The age-old question of every runner ever. Is strength training really necessary if you’re a runner? We’re gonna break down what exactly strength training is and why it is (or isn’t) necessary for runners.
What does running entail?
Running is a cardio exercise. Cardio stands for “cardiovascular” which means it targets your heart. So you’re not just working out the muscles in your legs, you’re working out the muscles of your heart too.
Cardio exercises get your blood pumping at a very rapid rate and often leave you out of breath because your heart is trying to efficiently supply your bloodstream with enough oxygen as quickly as it is pumping. But the good news is, cardio exercises are also the most efficient when it comes to losing fat.
Running is basically the poster child for cardio exercise.
Check out our article on 17 benefits of running that will make you want to run forever!
What is strength training for?
Strength training refers to training the body to target muscle growth – therefore strength. Running is actually partially a strength training exercise too. Because running is something you do with your legs, your upper body acts as extra weight. By using your own body weight while running, you essentially incorporate an element of strength training.
Granted, it isn’t as effective as lifting actual weights or doing targeted strength training, but it’s still something.
Strength training not only helps you get stronger which brings ease for future workouts but it is also the element that helps you tone up. Since strength training targets specific muscles in your body, you can target the areas of your body you want to bring tone and definition into.
So do you need to do strength training if you’re a runner? Well not necessarily. But it will definitely benefit you if you do.
Benefits of strength training for runners
- You’ll have more muscle mass. As you get older, your muscle mass decreases naturally. Strength training can help reverse this process since it is always increasing your muscle mass. Having more muscle mass for runners means that not only will you not tire out as quickly, but you’ll be less sore after every run.
- Your bones will get stronger. Strength training increases your bone density, hence decreasing the risk of fractures. It is especially important to take care of your bone health as a runner.
- Strength training helps joints stay flexible and can reduce the symptoms of arthritis. This is particularly beneficial to runners as running can often cause a lot of pressure to be applied to the joint areas in the knees.
- As you gain muscle, your body begins to burn calories more easily. This will make it easier to control your weight long term. So if you run for weight loss, you might want to consider strength training to help aid with that process.
How can you incorporate strength training into running?
One super easy way to make your runs more challenging by directly adding strength training is adding weights. This doesn’t mean you have to carry dumbells with you on your run! You can opt for something much more simple instead – like ankle/wrist weights!
If you want to really work those leg muscles of yours and increase the strength training aspect of your run, ankle/wrist weights are just what you need. They’re a great way to just throw in that extra strength training and intensity without the risk of hurting yourself. And it’s super easy you just strap them to your ankles/wrists and hit the track.