Conventional wisdom dictates that running and weightlifting do not mix. The idea is that casual lifting will wrap your body in heavy, bulky muscle, which slows a runner down.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) this isn’t the case. “Getting big” results from years of specialized lifting and dieting. Lifting for overall fitness, on the other hand, will add strength without the excess bulk. It allows you to run faster and healthier. So whether you’re looking to take your training further or just stave off injury, your answers may lie in the gym.
Lifting to Prevent Injury
Running will strengthen your hamstrings, but not your quadriceps; the resulting imbalance keeps the knee from moving the way it should. This is referred to as “runner’s knee” and it frustrates many beginning runners. You can prevent it by working your quads. Try leg extensions and lunges (lunges can be done with or without weight).
Shin splints are another common injury that can be minimized with proper lifting. Calf raises are best, with or without weight, and you can do them on stairs or any other raised platform.
Lifting for the Upper Body
If you want a stronger drive in your stride—and which runner couldn’t use that?—working on your chest and arms can actually help. Stronger arms swing faster, which allows the legs to do likewise.
A strong core is even more helpful, especially in the later stages of a run. After miles of running, proper form usually falls apart; the back hunches, the arms start swinging wildly, and the butt sticks out. This means that your core isn’t strong enough to match your mileage. Strengthening your shoulders, chest, back, and abdomen will allow you to keep from such ugly and unenjoyable running.
To strengthen your arms and core, try one-arm rows, standing bicep curls, triceps kickbacks, shrugs, dips, and lat pulldowns. There are many other exercises which work the same muscle groups; these were chosen because they’re simple. Many are also good for developing balance, which is especially useful to master runners.
How to Lift like a Runner
It’s important to keep your goals in mind when working out. A long distance runner shouldn’t lift like a bodybuilder; doing so is asking for injury. Instead, try to complete three sets of each exercise, with each set consisting of about 12 reps. Don’t wait too long between reps; a minute or less of rest is preferable.
It’s also very important to lift consistently. If you want to see increased strength and diminished injuries, you should work the same muscle groups two or three times a week, every week. Results will take at least a month to appear in your running, so the sooner you start, the better.Share on Facebook