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Basic strength workout for runners

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 CaelanB 22 Jun 2021

Hello all,

I'm going to start building some strength training into my week in order to reap the various benefits for my running. However, there's such a bewildering amount of information out there on what I could/should be doing. I just want to get started but I just don't know where. Might someone suggest a basic hour-long workout that I could do in the gym 2 times a week? I'm looking for a breakdown of exercises, how many reps, rest times between them, etc... etc... It'd be great if it were something that I could increase the weight in various exercises as time goes by. Especially because I'll have access to weights and whatnot in the gym.

If my running background helps tailor suggestions: I'm a hill runner mainly focussed on doing things like the big rounds. So, long distances with lots of elevation.

Thanks in advance for any help/advice offered!

 Marek 22 Jun 2021
In reply to CaelanB:

The first thing to think about is "what problem are you trying to solve". What do you think 'strength training' in a gym might achieve? Define those and you'll get a better idea of what plan might actually be useful for you.

Personally I'm struggling to see how any gym-based strength training is going to help someone focused on hills and endurance unless they have some very specific physiological problem to address.

8
 Euan Todd 22 Jun 2021
In reply to CaelanB:

One of the main benefits to weight training for runners is in injury prevention, with a secondary benefit of increasing strength (hence high steps/rough and steep terrain are less taxing).  Probably best to keep it simple, especially if you are new to weight training. Do 'compound' exercises (squat, deadlift etc), probably some weighted calf raises (as calves take a hammering on hills), maybe even overhead shoulder press with a bar to keep you back/core engaged and strong. Do low reps with high weights. Go for a few weeks and then assess if it's working, make tweaks as required. If you're also running on any training days, do your weights first - you need fresh legs to make it worthwhile.

Quite a rushed response, and just my amateur opinion - but I wouldn't get too hung up on details right now. What matters more is doing high weight compound exercises - pretty much everyone can benefit from these to some extent. 

 CaelanB 22 Jun 2021
In reply to Marek:

My understanding from the little reading that I've done is that if you've got the time there's almost no reason not to do some strength training. Supposedly the advantages abound: better form, increased efficiency, ability to move faster, injury prevention, etc... Every article I've come across on the topic agrees with that, irrespective of whether you're a hill runner or not. 

Though, if it helps, the primary goal is injury avoidance. I get knee problems from time to time, and I'd like to do what I can to mitigate them. I wouldn't complain about other advantages though!

 Wilderbeest 22 Jun 2021
In reply to CaelanB:

Hi,

I do this twice a week….https://www.fitnessblender.com/videos/lower-body-active-static-strength-workout-strength-and-endurance-burnout

I started it to get on top of “runners knee” and it would appear to have helped.

 Marek 22 Jun 2021
In reply to CaelanB:

> My understanding from the little reading that I've done is that if you've got the time there's almost no reason not to do some strength training...

Sorry, but that's pretty meaningless. There's also no reason not to learn to play the flute, but it's unlikely to make you a better runner. Actually playing the flute might be more useful: It'll help you learn to breathe properly, while the wrong gym exercises might just make you put on muscle bulk where you don't need it.

> Though, if it helps, the primary goal is injury avoidance. I get knee problems from time to time, and I'd like to do what I can to mitigate them.

OK, that makes sense, but what do you mean by 'knee problems'? Gym exercises may help. Or they may make the problems worse. It depends on what the 'problem' is and what you do in the gym. If you really have specific knee problem, go see a good sport physio and see what they recommend.

What I would recommend as a runner's 'supplementary' exercise though is some sort of Pilates-type core work. Most casual runners - particularly desk workers - have weak and imbalanced cores which may cause issues in time. Note however that this is quite different from 'gym' work - it doesn't require a gym or weights. You can do them at home as well as anywhere else.

Post edited at 13:01
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 CaelanB 22 Jun 2021
In reply to Marek:

Thanks Marek, whilst I hear your concern about muscle bulking, the consensus in all the sources I've looked at indicates that strength training is a boon for runners. This includes the physio who I've seen. He recommended that I do strength exercises to get to grips with my knee issues. However, beyond encouraging me to do deadlifts he didn't really give me much to go on. In retrospect I should have asked more questions (my mistake!), but I didn't and so here I am. You are right though, if I do the wrong sorts of strength exercises, or the right ones in the wrong way, this will be disadvantageous to my running. This is not my intention.

Anyway, sorry Marek, but I'm not looking to have a discussion about the merits vs. demerits of strength training, I'm just looking for an hour long workout that I can get my teeth into twice a week; one that will improve my running.

 DancingOnRock 22 Jun 2021
In reply to CaelanB:

Runners in general are very weak. Lots of cardio work and not a lot of strength work. 
 

You don’t need to go to the gym, you’d be better off doing a lot of bodyweight exercises. You can do 40mins every other day at home. 
 

A range of dynamic planks (there’s loads, cycle them round, I can think of 10 off the top of my head), Bicycle crunches, squats, burpees, windscreen wipers, horizontal slow mountain climbers (3 types, legs to elbows, inside and outside), push-ups, heel raises, one leg semi-squat while the other foot taps out the hours on a clock face, skydivers.

Or get a Kettlebell.

Do all the exercises you can find. The ones you find hard, do more of. They’ll all help. Running is going to use all kinds of balance muscles so suggesting one or two specific exercises isn’t going to help in the long run. 
 

12 exercises 3 minutes plus rests of each will give you a good workout. 

Post edited at 13:21
 chris bedford 22 Jun 2021
In reply to CaelanB:

A lot of sensible suggestions here...

youtube.com/watch?v=4yHCz0HxesU&

 elliot.baker 22 Jun 2021
In reply to CaelanB:

I don't have a simple workout but I think I asked this question a while ago and I ended up buying this book which is like an encyclopaedia of what you are asking for. It has exercises in etc. and diagnostics routines to understand where you should focus.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Strength-Conditioning-Endurance-Running-Blagrove/dp/1847979874/ref=asc_df_1847979874/?tag=googshopuk-21&linkCode=df0&hvadid=310942022633&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=743733545966075870&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9044965&hvtargid=pla-466530513796&psc=1&th=1&psc=1

In reply to CaelanB:

>I'm just looking for an hour long workout that I can get my teeth into twice a week; one that will improve my running.

There are no shortage of runners exercises on you tube. There are lots of cross fit ones that are a good full body work out.

As stated above, you need to understand what it is you want to achieve. If it's to prevent a specific injury, you mentioned knees, then it may be that you get strong knees, but then the next weak link appears. You could end up chasing exercises for knees, then calf's, hips, achilles, ITB etc. It could be that yoga and stretching, rather than weights, might be more beneficial.

Personally, I do high reps (~100 in some cases), low weights. I find that works for me. (Running up a hill is not 3 or 4 max power steps, but hundreds of smaller ones). If you are new to weights then start off light and get good form, or you'll injure yourself in other exciting ways.

I mix it up, so that I do body weight as well and have a rest day or two. In order for that to be effective you need to support it with diet. Doing 500 sit ups then eating a family size pizza, might not be as productive as doing 50 and having a protein drink.

I still get injured, now and then. I cant say if exercise make them more or less severe. I know it makes me feel better.

Post edited at 14:16
1
In reply to CaelanB:

Hey there,

I have exactly what you're looking for.

I'm a Strength & Conditioning coach that helps hikers and mountaineers. 

I made two 45min long strength training workouts on my Youtube channel that focus on overall strength working through all the fundamental movement patterns, which will have the same application in hill running as they do in hiking or mountaineering.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkqzF1HLX6g&t=215s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbGfg9TLDQ8&t=450s

The programmes will help you develop lower body strength as well as overall strength.

Before every batch of exercises, you'll have all the variables (sets, reps, rest times, etc).

At the end of each of the workouts I'll also go through how the workout can be progressed.

The warmup is also designed with overall mobility and prehab exercises for both the hip and the shoulder.

Hope this helps!

 waitout 22 Jun 2021
In reply to DancingOnRock:

> Runners in general are very weak. Lots of cardio work and not a lot of strength work. 

> You don’t need to go to the gym, you’d be better off doing a lot of bodyweight exercises. You can do 40mins every other day at home. 

> A range of dynamic planks (there’s loads, cycle them round, I can think of 10 off the top of my head), Bicycle crunches, squats, burpees, windscreen wipers, horizontal slow mountain climbers (3 types, legs to elbows, inside and outside), push-ups, heel raises, one leg semi-squat while the other foot taps out the hours on a clock face, skydivers.

> Or get a Kettlebell.

> Do all the exercises you can find. The ones you find hard, do more of. They’ll all help. Running is going to use all kinds of balance muscles so suggesting one or two specific exercises isn’t going to help in the long run. 

> 12 exercises 3 minutes plus rests of each will give you a good workout. 

This.

Never hurts to have good functional strength for the the other 90% of your life that isn't running, especially posterior chain stuff, and the overlap for long runs is big.

I use rings which can hang anywhere and are semi-open chain so build stability (I have a few imbalances) and do sets of basic gymnastic stuff. Haven't put on a gram of weight, but for the first month or so it slowed my running a bit till it all settled.

I alternate sessions of lots of reps with fewer reps wearing a weighted pack, one of each a week, about an hour each, some posterior leg work in there too. I get the theory with this stuff, having spent a lifetime training, and what matters most is doing it, doing enough of it, and keeping your body interested in it, something I find rings are bottomless for due to their dynamic nature. The muscular endurance aspect is particularly potent due to having to work with complex instability.

 SouthernSteve 23 Jun 2021
In reply to CaelanB:

Look up The 30 Day challenge Kinetic Revolution. This is a good introduction to body weight strength training, flexibility and balance training. 

Training for the uphill athlete:  Steve House & Scott Johnston is a good book which includes quite a lot of hill specific strength training advice

I have never enjoyed the gym and only really used it for 25% treadmill training when I lived on the fens, so I have no specific advise that fits with the use of the gym, but the physio has occasionally asked me to do specific exercises so I suspect you could do a lot for specific issues. However there is some information that you might not need more than one long strength session a week.

In reply to Marek:

I think you’re entirely correct in your assumptions. Back in the 80,s in our little training group we had a national standard cross country and middle distance runner, the world 10K road running champion and Karrimor International Mountain Marathon ( remember that?) double elite winners. Non of us did weights (that’s for climbing), but we did do a lot of stretching and yoga, as well as core exercise. From personal experience and observation, when I was a member of Sale Harriers only sprinters who required explosive power weight trained, certainly middle and distance athletes did not. Bad knees can often be due to wrong shoe choice and I had to have bespoke orthotic shoe inserts made as I found that I pronated badly and differently in each foot which did cause knee problems.

 ianstevens 23 Jun 2021
In reply to CaelanB:

> Thanks Marek, whilst I hear your concern about muscle bulking, the consensus in all the sources I've looked at indicates that strength training is a boon for runners. This includes the physio who I've seen. He recommended that I do strength exercises to get to grips with my knee issues. However, beyond encouraging me to do deadlifts he didn't really give me much to go on. In retrospect I should have asked more questions (my mistake!), but I didn't and so here I am. You are right though, if I do the wrong sorts of strength exercises, or the right ones in the wrong way, this will be disadvantageous to my running. This is not my intention.

> Anyway, sorry Marek, but I'm not looking to have a discussion about the merits vs. demerits of strength training, I'm just looking for an hour long workout that I can get my teeth into twice a week; one that will improve my running.

Can I suggest 2 x 1 hour runs?

2
 JuneBob 23 Jun 2021
In reply to CaelanB:

How does anyone run a reasonable amount without getting injured if they don't supplement running with some "gym" work?

Maybe it's how gym is interpreted; in my mind it's doing mind-numbingly boring things like squats, lunges, etc. Mostly bodyweight exercises, as suggested by DancingOnRock, but also adding some weight to build some margin and because I won't do 10 000 lunges in the gym to mimic the number of running steps.

I hate going to the gym, so it's a real battle, and often I don't. And then I get injured, and I get mad at myself for not having gone to the gym.

Last year I was doing well, a few hours a week of strength training. Last June/July I ran a pb 10K (38.10) and also a couple of 50K+ trail runs. Great stuff.

This year I've struggled to motivate myself to do strength training, doing very little. I've run only 600km this year, having been beset by injuries, compared to almost 1800km at this time last year. I bought a bike to "cross-train" but not only am I getting some injuries from biking as well, the bike gets injured too.

I was thinking doing some strength training tonight, but I've been invited to a BBQ. Yet another excuse to skip it....

 DancingOnRock 23 Jun 2021
In reply to JuneBob:

>Mostly bodyweight exercises, as suggested by DancingOnRock, but also adding some weight to build some margin and because I won't do 10 000 lunges in the gym to mimic the number of running steps.

 

It depends on how you are doing your lunges. Deep slow lunges with long holds and maybe pulses will have your quads burning in no time. You’re using a lot of strength holding your body in a stable static position.

Same as if you hold a squat in the sitting position. You may be able to run for two hours but suspect holding a squat for 1 or 2 minutes may be quite hard. 

 JuneBob 23 Jun 2021
In reply to DancingOnRock:

Yeah, good idea, I tend to do quick reps rather than holding a static position.

 wbo2 23 Jun 2021
In reply to JuneBob:  I'm amazed anyone doing a decent amount of running has time to go to the gym.... but a decent level of core is a good thing. 

Squats et al... aren't you doing hills for power?  Genuine question 

 JuneBob 23 Jun 2021
In reply to wbo2:

I do a lot of hills, and going up is generally ok, but my knees get destroyed on the downhill.

In reply to CaelanB:

If you have access to a gym and want to dip your toes into strength training, the simplest/easiest most spoon-fed way in is a free app called Stronglifts 5*5 although that's 3 times a week not 2. Would post a link but last time I did that the system auto banned me on UKC (it was about mobile data) so Google Stronglifts 5*5 and see what you think

 inboard 25 Jun 2021
In reply to CaelanB:

I like the ‘Strength for endurance’ Instagram feed/ podcast. Tempted to sign up to his programme but quite ready to commit - but lots of good free tips keeping me happy for now. 
 

An excellent book is the new one by Steve House, Killian Jornet and Scott [?], about training for the uphill athlete. Their website of a similar name is also helpful.


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