Lifting Your Way to Better Running

Running offers one of the best cardio workouts and whole body toners out there, which is why the simple sport has held its own amidst higher-tech forms of cardio. If you are an avid runner, it’s probably hard to tear yourself away from pounding the pavement and try other forms of exercise, such as weight lifting. Did you know that lifting cannot only make you stronger, but it can also make you faster? Yes, you can get better at running by lifting dumb bells.

muscular woman in bikini running on beach

Benefits of Weight Lifting

As a runner, you rely on the strength of your legs to push you forward. Weight training exercises can build strength in your glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and hip flexors — so your legs can push you forward faster. And weight lifting for your upper body provides more strength in your core and your back to stabilize your body when running over uneven ground. The muscles in your lower back help push you forward and those in your upper back help keep your body in an upright runner’s stance.

Many runners have well developed quads, but hamstrings that are less powerful. By performing weight lifting exercises that strengthen and tone your hamstrings, you boost your potential for speed.

Choosing Exercises

Not every weight lifting exercise will benefit runners. Prioritize hamstring, back and core exercises to realize a difference on race days. That said, if you want to work your deltoids, biceps and chest muscles, feel free to get creative — but don’t expect a round of bench pressing to impact your performance as a runner.

Weight lifting exercises may be performed at the gym or at home with dumb bells. You don’t really need any fancy equipment — just weights that you can lift for 10 reps without failure. Weights that you struggle to lift just once or twice are too heavy, and those you can lift for 50 reps before tiring are too light.

To start, work strength training exercises into your workout routine twice a week. These exercises should take just 15 minutes to start, or longer if you choose to work in additional exercises to strengthen and shape your body.

Exercises to Try

Get started with these three exercises. You’ll notice the different in your core, shoulders, back, glutes, hamstrings and quads. After a round of exercises, stretch to prevent muscle cramping.

Chin Ups: As you hoist your chin to touch a chin up bar, you work your core, back and shoulders. If you’ve never been able to do a chin up, start small and don’t give up. Place a bench beneath your chin-up bar. With your feet on the bench, push off to jump up so your chin rests above the bar. Then use your muscles to lower down slowly, feeling a burn. Try to complete 3 sets of 20 reps.

Lower Body Russian Twist: Lying on an exercise mat, place the soles of your feet on the ground. With your shoulders on the mat, lower your feet to the right. Bring your feet back up and lower them to the left to complete one rep. Do 3 sets of 20.

Overhead Lunges: Holding a weight in each hand, raise your arms to the sky. Step forward with one foot into a lunge, bringing your opposite knee to skin the ground. Lunge again on the other side for one rep.

As you improve total-body fitness, you’ll notice improved speed and stamina when running and firmer muscles overall. These physical differences may provide enough motivation for you to keep lifting your way to better running.

Holly Hammond

Holly is an Indianapolis native with a passion for living a healthy lifestyle. She is an avid runner, running 12 half marathons last year alone, and a dedicated yogi. When she isn't practicing her headstands, you can find her blogging on behalf of Sears and other brands she loves.

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