Strength training is beneficial if you want to improve your cardiovascular health, reduce risk of injury, increase bone health and more. This includes benefits for endurance sports like cycling and running.
Runners can see benefits of combining endurance training with explosive or heavy strength training (Rønnestad et al.). This has to with increasing athletes speed, power output and VO2max. Power is determined by a combination of strength and speed, so improving an athletes endurance is about finding a perfect combination of these two. VO2max is the maximum amount of oxygen the body can use while exercising. The combination of endurance and strength training is used to improve speed and power at the athletes VO2max.
The body develops different types of muscle fibers depending if the individual performs long endurance activities or short fast bursts of activity. With a combination of endurance and strengthen training athletes can slowly alter their muscle fibers to be made more for endurance. The change is minimal, but the main effect is shown in utilization of VO2max and increased cycling cadence (Vikmoen et al.). Similar findings are true for endurance runners improving “short-term exercise capacity and induce muscular adaptations” (Vorup et al.).
There is strong evidence that strength training improves runners oxygen consumption, speed, and sprint performance. The addition of two to three lifting sessions would show results in middle and long distance runners (Blagrove et al.). This lifting sessions could include a variety of exercises that are geared towards improving running mechanics, overall fitness, and injury prevention.
Runners often suffer from injuries of overuse or improper running mechanics. Strength training not only strengthen your muscles but your tendons and ligaments. They become strong under stress allowing them to store more energy and resist overuse injuries. Exercises should be geared toward improving running mechanics and increasing neuromuscular control so movements are controlled and balanced. Running involves a lot eccentric muscle contractions, so it is important to train the same way. This strengthens your muscles, tendons, and ligaments preventing strains or sprains.
Strength Training Exercises for Running
Single Leg Multi-Directional Ling Hops
Targeting Your Soleus- Knee Bent/Straight Calf Raises
Suspended Split Squat– Targets single leg stability, strength, and balance
Standing Hip Flexion With Band
Ankle Inversion/Eversion with Band
Blagrove, Richard C et al. “Effects of Strength Training on the Physiological Determinants of Middle- and Long-Distance Running Performance: A Systematic Review.” Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) vol. 48,5 (2018): 1117-1149. doi:10.1007/s40279-017-0835-7
Rønnestad, B R, and I Mujika. “Optimizing strength training for running and cycling endurance performance: A review.” Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports vol. 24,4 (2014): 603-12. doi:10.1111/sms.12104
Summers, Ryan. “The Benefits of Strength Training for Runners.” Pure Physio, 28 July 2021, https://pure-physio.com/the-benefits-of-strength-training-for-runners/#:~:text=Benefits%20of%20strength%20training%20for%20runners%20include%2C%20but%20are%20not,faster%20racing%20and%20improved%20performance.
Vikmoen, O et al. “Strength training improves cycling performance, fractional utilization of VO2max and cycling economy in female cyclists.” Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports vol. 26,4 (2016): 384-96. doi:10.1111/sms.12468