29 January 2022

Why Strength Train?

Guest post by Max Roger

Strength training is the forgotten child of run training. However, it could be the thing that moves your performance forward the most this year.

There are 2 main reasons to strength train:

1. Increase the capacity of your body to handle training and racing.
2. Improve your performance with greater power and efficiency (less energy leaks) per stride.

Both of these also have the side-effect of decreasing your risk of injury.

Firstly, let’s clarify what I mean by strength training. The common perception is that it’s lifting really heavy weights – the sort of stuff that you see sweaty blokes doing in the gym, grunting and leaving everything a mess. But strength training is simply training where you challenge your posture and position with external load.

This could start with no external load, with bodyweight movements. You can progress this by slowing down the movement, or pausing in different places. When that becomes too easy you can introduce some weights. If you’re already at this stage then it can involve heavier and heavier weights until it’s judged that you’re at a point of diminishing returns. If you’re currently not doing anything then start with 1 session a week. Over time this can build to 3 – or even more at certain times of the year if you require it.

“Strength training is where you challenge your posture and position with external load.”

The important thing is that you are challenging your body in different Primal Movements, which will strengthen you and so help to improve your performance and decrease your risk of injury. The Primal Movements are:

1. Squat
2. Hinge
3. Lunge
4. Brace
5. Rotate
6. Push
7. Pull

Squat and lunge variations are fairly simple, bending at the ankle, knee and hip with your legs beside each other for a squat, and having one leg in front of the other and doing that for a lunge. A hinge is where you bend at your hips but keep your back flat, such as a single leg RDL. Bracing can be as basic as a plank or involve walking as you hold things in different positions. Rotation is usually missed but is hugely important and can be anything from a Russian twist to a lateral medicine ball throw. Pushing and pulling should cover doing this overhead, as well as forwards and backwards.

All are important to develop. Initially you might wonder why developing your upper body strength is important, but it allows you to use your arms more, which provides the stimulus for a more powerful leg drive. More importantly, it allows you to maintain your proper running form for longer, rather than hunching over (which is not only going to negatively affect your running performance but is also bad for your body in the longer term). This is especially important in longer races where you are carrying a backpack for your water, or even longer where you have other supplies in there.

If you’re not sure where to start then contact me at max-performance.co.uk and we can have a call to go over it.

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