Strength Training for Runners on a Performance Plateau

June 23, 2017
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Run harder and faster – this is the most common solution proposed for runners who are in a performance plateau. But while this can be effective, the results are only partial and temporary so it isn’t recommended by veteran runners.

The best way to increase your endurance without increasing your risk of injury is alternative aerobic exercises with emphasis on running form. Keep in mind that we’re not suggesting strength workouts involving weight lifting but aerobic exercises with a strength component. Here are our suggestions.  

Leg Exercises

Running is essentially a single leg exercises performed repeatedly. For this reason, single leg exercises are great for increasing your legs’ strength and stamina. These exercises will also increase your hip stability, a vital component in keeping your balance and using your stored power for propulsion.

A few highly recommended single leg exercises include:

  • Lunges
  • Split squats
  • Step-ups
  • Single leg deadlift

If you’re new to strength training exercises, you should research about good form, preferably work with a personal trainer for your first few sessions. You can easily commit mistakes in form and technique that result in injury to your legs otherwise.  

Hip Exercises

Your hips are crucial in efficient running, too, thanks to the important role of hip extensions. But too many runners use their hamstrings for the hip extension phase, which isn’t the right way of doing things. You have to use your glutes since these are the main mover for your hip muscle’s extension.

But this isn’t to say that you should neglect your hamstrings either. Your hamstrings’ strength will contribute to your glutes’ strength so we recommend the following compound exercises:

  • Glute bridge
  • Lateral band walks
  • Hip thrusts
  • Hamstring curls using stability balls and glide discs
  • Nordic curls
  • Clamshells
  • Supine hip extension

Core Exercises

Your core muscles must also be strong and stable since these are crucial in transferring forces from your lower body to your upper body. You will find, too, that the stronger your core muscles are, the greater your running endurance will be. You will also likely be more balanced in your running form.  

A few recommended exercises for core strength and stamina:

  • Plank for anti-extension
  • Side plan for anti-lateral flexion
  • Pallof press for anti-rotation
  • Chops

You are well-advised to ask for advice from your personal trainer at Gold’s Gym in developing a runner-friendly strength program.  You want to build as much muscular strength as needed to reduce your risk of injury and to resist the forces involved in running. You don’t want to put on weight either, even if it’s added weight from muscles, since it can slow you down.  

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