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Weight Lifting for Runners: An Easy Guide

weight lifting for runners

Did you know that 50% of runners experience an injury annually that prevents them from hitting the trails? Nearly 70 to 80% of these problems are caused by overuse injuries, primarily in the lower body. 

It may seem counterintuitive since it pulls you away from running days, but weight lifting for runners is arguably just as important. But what type of weight lifting do you need to improve your physique, form, and running time? 

Luckily, we have compiled a complete guide for you. In this article, we talk about why lifting is essential for runners and a few helpful tips and tricks to get started. Keep reading on for more information!

Why Is Weight Lifting for Runners Important?

Weight training for runners is important for several reasons, including injury prevention. Proper weight training can develop and strengthen muscle groups to help avoid overuse injuries or nagging pain when you hit the trail. Here are some other key benefits of adding weight lifting to your workouts:

  • Improved lean muscle mass
  • Builds strength to improve running times
  • Reduces abdominal fat
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Maintain healthy blood sugars
  • Improves mobility and flexibility

Studies show that weight lifting reduces injuries in athletes by nearly 33%, and it has shown beneficial results in lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels. Boosting lean muscle mass and burning fat boosts endurance, speed, and longevity on the running trails. 

Runners Weight Lifting Guide

Runners need a unique weight lifting guide that balances endurance and strength. Skipping cardio and going straight for weight lifting is not the route to take. In two to four weeks, you can lose VO2 max volumes and significantly hinder your endurance workouts. 

Instead, you need to balance strength training and running during the week. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a workout designed to increase strength and endurance. Try combining activities, such as sprints on the treadmill followed by walking lunges. 

If you don’t have much time, HIIT is likely the ideal workout for you. Here are several benefits of combining high resistance activities with cardio: 

  • Improved metabolism
  • Lose fat
  • Increase in muscle mass
  • Improved oxygen consumption
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Reduced blood sugar

An example of HIIT is using a stationary bike. For 30 seconds, you will increase the resistance and pedal as hard and fast as possible. Afterward, you will lower the resistance and speed and pedal at a more leisurely pace for two to four minutes.

Repeat the exercise for 15 to 30 minutes. 

Skip Running Every Day

You may think that the best way to improve your running is going at it every day. This is false! Running six to seven days a week can take its toll on your joints and muscles, leading to chronic injuries. 

Running experts suggest that you keep your running to four days per week at most. Adding two to three days of strength training can target fast-twitch muscle fibers and improve your running distance or speed. It will also take the burden off repetitive movements that compress joints and allow you to strengthen the muscles surrounding them. 

Adding Weight Training Days

HIIT is an excellent all-around workout. Sometimes, you need specific strengthening for improved lean muscle mass gains. Here are some major muscle groups you should target during your next strength training workouts:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Calves
  • Core

Your glute muscles stabilize your pelvis, improve posture, and reduce injury risk. Simply incorporating exercises that strengthen glutes will help you with balance and running. Here are some great functional movements that target glutes and other leg muscle groups:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Box jumps
  • Bridges
  • Leg press

There are many exercises that you can adapt based on your experience with weight training. For example, if you don’t feel comfortable squatting a barbell, start with a leg press machine. While machines don’t require as much balance and stability, they are great starting points to help you develop correct posture and form. 

Do Runners Need To Train Arms?

Core strengthening is important for everyone since it helps with posture, stability, and reduces injuries. But do you need arm workouts if you are primarily a runner? In one word: yes.

An ideal gym routine for runners will include cardio and strength training for legs and arms. When you run, you naturally pump your arms. While this isn’t the bulk of your running, it still plays a prominent role in propulsion. 

Strengthening your arms will also help with posture and running form. Strengthening your entire body will boost your metabolism and give you a well-proportioned physique. 

Do You Need a Personal Trainer?

One of the many questions runners may have when starting a weight lifting program is, “do I need a personal trainer?” Ultimately, it comes down to what you are comfortable with. If you have no experience with weight lifting and proper form, a personal trainer could help you get started and avoid injuring yourself. 

Additionally, personal trainers also work well with seasoned athletes. They work closely to develop your goals, hit milestones, and provide encouragement. Their expertise and knowledge make them an excellent resource for new or different exercise programs and workouts. 

Improve Your Running Today

Have you wanted to know whether weight lifting for runners is beneficial? Strength training is vital for every age group, athlete, or weekend warrior. Whether you run marathons or are just getting started, adding in a couple of days of strength training could make a significant difference in your running. 

Are you still unsure about how to get started? Most strength training exercises require gym equipment or the skillset of a personal trainer to help. At Fitness CF, we have multiple fitness options for you, from personal trainers to group classes. 

Check out our membership options for more information!


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