When I put together my strength and conditioning program for athletes, there really is a method to my madness. I try to look at all different programs and ideas out there, from “Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe, to NSCA “Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning,” and I love reading what Charles Poliquin has to say on his blog.
Yes, these books are about strength and conditioning for people who specify in weight lifting, but shouldn’t I go to a source that is knowledgeable about weight training? And then I figure out how to work it with endurance athletes and THEIR strength program. After a ton of reading and doing, I present to you:
Top 5 Strength Training Tips for Runners (or Endurance Athletes):
- You will NOT get BULKY/BIG like a Weightlifter. ”Coach Jen, I don’t want to get bulky like a weightlifter.” Let’s talk about Exercise Physiology and the understanding of principle of overload and specificity.
- Principle of Overload:
- Overloading a system will cause it to respond and adapt.
- Example: The more you run, the more your body will get used to running. The more you lift, the more your body will get used to lifting more weight.
- Principle of Specificity:
- Muscles will adapt specifically to what exercise you are doing.
- Example: If you train your leg muscles, they will hypertrophy, and your shoulder muscles won’t.
- Takeaway: As endurance athletes, we will be running, swimming, and cycling WAY more than lifting. All I ask is that you lift; 2x a week, for my program. You will NOT get bulky.
- Lifting heavy weights will be very different for YOU versus a weightlifter. ”Coach Jen, I can’t lift heavy weights like the weightlifters.” Look at #1 again.
- As an endurance athlete, it will be very hard to do a TRUE max back squat with all that swimming, cycling, and running that you are doing.
- YOUR back squat (deadlift/push press/clean and jerk) max will not be the same as other runners. It will be specific for you.
- Takeaway: As endurance athletes, don’t worry about how much you should lift and compare it to everyone else. What I would like to see is you getting under a bar to utilize, trigger, and fire those muscles that you normally wouldn’t fire during your runs.
- Doing Planks will NOT get you a six-pack. ”Coach Jen, we need to do more core.”
- Charles Poliquin talks about this: Strength training with traditional lifts like squats, deadlifts, and chin-ups will increase your core strength due to “tightening” the core during these lifts and body weight exercises.
- Research has shown that plank exercises are performed in a static position, which is not used during a run or daily life.
- Takeaway: Do traditional lifts in the gym. Check out my “Top 5 Strength Exercises for Triathletes.”
- If you are an athlete, you may get injured. “Coach Jen, I don’t want to get injured.” I’ve heard this one WAY too often!
- As a runner, you may get injured as well. For example: Plantar Fasciitis, IT Band Syndrome, Runner’s Knee, etc.
- If you do too much of something, you may get injured. Too much Zumba, knee injury. Too much weight lifting, shoulder injury; you get my point.
- Takeaway: You are an athlete. Strength training will prevent future injuries, and help the imbalances that you may have if you are running too much.
- You will get FASTER with strength training. ”Coach Jen, I don’t want to get faster,” said NO ONE!
- Charles Poliquin states that the #1 reason why runners need to strength train is to GET FASTER.
- Strength training will increase your leg strength, which will apply more force heading up those hills and improve your body’s effectiveness in using energy and oxygen.
- Takeaway: Strength training will improve your pace, help you with your body’s ability to use oxygen, and you’ll be able to apply more force to the ground.
I realize that there are 1000 ways to train for a marathon/13.1 marathon, and running in general, but how I look at training is: Quality over Quantity. Your strength needs to be quality, just like your run training.
Figure out how to implement strength training in your schedule. It is critical for your life today AND for your future. Looking for a way to add strength training in your program? Contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org for a program, or a specific consult on how to organize and plan your strength program.