Has running always been one of your favourite sports? If so, one of your goals for 2018 may be to improve your running performance and take it to the next level.

If you have been running consistently and still struggle to increase your pace or distance covered, weight training could be your answer.

The subject of weight training is still a grey area among the running community. You may have heard statements such as “weight training will slow you down” or “weight training is bad for runners.”

Post Talking Points

5 minite read

  • The Research
  • Benefits of Weight Training
  • Qicker Pace and Increased Power
  • Decreased Body Fat Percentage
  • Improves Your Core Strength
  • Reduces The Risk of Injuries
  • Weight Training Exercises for Runners

Let’s clear things up once and for all. Gaining muscles from weight training will not slow you down as the muscles we advocate is lean, fit, and functional muscle. Not the type of muscles that are bulky and massive like professional bodybuilders you see on stage.

To debunk this myth, let’s look at the findings of a couple of studies conducted on the effects of weight training.

The Research

A study put runners on a weight training program for three times per week. The results of study shown that leg strength of runners improved by 30% and quick bouts of running time improved by 13%. Another study was done to investigate the effects of maximal strength training on running economy and time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic speed. The study concluded runners who performed strength training enhanced time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic speed by 21.3%!

According to Luke Carlson, the strength coach for the runners of Team USA Minnesota, too many runners leave out strength training from their routine. Given that most of your running competitors are going to be training the same way (without weight training), incorporating weight training into your routine will instantly give you an edge. To improve your performance variables on race day, weight training should be a necessity.

In this article, we are going to share the top 4 benefits weight training has on your running performance. We will also provide recommended exercises for an effective weight training program that you can add to your training routine.

Let’s dive in!

Top 4 Benefits of Weight Training for Runners

We will now explore the benefits that weight training can offer to runners. It is important to get started with weight training as early as possible before competing to allow your body sufficient time to adapt to the rigours of weight training.

#1 - Quicker Pace and Increased Power

When you include weight training in with your routine, you will drastically improve your pace. Over the coming weeks, you will find your pace will gradually increase with weight training as it improves leg strength and your body’s efficiency to use energy and oxygen.

The stronger your muscles are, the more force they can produce. If you’ve been doing the right exercises with the right movements, your muscles will be built to sustain a quicker pace for a long period of time.

Also, with weight training, you are more likely to produce finely tuned Type II muscle fibres. Research shows that Type I and Type II muscle fibres sit on a continuum. Type I is associated with endurance running (less power, slower exhaustion) and Type II is associated with sprinting (more power, quicker exhaustion).

Combining both endurance and weight training produces the optimal muscle fibre that is most suited for running.

#2 - Decreases Body Fat Percentage (For a Lighter You)

Having a high body fat percentage will slow down your metabolism and in the long run, will lead to higher fat gain. On the other hand, if you are burning more energy when you are resting, you will be able to lower your body fat percentage a lot quicker.

It is a known fact that weight training burns fat. Weight training will boost your metabolism and support hormones to that stimulate fat burning. The right weight training program will help you lose fat and make you lighter as a result, and lightness is always a benefit for runners.

#3 - Improves Your Core Strength

You will need core strength in every physical activity, whether it is running, cycling or skiing. One of the best ways to improve core strength is weight training.

You will find it difficult to develop your core strength without traditional weight training. Aim to include exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and lunges into your workout. Well-developed core strength gives you balance and stability and this will help to improve your running performance.

Back pain is a common problem among runners. The main reason is weak abs and back muscles. Every time you run, your spine is subjected to small impacts. With a stronger core, your back can benefit from its stabilizing effect.

#4 – Reduces the Risk of Injuries

Injury and setback are not fun, this makes weight training exercises a must for runners. Being injury-free will help you train and compete more effectively for longer periods of time.

Since running is a constant repetitive movement, it’s common for runners to develop muscular imbalances, and this could derail your performance and in serious cases, lead to long-term injury. This is where weight training comes in as lifting weights can help you correct these imbalances and keep you healthy!

We know that late in a race or training session, fatigue can set in. For some people, this can derail their technique. Two features of poor technique under fatigue are excessive rotation of the trunk and losing coordination of your arms – both of which are crucial energy-wasters. Weight training can assist runners with their upper-body and core strength, which can in turn help provide some added control of running technique in a state of fatigue.

This is a simple yet crucial point to take note of as a lean and fit body will strengthen the muscles and help with common imbalances within the body, something that many runners suffer with on a daily basis due to constant endurance training.

Weight Training Exercises for Runners

As you now know, weight training can be a game changer for runners.

Here are some of our recommendations for weight training:

Reps range of 5-8 reps. This will also work your type II fibers which are important for speed and power. Strengthening type II muscle fibers will help you at the end of a long run. 2-3 training sessions per week. Alternate running days with weight training sessions. Give your muscles 36 - 48 hours to recover from the weight training sessions before working out the muscles again.

Moving onto the exercises. Incorporate these exercises into training routine:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Lunges
  • Hamstring curl
  • Calves raise
  • Bench press
  • Bent over rows
  • Shoulder press
  • Triceps extension
  • Bicep curls


Weight training is necessary if you’re a runner!

Hopefully, we have clear your doubts on the myths of weight training on runners’ performance. Having both actual endurance training for running and weight training in the gym are beneficial to enhance any runner’s performance.

Adding weight training to your routine should complement your running and not interfere with it.

So go ahead and start incorporating weight training today!

Over to You

Let us know in the comments below your thoughts on utilizing weight training to improve running performance? Do you think weight training is needed for runners?

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