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18
December
2020

Strength Training for Runners

Which weight training program is most beneficial for runners and endurance athletes

 


 

The European Journal of Sports Science recently publishing the findings of 3 different strength training programs for runners

42 runners, split into 3 groups were given one of 3 strength training programs.
Group 1; heavy strength training (HST)
Group 2; complex strength training (CPX)
Group 3; endurance strength training (EST)

This was a 6 week study and each runner had to complete the given strength training program twice a week in addition to their given running program. All the runners were asked to stop their strength programs 6 months before this study began. 

The research looked at strength variables (maximum isokinetic eccentric and concentric strength), power variables (squat jump and counter movement jump) and run performance surrogates (vVO2max, the velocity you can run at VO2max and running economy).  

 

Strength Training Protocol

Group 1; heavy strength training (HST)
All with 3’ recovery
Back Squat: 70-85% 1 RM - 5 sets x 5 reps
Split Squat: 70-85% 1 RM - 5 sets x 5 reps (each side)
Lunge Walk: 70-85% 1 RM - 5 sets x 5 reps (each side) 

Group 2; complex strength training (CPX)
All with 4’ recovery
Back Squat: 70-85% 1 RM - 3 sets x 5 reps
Drop Jump: 30 cm box – 3 sets x 6 reps
Split Squat: 70-85% 1 RM - 3 sets x 5 reps (each side)
Single Leg Hop: BW – 3 sets x 6 reps (each side)
Lung Walk: 70-85% 1 RM - 3 sets x 5 reps (each side)
Double Leg Hurdle Hop: - 30 cm hurdle – 3 sets x 6 reps 

Group 3; endurance strength training (EST)
All with 1’ recovery
Back Squat: 30-40% 1 RM - 5 sets x 20 reps
Split Squat: 30-40% 1 RM - 5 sets x 15 reps (each side)
Lunge Walk: 30-40% 1 RM - 5 sets x 10 reps (each side)

 

Each program was designed to match training loads; no one group were asked to train for short or longer periods. Each of the 3 programs consisted of the same exercises; back squat, split squat and walking lunges. The difference being the number of sets and repetitions. 

 

 

 

 

The CXT group was given a “complex pair”. A ‘complex pair’ is when a traditional strength training exercise is ‘paired’ with a more powerful plyometric exercise in the same movement pattern. Pairing traditional strength exercises with a quicker, more explosive exercise you achieve better neuromuscular and force generating capabilities of muscles and motor units. 

The pairings were; 1) back squat & drop jump, 2) split squat & single leg hop, 3) walking lunge & double leg hurdle hop. The protocol of this CPX was for the runners to do a set of 5 reps of the traditional exercise followed by a set of 5 reps of the plyometric-type exercise. 

The HST group did 5 sets of 5 reps of the exercises at 70-85% of their one rep maximum.

The CPX group did 3 sets of 5 reps (as they had more overall exercises due to the complex pairing). The EST group did 5 sets of 10-20 at very light weights, 30-40% of their maximum. 

Each runner was given a similar running training program; about 30 miles per week, mainly low-intensity, with some higher intensive sessions. 

 

Findings 

HST and CPX produced similar improvements in maximum strength, power, running economy and vV02max. 

HST and CPX resulted in greater eccentric strength and running economy improvements than EST.

EST produced no responses.

These findings support the many volumes written in favour of heavy or plyometric strength training over low weight, high repetition strength training.  Although this was a running specific test, the principles would be true for other endurance sports.

 

 

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Categories: All topics, Running

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