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Strength training for runners


Perform these exercises consistently, in a progressive manner, and you will run faster for longer.

The enormous benefits of strength and conditioning for runners is still not widely known. Although, in recent years, some top level athletes have done their bit to bring this knowledge to the masses. Concurrent strength and endurance training will make you an all-round superior runner.

Some the benefits runners can expect from regular strength training include –

Improved running economy – Due to having stronger muscles which are more resistant to fatigue.
Reduced foot contact time with the ground – Due to having stronger muscles that decrease ground contact time.
Increased stride length – Due to having stronger muscles which can now propel you further forward with each stride.
Injury prevention – Due to having stronger muscles which are more resistant to injury.
Improved aerobic fitness – Due to the increased ratio of capillaries in the muscles.
Stress reduction – Increased antioxidant status within the body due to weight training.
Increased proportion of type 11A muscle fibers – Allows the runner to maintain their top speed for longer.

What kind of strength training is best for runners?

Runners will need a different strength training programme compared to a bodybuilder. Isolation exercises, such as a tricep kickback, really won’t do much to increase your running performance. Instead, focus on multi-joint exercises, such as barbell back squats, dumbbell lunges, deadlifts, pull-ups, weighted rows and bench press variations.

A common mistake endurance competitors make is performing muscular endurance (low weight and high repetitions) resistance training. This type of resistance training would have very little benefit to an endurance competitor. Instead, focus on heavy load training for low repetitions to build up a basic level of strength. This will have greater carryover to endurance sports allowing them to run fast for longer.

Below are the 5 exercises that our strength and conditioning coach recommends you include into your strength training workouts.

•Barbell back squats
•Dumbbell Lunges
•Lying hamstring curls
•Bench press


How often should a runner strength train to reap the benefits without negatively effecting their running performance?

Answer: It is slightly dependent upon how long your runs are and what event you are training for. However, on average 2-3x times per week. If you plan on strength training and going for a run on the same day, always perform the strength training first, ideally in the morning and then run in the afternoon/evening.

Does the frequency of my strength training sessions need to change as I get closer to a race?

Answer: Yes. Strength can be maintained without training between 21-30 days depending upon how advanced you are. I recommend de-loading (reducing volume of your strength workouts) 7 days before your race. Example – 7 days before your race your last few weight training sessions should be performed with 50% of your usual weight and number of sets. Also, do the same thing with your running workouts, 7 days before the race reduce the frequency and duration of your runs by 50% and do not run at all 72-48 hours before the race.