Strength to strength – weights help running

Over the last four months or so, I’ve been working a new exercise schedule. Travel permitting, I’ve been training on a three day cycle.

Day 1: run
Day 2: lift
Day 3: rest

squat for strengthThere have been times I’ve missed days or moved things – long haul flights can mess things up – but I’ve managed to stick to this reasonably well.

What’s been interesting is that as I’ve gotten stronger, my running has improved and my injuries have faded away.

There’s plenty of research that supports the proposition that glute strength is important for runners. Weak glutes make all the other muscles in your legs compensate. This leads to fatigue and, if you’re not careful, injury. Remember, the glutes are the largest, most powerful muscles you have, it makes sense to recruit them so that smaller muscles like hamstrings and calves don’t get as hammered.

My focus is on two main exercise movements for my glutes: squats and deadlifts. It’s important to learn how to do these exercises with the right form before loading up the iron. The great thing about these is that the equipment you need is minimal.

For squats, you can start with body weight. If that’s too easy, try a single legged variation.

Deadlifts only require a barbell and some weight. But get the technique right so that you don’t injure yourself.

My normal weight session is currently a full body workout that adds bench press, bent-over rows, shoulder press and some ab work to the lower body exercises. The focus is on challenging weights, not maximum one-rep weights. I aim for 6-10 reps most sets. When I can do eight reps easily I usually increase the weight by 5kg.

The next step for me is to split my weights into upper and lower body days so that I can give more focus to developing strength.

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