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3609 Views 10 Replies Latest reply: Nov 1, 2008 7:32 PM by TrailDaddy
TrailDaddy Amateur 15 posts since
May 3, 2006
Currently Being Moderated

Sep 1, 2008 12:42 PM

Will Weight Training for Leg Strength slow me down?


I'm startng a new training program with the hopes of building my speed and endurance. The program I'm following includes leg strength training in the way of isometrics. The question I'm needing help with is whether to incorporate weight training into my schedule. Will using weights help or hurt me? The program I'm following includes alot of intense speed work. Is isometrics and hill repeats enough strength training?



  • DaveVause Community Moderator 1,447 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007

    A glance at champion sprinters will surely tell you if weight training slows you down (they're usually highly muscled).  On the other hand, at marathon distances, excessive weight will slow you down. 


    I find weight training helps my marathon running.  By increasing upper body strength, my shoulders and arms do not tire while on 3 or 4 hour runs.  I'm not a fan of isometrics, preferring free weights. 


    Hill repeats are a great leg strengthening as well as aerobic workout.  Be careful not to overtrain.

  • DaveVause Community Moderator 1,447 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007

    I did some research in Tim Noakes and Earl Fee's books.  There's substantial evidence to justify weight training in runners in shorter events.  The evidence is not as compelling in distance runners, but still there.  Noakes, Fee, and Jack Daniels all remark that the whole body should be trained.

  • DaveVause Community Moderator 1,447 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007

    Agreed.  I doubt anyone starts or maintains a regimen designed to build bulk for any reasons other than appearance. 


    On the other hand, maximal oxygen uptake (gained by cardiovascular work) is closely associated with good health and longevity.  The only health component I'd say running lacks is that it doesn't stress bones above the hips.  Thus, to prevent bone density loss in the upper body, one has to do some sort of weight bearing exercises.  50% of women and 25% of men suffer osteoporosis in old age.


    Of course, though, honestly, as a 53 year old male runner, it still feels nice to be able to turn heads of women half my age when I run shirtless......(smiles)

  • DaveVause Community Moderator 1,447 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007



    I'm not a certified fitness professional, so I don't presume to "advise".  That said, to put myself through engineering school in the 80s, I was a fitness instructor.  I picked up certification as a strength instructor with the NSCA just as something to do with my then 18 year old daughter.  That was 12 years ago and I never kept the certification up.  10 years prior to engineering school, I was a senior in biology/biochemistry.  This gave me a bias towards peer reviewed studies over anecdotal advice.


    Back in the 80s, I thought the isotonic vs. isometric debate had been settled, largely in favor of isotonic exercises.  I did a Google Scholar search on "comparison isometric isotonic hypertrophy strength" and found most of the research on this topic was done before the scientific journals were archiving on-line.  Typical of these is .  It finds in favor of isotonic workouts; for a reason that is ringing distant bells now that I think of it.


    I've heard good things of the Furman program, though I've not read the book.  I really don't know a lot about the program.  I've relied heavily on Noakes because he's an MD, an active researcher in exercise physiology, and bases his advice on peer reviewed research, both his own and by others.  Likewise, with Jack Daniels, who is a famous coach as well as peer reviewed researcher.  Unlike Noakes, Daniels doesn't cite in his book like Noakes does.  Finally, there's Earl Fee who is actually a retired technical writer but who wrote a book on running that could easily stand up as an MS thesis on the topic.  I've gathered much from his book too.  I recommend all 3 books, if you're interested in reading up on exercise physiology as it applies to running.


    All this, because I like to run marathons and intend to run them faster over the next 10 years.  (we hope)


    So, based on what I've read - and not presuming to be an expert - I personally would choose the gym.  But, take it as a personal choice and certainly not the advice of anyone who remotely presumes to be an expert.


    Good luck!

  • MikeDaMarine08 We're Not Worthy 2,498 posts since
    Aug 14, 2008





    I am new to the running community and am loving it more and more after each run.  In the last year I have participated in 20 plus races, including 2 half marathons.  I usually weight train 5 days a week in the am.  The evening is reserved for running or other cardio.  Monday is usually my leg day.  I usually do squats, leg press, extensions, and curls.  3 Sets 12-14 reps.   Saturday is my long run day.  I hope to gradually get to the point where I can be more toward the top of my age group than the middle.   As with any workout I have tried to mix it up occasionally.  I generally feel better the days I do weights and run, than on the days I don't.  You guys gave me some great books to put on my Christmas list.  Thanks









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