Maximise Your Running Performance By Lifting Weights…Get The Balance Right

As a company that prides itself on its multi-brand facility, it’s only right that we at Discount Supplements should aim to be multi-faceted too. In our quest to cater to all your sporting, training, health and nutrition needs we often find ourselves torn between posting articles on resistance training and/or running, triathlons and the likes of. The truth is that both running and resistance training are equally as beneficial when it comes to health, fitness and well being... they just exert their benefits is slightly different ways.

My decision on what to write about today was far easier than normal however, because for a change…we’re meeting in the middle and writing about both! You see, a runner that incorporates resistance training into their routine will notice improvements in strength, muscular endurance, joint integrity and cardiovascular function. Granted any form of bulking isn’t recommended for a runner’s economy, but if weight is heavy and reps low then the outcome is maximal strength with minimal bulking!

Ask any bodybuilder worth his/her salt, resistance training isn’t just ‘lifting weights’! The volume of reps, total weight, tempo and type of loading (progressive, positive, negative etc) all play a part. Therefore lifting a heavy weight for 6-8 reps is best if strength with minimal bulking is required. A daily routine incorporating heavy lifting will (just as strong men like Terry Hollands or Mariusz Pudzianowski will tell you) eventually increase muscle mass, but if this is performed once or twice a week in conjunction to a regular running routine, then strength will increase but size will remain relatively constant. You can see footage of any top bodybuilder training on Youtube, just type in Jay Cutler, Ronnie Coleman or Kai Greene and take a look at the speed at which they perform each rep. High intensity repetitions are key to maximising blood perfusion to the muscle. Elevated blood flow results in a better muscle pump, which concomitantly increases delivery of amino acids, growth hormones and energy. These all maximise growth…but you’re a runner and not a bodybuilder so train wisely.

So hopefully you can see what I’m trying to say…resistance training can be very useful to runners, if it’s performed properly. Arguably one of the world’s leading authorities in strength and conditioning, Charles Poliquin clearly describes the benefits attributed to lifting weights and improving speed, strength, definition, joint integrity and maximal aerobic (with oxygen) speed!

Improve speed and joint integrity

Poliquin explains that strength gains (whilst limiting bulk) improve linear and lateral speed, and linear plane (straight line) compound movements such as squats and knee extensions enhances the strength of connective tissue supporting the knee, ankles and hips (classic problematic areas for runners).

Balance out muscular imbalances

A well planned resistance routine can help to rectify structural imbalances which may lead to compensatory, repetitive strain injuries, or hinder your overall running performance. Calf exercises were seen to reduce the onset of shin complaints such as shin splints, your calves take a pounding when running so it’s important these are up to the challenge!

Support a healthy internal and external environment

It is well known that endurance training places a lot of strain on the body, particularly the cardiovascular system and internal organs. Both short intense bouts of exercise, as well as prolonged physical activity were seen to increase the release of stress hormones such as cortisol. High levels of cortisol contribute to oxidative stress whereby free radicals (toxins) collide with internal organs causing chronic inflammation and long lasting damage! If overtraining is a risk then the first line of defence is to tone things down a bit, particularly on the endurance front. Other good courses of action include a well designed strength training session which when combined with a balanced diet (see articles on antioxidant diets) can reduce oxidative stress.

So in conclusion, running in isolation is great for endurance levels, reducing body fat, increasing bone mineral density, elevating the heart rate and getting some fresh air, but variation is integral to longevity. Try to incorporate one or two resistance sessions a week in order to maximise your potential, but don’t think you bodybuilders out there are getting away with it…a light jog at 50% of your maximal heart rate (aka the target zone) is known to maximise fat burning, as well as limbering up those muscles and joints!

Balance is the key…so do all you can to get it right.

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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