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5 reasons why runners need to strength train

strength-training

It’s something all runners know they should do, but how many of us actually strength train regularly? High fives to those of you who do!

I always have good intentions at the start of a new training cycle. I pencil in strength training days and even hit the weight room regularly for the first few weeks. And then the inevitable happens: I start getting tired from the toll of training and look for ways to cut back. The first thing to go? Strength training.

The benefits of lifting
But runners, like me, who skip out on strength training aren’t doing themselves any favors. Athletes in all sports spend time in the weight room regularly for good reasons. Hitting the weights helps runners:

  1. Get faster. Lifting weights boosts your leg strength which translates directly to faster race times – whether you’re a 5K runner or marathoner. Strength training will also make you leaner which can help shave seconds – or minutes – off your average pace.
  2. Increase endurance. Studies show runners who strength train three times per week increase their endurance significantly. Your strength training base may help you when you reach those later miles, too. A strong core helps runners improve and maintain proper form, so you won’t fall apart as you approach the finish line.
  3. Speed up recovery time. Not only will you be able to run faster and further, but you won’t need as much time to recover after those tough workouts. Increased muscle mass makes your body more efficient at eliminating metabolic waste, which means you’ll recover more quickly.
  4. Cut body fat. Simply put, muscle burns more calories than fat. So adding muscle to your body will help you torch calories by speeding up your metabolism. If you add muscle to your frame through strength training, you’ll burn about an extra 40 calories per day at rest. This doesn’t seem like much, but it equals 4 fewer pounds per year!
  5. Avoid injuries. Many common running injuries stem from muscle imbalances brought on by running. Doing a full-body weight circuit regularly will increase muscle strength and joint stability. This is especially helpful in areas like the hips and knees, where runners are prone to injury.

How to add strength training to your routine
Experts say you should lift weights two to three times a week, for about 30 minutes each session, to gain the most benefits. But during periods of intense training, it’s OK to cut back to one or two strength training workouts per week – as long as you continue to do upper body, core, and lower body exercises.

If pumping iron isn’t your thing, no sweat. You don’t need to lift weights to strength train. Body weight exercises – like push-ups, planks, and hamstring curls with a stability ball – work just as well as using free weights or weight machines.

In an upcoming article we’ll share the best strength training moves for runners.

Written by Jen Matz.

Sources: 1 | 2 | 3

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