Going stronger: Strength training for Runners

More and more runners recognize the benefits of strengthening their muscles. In this article, you will learn why strength training is a useful complement to running training and how you can effectively integrate it into your training plan.

From how many running sessions per week does strength training make sense?

The question of when you should start strength training depends on various factors. Basically, however, we can say that supplementary strength training can be useful from two to three running units per week. Through targeted strength training, you can improve your running performance and prevent injuries at the same time. However, it is crucial to do strength training in moderation. This is important for two reasons: firstly, strength training should not displace running training, and secondly, it is essential to avoid overloading here as well. As a rule, one to two sessions per week are sufficient.

The benefits of strength training for runners

Strength training offers a variety of benefits for runners. Strong muscles provide better stability and coordination while running, which in turn improves running economy. That means you can run faster and more efficiently with less energy expenditure.

In addition, strength training helps prevent injuries. Strong muscles absorb impact and stress better, which reduces the risk of injury. At the same time, strength training promotes balance between different muscle groups, which prevents imbalances and resulting injuries.

Last but not least, strength training helps enhance overall fitness. It increases bone density, improves posture and can even boost metabolism. This means that you’ll reap the benefits of strength training not only when you’re running, but also in your everyday life.

The muscle groups that should be trained

Strength training for runners focuses on specific muscle groups.

  1. Legs: Here you’ll focus particularly on the thigh muscles, calves and glutes. Exercises like squats, lunges and calf raises are particularly effective.
  2. Trunk: A strong trunk is crucial for a stable posture while running. Abdominal muscles, back muscles and lateral trunk muscles should be trained.
  3. Arms: The arm muscles support the movement of the legs and help maintain balance. Push-ups and tricep dips are good exercises to increase arm strength.

The choice between training with your own weight or weights depends on your individual goals and fitness level. Beginners should start with own-weight exercises to learn proper technique and consolidate the basics. Advanced runners can gradually introduce weights to further strengthen and challenge their muscles. It’s important to perform the exercises correctly to avoid injury, whether you train with your own weight or with weights.

By the way: In the running.COACH app (iOS / Android), exercises are suggested to you on suitable days.


You can also find more exercises here

How do I perform the exercises?

When it comes to strength training in running, the question often arises whether you should perform many repetitions with lighter weights or few repetitions with heavier weights. The answer depends on your individual goals and your current training condition.

  • Many repetitions (high reps): If you’re mainly aiming to improve your muscle endurance and muscle mass isn’t a primary focus, many repetitions are appropriate. This means choosing lighter weights and performing 12 to 15 reps per set. This type of workout is good for strengthening muscles for longer loads while running and increasing overall stability.
  • Few intense repetitions (low reps): On the other hand, if you’re aiming to increase your muscular strength and endurance, few, intense repetitions with heavier weights are recommended. Here you choose weights that allow you to do about 6 to 8 repetitions per set. This training helps to strengthen the muscles more effectively and can help you to better cope with mountainous terrain or fast intervals when running.

On which days should strength training be avoided?

Avoid strength training on days when you have a key workout coming up. This means on days with an intense or long run. If you want to combine your strength training with a running workout, keep the following in mind: If the focus is on running, then the exercises should only be completed after the running workout, so that you do not start running with pre-fatigue.

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