A common misconception is that weight training will make you bulky or that in order to lose weight you should only do cardio. However, neither of these ring true and there are so many ways in which strength training can benefit you when running.
Strength training helps to prevent injury by, you’ve guessed it, strengthening the muscles. When you run the force of roughly three times your body weight is placed through each leg. By building muscle you are better able to absorb the force of each step which will reduce the strain of your joints. It’s particularly important to incorporate strength training if you plan to increase the distance or pace of your runs in order to prepare your body for the heightened impact.
Incorporating weights into an exercise routine has been shown to increase speed and VO2 max when running, as your muscles won’t need to expend as much energy to reach your usual pace. Therefore, you become a more efficient runner.
Strength training is key for endurance. Endurance strength training, the clue being in the name, focuses on improving muscular endurance through lifting less weight but performing more repetitions. Whereas functional training exercises improve the skills you’ll need when running, such as balance and coordination. An example of this would be lunges or single leg squats as these exercises rely on the large muscles in your body cooperating in the same way that they do during a run. Think of functional training as training movement rather than muscle.
Strength training doesn’t have to be all about lifting heavy weights. You can practice body weight exercises like plank, which are great to combine with compound movements. Running is a full body workout but it’s important to take time to focus on individual parts of the body by strength training muscles in isolation. For example, building core strength can improve your posture. If you round your shoulders when you run and close your chest inwards it means you’re probably not getting as much oxygen, which can be rectified by improving your posture.
Muscle Burns Calories
Muscle tissue is metabolically more active and burns more calories than fat. As you increase your lean muscle mass you increase the body’s ability to use oxygen, and the greater your resting energy expenditure becomes. This means you burn more calories whilst resting, so you can eat more to fuel your run! If you are running to achieve a weight loss goal, then adding in strength training can be particularly beneficial.
If this does inspire you to incorporate some weight training into your workout routine, remember to do so gradually to allow your body time to adjust. For more on running have a read of our five top tips to start running.