Our res­i­dent PT Al­ice Live­ing on strength train­ing for run­ners

Women's Health (UK) - - CONTENTS -

While ev­ery­one knows bread and but­ter were made for each other and to sep­a­rate Bat­man and Robin would be blas­phemy, many ex­er­cis­ers be­lieve run­ning and weights train­ing should never mix – for fear of car­dio burn­ing off that hard-earned mus­cle. So you might be sur­prised to hear that mar­ry­ing the two can im­prove both car­dio fit­ness and strength.

The key is in the com­bi­na­tion. Yes, sig­nif­i­cantly step­ping up a run­ning regime, with­out ad­e­quately fu­elling your body through food or do­ing any com­ple­men­tary train­ing, may in­deed burn so much en­ergy that you drop mus­cle as well as fat. But add weights into the mix and you’ll find that not only can you main­tain your body’s mus­cle mass while pound­ing the pave­ment reg­u­larly, but that the two meth­ods of train­ing can be mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial.

Re­search shows aer­o­bic train­ing, such as longdis­tance run­ning, can help make strength ses­sions more ef­fec­tive. How? Lower-in­ten­sity en­durance ex­er­cise helps build the aer­o­bic ca­pac­ity of fast­twitch mus­cle cells – those you rely on for strength and power. It also in­creases blood flow, which can help your body re­cover be­tween in­tense bouts of strength train­ing by re­duc­ing sore­ness.

Flip re­v­erse it and you’ll find lift­ing reg­u­larly aids your run­ning prac­tice far more than just main­tain­ing mus­cle. A Nor­we­gian study found that max­i­mal strength train­ing im­proved run­ning econ­omy in dis­tance run­ners, who were ran­domly as­signed to an in­ter­ven­tion or a con­trol group.

The former did half-squats (four sets of four reps), three times a week for eight weeks on top of their nor­mal en­durance train­ing. The lat­ter con­tin­ued their usual rou­tine (sans squats) for the same pe­riod. Re­sults showed im­proved run­ning econ­omy and in­creased time to ex­haus­tion at max­i­mal aer­o­bic speed among the squat­ters.

The ben­e­fits of strength work on run­ning abil­ity are three­fold: it pre­vents in­jury by strength­en­ing mus­cles and con­nec­tive tis­sues; it can help you run faster by im­prov­ing neu­ro­mus­cu­lar co­or­di­na­tion and power; and it can im­prove run­ning econ­omy by en­cour­ag­ing co­or­di­na­tion and stride ef­fi­ciency.

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