Runner’s ask me all the time if strength training will make them faster. What a loaded question. Increasing muscular strength will increase muscular power, which is the product of force “strength” and speed. So, yes in a round-a-bout way it will. All athletes can benefit greatly from a well designed strength program tailored to their underlying weaknesses and taking into their demand in their sports and everyday life. Some primary benefits of strength training for runners are injury prevention, increased power, increased speed, increased stride length and improved running economy.
Athletic performance is limited by the amount of force and power that can be produced and sustained over a period of time. Force and power are influenced by neuromuscular coordination, muscle mechanics, and how efficient the athlete is at turning metabolic power into mechanical power. That is why weight training without both movement and neuromuscular training will not yield successful results.
In order to increase power, plyometric training is effective. Plyometric exercises address the speed component and will improve economy and endurance by increasing the power generated by the muscle. The goal of plyometric training is to train the nervous system to react quickly to the lengthening of the muscle by rapidly shortening the same muscle with maximum force. That is why plyometric training has been proven to boost running performance. The strength component in increasing power is addressed by lifting a heavier load. It is best to periodize your strength training so that your hardest strength sessions come during your speed work period and your strength days are best performed on your harder speed work days. Both focus on neural adaption. Most runner’s believe that strength training should only be done during off season and during your endurance period. WRONG.
Injury Prevention – The repetitive stress of running places great demand on the juscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints. Strength training is a form of protection against these high demands. The muscle fibers are strengthened, muscle mass is increased which will help provide support to joints, and connective tissue is strengthened. All huge benefits. Runners don’t lift weights to build muscle mass, they strength train to allow for more running miles, workouts, and less breakdown as a result of the miles run.
Reasons to seek guidance from a Certified Strength Coach AND Running Coach…
• You don’t know where to start
• You are not seeing results even though you have been putting in the time training
• You are bored with your current workout and need a challenge
• Accountability and motivation
• You are coming back or currently have an injury or illness
I am a firm believer that no one program works for everyone. Each athlete is their own individual with needs, desires, mechanical differences, and “training age”. I complete an extensive assessment with each athlete to determine starting point and areas that need to be addressed through training. For more information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cristin Van Driel
ACSM Certified Trainer
USA Track & Field Certified Coach
TRX Certified Trainer
Owner of Ultimate Stamina Coaching & Consulting