We are aware of the fact that running helps us to improve our cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that even 10 minutes of slow running per day boosts our cardiovascular fitness. However, running is not a sport when it comes to muscle building. This makes it extremely important that we include some cross-training to have balance. Resistance training or weight training strengthens our muscles and joints. It also helps us run faster, longer, and injury-free.
Should I lift heavyweights?
Studies conducted on several athletes using moderate weights vs heavyweights clearly showed significant improvement in strength and muscle mass of heavy lifters. This means light weights may help you grow muscles but heavyweights will make you stronger for more efficient running.
The science behind the connection between efficient running and heavyweight is that high load resistance training leads to greater neuromuscular adaptation. This means your CNS, brain, and muscles adapt well leading to recruiting more muscle fibers and increase the frequency of firing or engaging them. Hence do not stop yourself from lifting heavy weights even if your goal is running.
How often should I do weight training?
If you are new to resistance or weight training, start slow and light. Maintain a frequency of two to three times per week. Perform eight repetitions of each exercise and do two or three sets. Select a weight that makes you feel fatigued by the end of the set.
Remember that you must give your body time to adapt. As it adapts, increases weight and repetitions. Also as you feel your body is adapting to a particular exercise, get some variation. Plan your weight training schedule such that you address all important muscle sets.
Is weight training different for endurance runners?
Sprinters need more mass so that for the shorter distance they can carry a higher momentum. However, for longer distances (5km or beyond) there has to be a balance between muscle mass and body weight. Hence for an endurance runner, it becomes even more essential to develop more lean body mass. This will lead to pure muscle power and less body weight. With more muscle strength available to deliver, we can plan our longer runs well leading to a faster pace.
Weight training or resistance training is an essential part of overall development. It is an important ingredient for an injury-free run. It enhances performance. Also as we age, we tend to lose muscle mass. However, if we want to maintain or improve our running performance, we need to ensure that our muscle bank is not depleted.
Article by: Capt Jitender Fitness and Life Coach H2F Care