Weight lifting workout plan for runners

May 01 2019

No matter what your fitness goals may be, there are many great benefits to adding weight lifting to your fitness routine.

Whether you’re building strength, toning muscles or simply trying to improve your overall fitness levels, weight training is being promoted throughout the world of health and fitness. But can it really help to improve your running performance?

Well, the short answer is...yes!

The experts at British Weight Lifting have created a bespoke weight training workout plan for runners, as well as highlighting some of the reasons why adding weight lifting to your workout can help you stay on top of your running plan.

Reduce your risk of injury

This is arguably the most important reason to incorporate weight lifting into your training routine, as it’s well documented that running can cause several types of overuse injuries. The constant pressure put on your joints (particularly the spine and lower limbs) can take its toll when you consider how many strides you take in a typical running session.

The average person runs approximately 1,500 steps per mile. That's a lot of steps! Not only that, but it’s also a lot of repetitive force going through your body.

Regular weight lifting activity can strengthen your joints as well as the surrounding muscles, helping to absorb the impact that goes through your body with each step.

Improve your power

Regular weight training keeps your muscles strong and is one of the most efficient ways to improve your power. The more power you can generate, the faster you can propel your body forward with each running stride. This can lead to more efficient movement and faster running times!

Build the ‘right’ type of muscle

This is where science comes in. There are two types of muscular hypertrophy (an increased size in tissue cells), which both benefit different types of exercise.

Myofibrillar - Myofibrillar hypertrophy (increased muscle fibre size) is the preferred type for runners, as it involves improving muscle density and the force at which a muscle can contract.

Sarcoplasmic - Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (increased volume of muscle cell fluid) on the other hand is often the aim of bodybuilder-type programmes. This type is ideal for building big muscles, but not great for runners who need to carry all that extra weight over long distances.

The weight lifting exercises we will cover all target improvements in myofibrillar hypertrophy and focus on improving the contractile forces of the muscles.

British Weight Lifting’s ‘Strong Runner’ workout

1. Barbell Bent Over Row

The Bent Over Row is a great exercise for developing strength in the entire back region. Not only do you engage the upper back with the pulling motion, but you also benefit from having to hold the position statically, which challenges the trunk area and the legs.

 

Preparation:

  • Feet should be hip width apart
  • Your grip should be wider than shoulder width apart
  • Using an overhand grip pick the barbell up from the floor using safe Deadlifting technique
  • Flex from your hips
  • Maintain a small degree of fixed knee flexion and a flat back throughout
  • Aim to get your torso as close to parallel with the floor as possible

Execution:

  • Once set, keep the angle of your back fixed throughout
  • Start with your arms straight
  • Pull the bar in towards your belly button
  • Keep the elbows close to the sides of your body
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the pull
  • Control the descent back to the start position

3 sets of 6-10 reps (1-2 minutes rest between sets)

Coach's Tip: Your torso should be a minimum of a 45-degree angle from the floor

2. Barbell Lunge

It’s important to make sure you stay balanced throughout your body when training. This can help reduce the likelihood of injury as well as making sure that your body is producing equal amounts of force when you run; helping to make you more efficient.

Preparation:

  • Start with your feet hip-width apart or slightly narrower
  • If you are using a bar it should rest across the back of your shoulders

Execution:

  • Step back with one leg
  • Both legs should bend until there is a 90-degree bend in both knees
  • Your front leg shin should be vertical at the bottom of the descent
  • Your torso should have a slight forward lean throughout
  • Most of your weight should be in the front leg

3 sets of 6-10 reps per leg (1-2 minutes rest between sets)

Coach's Tip: Try and avoid walking on a tightrope! Your feet should stay the same width throughout.

3. Press

The Press is a fantastic exercise for developing the shoulders and arms. The upper body is often forgotten about when we consider strength training for running, but having a strong upper body helps you to hold a good posture as you run.

Preparation:

  • Feet slightly wider than hip width apart
  • The bar should rest across the front of your shoulders
  • Take an overhand grip outside the width of your shoulders
  • The bar should be resting in the palms

Execution:

  • Press the bar overhead in one movement
  • Hold the bar over the crown of the head
  • Your elbows should be locked when the bar has reached its peak height overhead
  • Bring the bar back to the start position, controlling the descent

3 sets of 6-10 reps (1-2 minutes rest between sets)

Coach's Tip: Imagine you are pushing the bar through your ears!

4. Stiff-Leg Deadlift

Knee injuries can be a runners' nightmare. Training your glutes and hamstrings can help to stabilise the knee joint and reduce the chances of ligament injuries. The Stiff-Leg Deadlift is an exercise that helps to strengthen the entire back of the body, with an added benefit of helping to improve mobility in the hamstrings.

Preparation:

  • Begin with a traditional Deadlift to get into the start position with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointing forwards
  • Lift the bar to a standing position

Execution:

  • Your knees should be slightly bent but remain fixed at the same fixed angle throughout the lift
  • Lower the bar, keeping it close to your thighs
  • Flex at your hips to move
  • Keep your back flat
  • Lower the bar and push your hips back until there is tension in your hamstrings
  • Reverse the movement to stand back up
  • Your head should be looking straight forward at all times

3 sets of 6-10 reps (1-2 minutes rest between sets)

Coach's Tip: Keep the bar close to your body throughout the movement

5.Power Clean

The Power Clean is a great full body exercise that encourages athletes to generate and improve their levels of power. It is a particularly good exercise as it encourages the body to extend maximally (extension of ankles, knees and hips in particular) which is vital in many sporting activities including sprinting and jumping.

Preparation:

  • Place your feet hip to shoulder width apart (this is usually the same width as if you were performing a jump)
  • Grip the bar outside the width of your feet
  • Your back should be flat and remain flat throughout the entire movement
  • Shoulders should be over the bar and higher than your hips
  • Keep your head up and eyes looking forward throughout the entire movement

Execution:

  • Extend your legs so that the bar starts to rise from the floor
  • Keep the shoulders over the bar until the bar has passed your knees
  • As the bar passes the knees, extend your ankles, knees and hips aggressively
  • The bar should make contact with your hips or thighs
  • As you reach your highest point your shoulders should be elevated and heels off the floor
  • Move your feet wider (into your squatting stance)
  • As the bar moves up your body should move down
  • Rotate your elbows under the bar and up into the front rack position
  • The bar should land on the shoulders, across or slightly behind the collar bone
  • The elbows should remain high enough that the bar does not slip down your chest
  • Extend the legs to finish the lift

3 sets of 3-5 reps (1-2 minutes rest between sets)

Coach's Tip: Make sure your feet land in a squatting position (approximately shoulder width). Moving the feet wider can put unnecessary stress on your joints!

Putting it into practice

If you are pushed for time, why not perform these exercises as a circuit? All you need is a barbell, so you won't be scurrying around trying to find equipment!

Perform each exercise in order and then repeat for the desired number of sets.

If performing as a circuit, keep the rest periods to 1 minute between stations. This will allow for some recovery, but as you will be switching areas to focus on different parts of the body, you should be fine with shorter rest periods.

If you’re up for a challenge, put your cardiovascular system to the test by reducing your rest periods even more (30-45 seconds between exercises). Just make sure you’re not sacrificing good form on each exercise.

You can learn more about the exercises above and many more on one of British Weight Lifting’s educational courses. British Weight Lifting offers courses and workshops that can detail how to execute some of the most athletic movements in the strength and conditioning world. Head over to www.britishweightlifting.org to check out when the next course is near you.

If you’ve been inspired to try out the ‘Strong Runner’ fitness plan for yourself, why not enjoy a free workout on us? Sign up to our three-day guest pass and head down to your local DW Fitness First gym to try out our fantastic facilities.