Runners often neglect strength training, when in fact it should be a non-negotiable part of your fitness schedule. Whether you’re a regular runner, an athlete or just at the starting line of your journey – functional strength training is essential to reach your full potential. With the correct training in your bank expect to blow yourself off the track with phenomenal speed and strength results, only brought to you through smart weight lifting.
Why add functional strength training to your running programme?
- It awards you with overall muscular performance to run longer, faster and harder with not much effort.
- Improves torso and hip mechanics which means you become more efficient.
- Reduces the risk of injury, by addressing weaknesses and improving stability on a multi joint, multi plain dimension.
- Strengthens muscles and connective tissues joints. Allows for a quicker recovery.
- Improves neuromuscular coordination, power and improves your stride.
- Become more confident and comfortable on your feet.
Will strength training make runners feel heavier?
Many runners are led to believe that weight lifting will increase muscle mass and it would thus be harder to run as they’ll be heavier on their feet. Firstly, you need to be certain of the type of weight lifting you are doing, functional weight training using bodyweight and light to medium weights will not shorten and bulk your muscles. Secondly, running sessions are cardio-based and will be more than enough to prevent growing large muscles. Also note that weight lifting on RushTushFit App is purely functional training based, this tones, elongates and strengthens your fast muscle twitch fibres, enabling fast reactivity. Bodybuilders, who prep for staging competitions do little to no cardio OR opt for treadmill incline walking as this burns fat best while maintaining muscle. They do this because they know that too much running cardio prevents them from maintaining the muscles they have, it can also reduce ones muscle gains altogether. It is also very hard for women to grow very large muscles naturally (without steroid usage). So, it will not make you heavier on your feet. In fact, strength training will make you faster, stronger and more efficient than ever before.
What should my training schedule look like?
For optimum results a beginner should perform strength sessions, via UP YOUR PACE via RushTushFit app twice a week. For the other two ‘weighted’ sessions, try boxing, yoga, pilates or other. All your major muscle groups are activated when you run. Therefore, we need to strengthen and target each body part from top to toe.
Which muscle groups should I train to improve my running?
Upper body: Exercises such as a weighted plank push up row. Or jumping medicine ball slams, using both lower body through a rotational power force to generate strength is an excellent way to reinforce your core. You’re also commanding your upper body to work with your lower body. It translates well to the road.
Legs: When running you are not on both legs at the same time, that would be hopping. As your legs propel you as you run, it’s important to have explosive power from feet up to your quad and to your hip flexors independently from the other leg. Plyometric training, one legged jumps with balancing yoga movements, weighted frog jumps, one legged deadlift, kettlebell split snatches, split squats, odd lifting and throwing, weighted bag lifting, weighted bag running and jumping, box jumps all improve that power. Try any barefooted exercises, training in the sand, this too can increase the strength in flexibility and range. You can find all these workouts and exercises in Rushtushfit app and specifically UP YOUR PACE. Which is targeted routine work.
Glutes: Your tush help propel you forward when you run, hold your pelvis steady, initiates hip extension and helps keep legs, pelvis and torso aligned. You also use glute power to help push the ground away from you when your foot touches the ground. Thus, the stronger your glutes the faster you’ll run.
Get to the core: Your ab and back muscles stabilise your spine during running, thus it is important to incorporate core exercises that target muscles around your spine. My favourite are full body kettlebell swings, demanding core attention the heavier you go, use 12-16kg to fire up the sweat spot. Russian kettlebell twists with no lighter that a 8kg.
It’s time to up your pace! Here is one of my favourite combo exercises for you to try:
Single leg Kettlebell deadlift
- Stand up straight on one leg, lower your body toward the kettlebell by hinging at your hip.
- Reach for the kettlebell handle without compromising your shoulder symmetry, grab the kettlebell and lift it up from the ground.
- Finish standing upright, squeezing your glute and spreading the muscles in your toes, engage your core throughout.
This exercise and many more of its kind are is featured on the RushTushApp: Up Your Pace programme.
I designed Up Your Pace using unique exercises to enhance a runners journey. The weight lifting programme takes into account that you’ll be running as well, so the weight sessions are time-efficient. You will not be overtaxing the body but will be challenged enough to see rewarding results. Be prepared to work on muscle groups a runner would need to strengthen and work through movements that may often be overlooked in the gym in order to reach your full potential, faster and injury free.
The UP YOUR PACE programme is available on the RushTushFit App. Download it here: