Running is a great activity that can keep you fit and healthy. But getting serious about it requires you to introduce other activities into your routine to improve your fitness level and endurance, especially when you want to run greater distances. Strength training is a great way to start. It can improve your speed by strengthening your joints and muscles as well as making you less susceptible to injury, helping you perform at your best.
How strength training works for runners
Strength work prevents injuries by strengthening connective tissues and muscles. It can improve neuromuscular coordination so you can run faster, and encourages stride efficiency and coordination, so you can run more effectively.
Scientific research supports these benefits further by suggesting that adding weights to your usual exercise routine could boost your speed and maximal oxygen uptake or VO2 max (this is the maximum amount of oxygen you can use when engaged in intense exercise). This is because your muscles won’t have to expend too much energy to attain a certain pace. Additionally, your brain changes its neural recruitment pattern to use muscle fibers that are more resistant to fatigue, so you don’t have to exert too much energy.
Building your muscle can help you burn more calories
If you are running to lose or maintain your weight, strength training can add to your muscle mass, so your body can burn more calories. Muscle uses oxygen, so with more lean muscle mass, your body has a higher capability to use oxygen and burn calories. So, don’t be afraid to build some muscle if running is your preferred aerobic exercise.
Run more efficiently
Strength training builds your resistance, strengthens your legs, and boosts your endurance. More endurance means being able to run for longer, whilst burning more calories. Moreover, yours muscle will be able to recover much faster from lengthy runs as your body is now more efficient in creating energy from metabolic waste.
When you run more efficiently, you can become less prone to developing injuries at the joints. This means a lower risk of having repetitive stress injuries. Ab workouts, single-leg hops, and squats are some simple exercises you can incorporate into your routine to improve running performance and avoid lower body injuries.