In the past, runners were discouraged from “gym training” and the reasoning was excess muscle mass would slow down a runner. However, a personalized weight-training program designed to improve functional strength and explosive power will provide you with significant gains in running speed and stamina.
Your leg and glute muscles are some of the largest muscles in the body. Strengthening these muscles helps stabilize your spine and maintain correct technique while running. This in turn decreases fatigue and increases your endurance. Strong leg muscles also help absorb the impact of running on the joints. Upper body strengthening is equally important. In addition to your legs, the pumping action of your arms helps propel you forward and a strong upper body plays a role in improving your running technique.
Explosive strength training exercises also known as plyometrics can be used to increase your speed. Jump squats, box jumps, and dumbbell step-ups are examples of plyometric exercises. Such exercises increase explosive leg strength and help improve running speed without increasing the size of the muscles. An improved strength to weight ratio is a big advantage in any type of running activity.
Your running workouts and strength training should complement each other. If you are running 5 or 6 days a week, strength training once or twice a week is sufficient. If you are running 3 days a week, strength training can be done 3 days a week as well. Pushing yourself too hard with both running and weight training is akin to burning the candle at both ends and your body may not get time to recover sufficiently between workouts.
The muscular physiques of sprinters such as Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay, & Maurice Green bear witness to the fact that strength training is an important part of their training and helps to improve their agility and speed. Strength training can be used to supplement your running workouts whether you are just trying to improve your cardiovascular fitness or training for a marathon.
Dr. Domb is a nationally recognized orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery of the hip, shoulder and knee. A noted pioneer in advanced new techniques in hip arthroscopy, he delivers innovative treatments for patients with hip injuries such as impingement and labral tears. Dr. Domb is also an expert in arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder and knee, adept in specialized techniques including arthroscopic rotator cuff repair and all-inside ACL reconstruction.