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Running and Free Weights

17 June, 2014 0 comments

Running and weight training


Running and Free Weights

You may think that there are people who run the roads every day and those who hit the free weights area and never the twain shall meet. Well now it’s time to dust off your gym card as a properly designed free weights session for runners helps you to burn body fat, look and feel great and helps you to reach your running goals. Strength training makes you an overall stronger runner protecting you from being on the injury list and on a training program. More importantly, a good routine should help to maintain lean muscle mass and keep you running into old age. Runners are not typically gyms rats, unless of course you are addicted to your local gym’s treadmill, but there are very important benefits to using free weights. First, there are all in one strength training moves that can hit all of your body and be completed in well under 20 minutes. But also, strength training for runners can be performed any time of the year including off season and during a running training program.

Time is your most precious commodity and Lord knows your weekly runs and weekend long runs already take up enough of that so to make the most of your time, follow a routine that works multiple body parts at the same time. When designing your fitness plan, it's important to keep in mind your time availability. Two whole-body, free weight-training workouts and three runs a week are acceptable. You may lift weights and run on the same day, but you should complete the weight workout prior to running. You may also alternate workout days, such as weight training on Monday and Wednesday and running on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

But remember old-school weight-lifting routines won't get you very far. But a runner-specific strength-training plan will make you faster, stronger, and less injury-prone. There may be trouble ahead if runners adopt a strength-training program, they tend to do the standard old-school routine that is, bench presses, biceps curls, and leg extensions. While these moves might make you look good, they're virtually useless for making you a better runner. Think about it: How does pushing a weight away from your chest help you run a faster 10-K? It doesn't. In fact, lifting weights the way everyone else does may even increase your injury risk, because typical workouts often lead to strength imbalances between muscle groups and around joints.

However, what is important to a runner is a runner’s strength, and that a free weights routine will need to serve and strengthen your supporting running muscles and compliment your running program rather than mimic it. In other words, running in itself works various leg muscles during your running workouts. Although a free weights legs session is a workout that provides the resistance demand of your own body weight with every step on many of your running muscles. This is why runners need a strength-training workout that targets key muscle groups and keeps them balanced. A free weights session at the gym can be based on principles that run parallel and compliment running. The result decreased injury risk and increased performance over small periods of time.

Jim Fischer, head coach of men’s University cross country and track says that running faster is easier if your whole body is working with you, a runner with strong legs but weak arm muscles and weak core muscles will always be slower than a runner with total-body fitness. This is an important bit of advice as maybe as a runner weight training may not be your top priority. If it was your top priority then you may well be reading a different website, however if it’s not part of your training programme at all, then you could well be missing out! Using free weights as part of your training is a smart supplement to a runner's training regime because it strengthens muscles and joints, which can improve race times and decrease injury risk. You don’t need me to tell you that regular exercise is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. However, combining the resistance of free weights training with cardio exercise, you can increase strength and improve cardiovascular fitness. Weight lifting is an effective form of resistance training that's easy to do, and running is one of the most effective cardio exercises.

Here’s what you need to do. People tend to gravitate toward workouts that emphasize their natural abilities. However since runners are masters of endurance it makes sense that in the gym runners adopt the classic formula for building muscular endurance, light weights, high repetitions. Men’s Health UK suggests that lifting heavier weights for fewer reps is necessary for increasing strength. It is these stronger muscles that enhance the stability of your joints reducing the wear and tear on ligaments and making you a better sprinter and hill climber. A program that incorporates both lower repetition and higher repetition sets will have maximum effect. In saying this, don’t be afraid of bulking up, you won’t! Because by adding a significant amount of muscle requires a steady surplus of calories, which few runners have, and workouts that focus on muscle size, not performance.

As a runner with goals, it's critical to your success to follow a structured program to make sure that you have a good balance of hard and easy runs to create the right training effect. An important part of following your program includes keeping a diary of how fast, how hard or how far you've gone for each run. This can be easily replicated for the use of free weights, how many reps, what size weight; you might even record how you felt, are there any injuries or tight muscles and so forth. These details can be kept in a simple running log or right on the training calendar that you are following throughout your program to maximise your training, on and off season!!

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