless you lift far too much weight or don't use proper form, you're probably more likely to get an injury from running than strength training. Strength training should actually help prevent injury and help to provide more stability to joints. Start out with small amount of weight or use your own body weight and work your way up. Always keep good form, if you are having difficulty doing that then you are using too much weight. For legs- squats, leg presses and lunges are good. Working on your chest, shoulders, abs, and back will help you maintain proper posture while running. Don't forget to stretch. You may be sore initially because you body is not use to strength training but you should not be in pain.
I agree with the last post. I am training for a marathon and I strength train 3-4 times a week. As long as it is done properly it should compliment your running.You will be able to tell the difference, you will become a stonger runner in many aspects. Go for it!
If you are looking to bulk up then lift heavier weights with less repetitions. If you are looking to tone your muscles without adding lots of extra bulk, use lighter weights in high repetition. I do the light weights with lots of repetition and notice a big difference in the way I look and feel. Just keep in mind that the more muscle you add, the more weight you will have to carry around while you're running. Have fun!
I have been running marathons since 1978 and lifting since 1979. I have generally been able to avoid adding bulky pounds because of the mileage I (average 35 a week, more in the months prior to the marathon). Some of my most sucessful marathons were run with a 3 day a week lifting routine. My last workout of the week was done immediately after my 20 mile Saturday run. I would first do freeweights for the upper body and then go through the Nautilus routine, which included the leg machines. During the free weight routine, I would stretch between sets. These stretches included hamstrings, calf muscles, back, quads, and groin. After several weeks of this routine, the marathon always seemed like a walk in the park.
There is research supporting the use of strength training to improve performance as well as prevent and recover from injury. Most of the research shows that it is difficult (not impossible) to "bulk up" with a weight training program while running (especially a marathon program).
The more specific the exercise is to running the greater improvement you will see in your running. For example instead of lying on your side and doing leg lifts you could stand on the edge of a step and slowly lower and raise your pelvis. This would more closely replicate the way your body works while running.
Trunk strengthening is especially important for runners. The pelvis is essentially the control center for your lower body and will greatly benefit from training.
We have recently been testing strength levels in runner to see what normal strength is and how it relates to injury. We tested the Mesa State Cross Country Team of Grand Junction, Colorado. Team members were evaluated at the beginning of the season to assess leg and trunk strength / endurance. Several of the harriers were amazed to see the imbalances they had developed from previous injuries or not performing appropriate core training. Based on the test results each member implemented the exercises presented in the DVD ?The Injured Runner ? A Balanced Solution? to restore muscular balance. Coach Gig Leadbetter reported ?We have not had an injury since beginning this program and our training program is the same ? none of those hip or IT band problems that plagued us last year.?
I am excited to see the promotion of strength training among runners and wish you the best.
The Injured Runner
Helping runners get back to what they love to do...run!
Injury Prevention :Injury Prevention
Build A Solid Foundation
Strength-training your legs helps you run strong and stay injury-free.
By Jim and Phil Wharton
Here is the REAL secret to marathon success: Devote some of your precious training time to lower-body strength training. All the pavement pounding isn't building the muscles in balance, says New York City musculoskeletal therapist Jim Wharton, and you're asking for trouble when you overtax weaker muscles. I strength trained once a week--and then a hamstring imbalance sidelined me for three full weeks. Only then did I do three days a week of lower-body work, which helped me get to the starting line. The Whartons prescribed these six exercises, which anyone can do with a basic set of ankle weights. Do two sets of 15 repetitions on each leg for each exercise. (For the Whartons' full program, go to runnersworld.com/wpm.)
Knee Extensors: Sit on a chair with a rolled-up towel under the knee of the exercising leg. Angle the toes in slightly and extend the leg straight out. Lock the knee and hold for a three-count; this exercises the medial head of the vastus medialus, the knee's shock absorber. Slowly lower the leg.
Hip Flexors: Lie on the floor, with the exercising leg straight out, and the nonexercising leg bent with your foot on the floor. Lift the exercising leg from the hip, ending at a 90-degree angle with the heel pointing toward the ceiling. Slowly lower. Repeat with foot angled to the outside, then to the inside.
Hamstring Curl: Lie facedown on a flat surface and, bending at the knee, bring the exercising foot up toward your buttocks; slowly lower the leg. Turn the foot toward the outside and repeat; then turn the foot toward the inside and repeat.
Hip Extensors: Lie facedown over a table or bed, pelvis at the edge, feet on the floor. Relax your nonexercising leg to a 90-degree angle at the knee; it should stabilize you but not support you. Keep the exercising leg straight and turn it in at the hip. Lift the leg up to the point where it is parallel with your back. Slowly lower.
Hip Abductors: Lie on your side on the floor, the exercising leg on top. Bend the nonexercising leg 90 degrees at the hip and knee. Rotate the foot of the exercising leg down (inward) to isolate the outside hip muscle. Keep the leg straight (it will feel like it's behind you) and raise it as high as possible. Slowly lower.
Hip Adductors: Lie on your side on the floor, the exercising leg on bottom. Place your upper (nonexercising) leg on a chair or table at a height of about 20 inches off the floor. (Your leg should be at about a 45-degree angle to the floor.) Slowly bring your exercising leg up to meet the other leg. Slowly lower.
I got this off of the runner's world website.
An often missed area of strength training for running is core training. The core pillar (lumbo hip pelvic complex) is our power machine in running. The lats connect into the pelvic area and stabilize it from the top along with all the other core (front and back) muscles (erector spinae, multifidus, internal/external obliques, thoracic columbar etc). Often people focus on strengthen the most common "big muscles", which tend to be "movers" and skip out on the little guys that are stabilizers. In addition to some of the great exercises listed above, I would recommend prone cobras, planks, bridges, lateral lunges, back exercise etc.
It's advisable to progress your workout from stabilization (unstable environment - ie stability ball rows) to strength (bench rows) and finally to power. Stabilization phase uses higher reps and lighter weight and slower tempo while strength training phase increases weight and increases tempo with lower reps. You can perform periodization and alternate between the two. For a killer workout, do a strength (ie push up) followed by a stabilization exercise (ie single leg chest press with bands). This is a great combo chest exercise.
If you can, hire a reputable trainer and have them coach you through a progressive workout. It's possible to get a workout for one week and then meet with the trainer every 2-3 weeks for additional workouts.
Try this plan, I use it for triathlons & marathons.
Side lateral raises
Side lateral raises
15 Reps hold for 4 seconds
Increase weight 5% per week upper body
Increase weight 10% per week lower body
Adaption phase weeks 1 - 3
High rep, low weight
Endurance phase weeks 4 - 10
(used during off season)
Power Phase weeks 11 - 14 (Exercises indicated by *)
The key is core exercises that are split into 2 groups
1. Lats & triceps
2. Legs, chest & biceps
Increase power by adding additional 20% - 30% to load over that of endurance phase by doing 10 reps, 8 reps, then 6 reps going to failure on final rep of each set.
Allow 3 - 4 mins recovery between power exercises.
Chisel phase weeks 16 - 16
Return to lighter weights (same as start of endurance phase).
Hold for 2 seconds, fast but NOT sloppy.
Use HR monitor - when below 60% of max HR start next set.
Add 5 hard mins of abs exercises to every session.
This program is to be completed only twice a week in conjunction with other training.
If you follow the plan with your usual run workouts, don't worry you won't gain weight, I have done this for sometime and I am still 175lbs with no weight gain.
Don't forget to eat & drink right.
I would suggest doing general light leg conditioning (leg Presses, Box Squat, Bench Step-ups) with an emphasis on hip abductors and hip flexor conditioning. Additionally, ankle/foot balancing movements on wobble boards, discs and most importantly core strengthening involving Exercise Balls, Medicine Balls and some planks. The goal is injury prevention not breakdown and repair. Your body has enough to recover from and at this point your objective is to stay injury free.
Some great insights above gang. The key to the "right answer" is in identifying your true goal of the marathon. Many people want to finish the marathon and use it as a (fantastic) way to get in shape at the same time. They're concerned about overall health first...finish time second. For this individual, an overall strength training program (not too dis-similar to the one mentioned above) is perfect.
But other people are focused on finish time and PR. For those folks, you want to remember that every extra pound (as long as you're eating well!) will cost you 2 seconds or more. Doesn't sound like a lot? Do the math. I'm 40 and gunning for a sub-2:35 at the R & R. I'm down 7 lbs from a year ago, and that 14 sec/mile gives me a 6-7 min advantage. That's big!
That doesn't mean you don't need "Strength Training," but it does mean you don't need weights. Core stabilization was mentioned several times above - GREAT advice (Pilates would be excellent example). The key is to balance what you do with your running, which is 100% forward motion. One simple idea I just wrote about in the USAT Magazine last month was to add an "S" pattern to a few minutes of your running a few times/wk (snaking back and forth during your warm-up/warm-down rather than just straight ahead). This develops some of the lateral hip muscles such as the gluteus medius that are so important to keeping runners healthy.
I'm getting lengthy, so if you have questions, feel free to contact me through www.FullSpectrumCoaching.Net
All the best!
Brad Cooper, MSPT, MTC, ATC
Pay the most attention to the above advice that focuses on functional training for running performance. Exercises using bodyweight, core stabilization, and myofascial release/flexibility for injury prevention will pay off. Great examples of these are the one leg deadlift and hovers or pillar bridges. Check out the book Core Performance by Marc Verstegen for excellent advice for any sport.
Christine Neff--Femme FITale, Boulder, CO
Consider trail running early in the season - it works to build the 'little' muscles as you weave your way through obstacles along the course! You'll also likely avoid injuries from "pounding the pavement" but be aware of the potential for ankle and knee injury if you have weakness in these areas. A good pair of trail running shoes is a plus!
You want strength training to be as specific to running as possible. The best resource for this may be M. Yessis's Explosive Running book.
Matt Rogers, MS, CSCS
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