Why Strength Training & Running Should Be Part of Your Workout Routine
Updated: Aug 1
When the spring weather starts to push the snow and ice into the back of our minds, spending time outside becomes priority number one. For a lot of people, this means taking workouts outdoors. That's especially true for runners and cyclists. And while it can be tempting to trade your strength training time for outdoor fitness activities, there are a few good reasons you'll want to keep it in your workout routine.
Foregoing your strength training, even if it's just for a couple of months, puts you at risk for losing the progress and strength you've put so much effort into building up. In fact, when you stop strength training, you can start losing muscle tissue in just two weeks.
When you're thinking about how to maximize your workout plan in the months you also want to maximize your outdoor time, consider combining your strength training with outdoor runs a few days a week. Doing both strength training and running is an optimal way to get you even closer to your fitness goals!
Why Should You Combine Running & Weight Training?
For a long time there was a common misconception among fitness enthusiasts that you had to be either a runner or a lifter, but you couldn't do both. Runners thought that lifting would make them “too bulky,” and lifters believed running would make them “lose muscle mass.”
However, there have been several studies that have shown how incorporating both into your workout split is highly beneficial. The two complement each other, making you an overall stronger and well-rounded athlete.
According to Jason Fitzgerald, a trainer in Denver, Colorado, “Strength work accomplishes three big goals for runners. It prevents injuries by strengthening muscles and connective tissues; it helps you run faster by improving neuromuscular coordination and power; and it improves running economy by encouraging coordination and stride efficiency.”
How Does Strength Training Prevent Running Injuries?
Injury prevention for runners starts with strong leg and foot muscles. “Running is a high-impact exercise, and your feet are the first point of contact every time you hit the ground,” says competitive runner Corinne Fitzgerald. "Strengthening the muscles that stabilize the feet can help us prevent our arches from caving in toward the ground or our ankles to roll outward.”
The right weight training program will target specific muscles in your feet and legs with a variety of exercises. Not only will training those muscles help keep your injury-free, but it will also help you increase your speed as a runner. The range of motion and flexibility needed to do squats, lunges, box jumps, etc., will increase your muscle's flexibility while you're running.
Since running only happens on one plane, front to back, incorporating this variety of exercise will challenge your mobility in different ways. It’ll also help you to correct any muscle imbalances or weaknesses by doing unilateral lifts. Establishing a workout split that involves both running and lifting will help to obtain optimal strength and endurance for both activities.
How To Create an Effective Workout Plan
Creating a workout plan that effectively combines strength training and running takes some finesse. The key to making it work is understanding how much rest and recovery your body needs after each activity. Since it takes more time to recover after a heavy lift workout than it does for a run, you'll want to factor that into your schedule.
For example, an optimum schedule would look like this:
Heavy Leg Workout - This could include plyometric lunges, calf raises, and farmer's carries.
Rest Day - Allow your legs to recover from your heavy leg workout
Upper Body Workout - Your arms play a huge part in your running. Pushups, inverted rows, and reverse flys will help you build the upper body muscles that are so important to running.
Core Workout - Just 15 minutes a week of supermans, glute bridges, and planks can make a huge difference building up the muscles (back and abdominal) that help stabilize your spine when running.
If this all seems a little overwhelming or tough to have to plan our yourself, have no fear! Working with a certified personal trainer is a great way to maximize your workout plan with both strength training and running. A trainer will help you create a schedule that incorporates the best types of exercises so you'll get the most out of your workout while also guiding you in the proper rest and recovery plan after your workouts.
Personal Training & Strength Training Near You at Inspire Fitness Studio in Arlington
Need help putting together a customized workout plan that helps you reach your fitness goals while maximizing your time outdoors? The certified personal trainers at Inspire Fitness Studio in Arlington, Ma are ready to work with you either in person at our studio or in a virtual setting. Start with a free consultation and learn how what we can do for you.
Joe Rindone, NCPT is a certified personal trainer and the Founder of Inspire Fitness Studio in Arlington, MA. Joe's passion for fitness has motivated him to become one Greater Boston's best personal trainers. An athlete throughout high school and college, Joe has always enjoyed being active. Currently he enjoys road races, working with his boxing coach, kettlebell training and getting out for a round of golf in his spare time.