May 05, 2020

There is often a lot of misconception about the role of resistance training in middle- to long-distance runners. Previously, there has been opinions that this type of training isn’t functional for runners, or that it could potentially increase strength of the bigger/larger muscle groups and in turn will “weaken” the smaller stabilising muscles required for distance running. However, there is very limited evidence to support these theories.

 

So what effect can resistance training have on your running? It has been shown to improve running economy, meaning your body is more efficient at producing energy with every step. In turn this translates into improved performance and faster times. For the ‘weekend warrior’ who is not so concerned with their times but more for the joy of the run, there are also benefits. Strength training has a significant role in injury rehabilitation. And whilst the evidence is unclear what role strength training has on injury prevention, anecdotally it makes sense that the stronger you are in particular muscles groups, the less likely you are to overload your body and joints. 

 

So how does resistance training work fit in with a runner’s normal training program? Just as with any new form of exercise, there should be a gradual increase in load and volume. If you have any recent or current injuries, it is best done under the guidance and supervision of a skilled trainer therapist who has experience working with running injuries. Resistance training may come in the form of free weights, resistance bands, weights machines or work on reformers or other Pilates equipment. But there are some basic principles that need to be followed:

  • 2 -3 sessions of resistance training a week is thought best to improve running performance
  • Provide adequate rest between running and resistance training sessions (eg. At least 8 hours between running and a resistance session, or 24 hours between resistance work and running)
  • Ensure correct reps / sets – the ideal dose for “strength” gains is 8-12 reps, 3 sets, rest 2-3 mins in between sets, with the goal to fatigue your targeted muscle groups
  • Muscles group to target for running - quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, calf, adductors, and your core are all important muscle groups to work, but every individual has different needs
  • Programs should be individualised, and including a variety of types of exercises can help to reduce boredom and make your program more enjoyable (which makes you more likely to actually do it!) Group training programs are also a really good way to improve motivation and commitment to a program

So, if you are looking to improve you running performance and results, or are recovering from an injury, reach out to expert physios at OHL for some advice. They can assess your individual needs and help you get started on a resistance training program, or ask about joining one of our group physiotherapy classes today! Happy running!

 

 





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