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Running Away From Strength Training?

Posted by Jonathan F. Healthy Living Professional

When I have the time (which, unfortunately is growing less and less abundant lately!), I enjoy making the "rounds" on some of my favorite fitness forums such as JP Fitness, World Fitness, and of course my own Accelerated Strength private forums, exclusive to my online training clients. Personally, I feel that online forums can be a wonderful place to interact with people that share similar interests in health and fitness, as well as a fantastic resource for information and knowledge (and not to mention the occasional Off Topic oddity).

Last week, I answered the following question posted on one of the forums...I thought that it was a great question that I've been asked a number of times by recreational and competitive runners alike looking to improve not only their running time but their injury prevention as well, and I thought that you might all like to read it too:

Q: My friend, a distance runner, needs some advice. He's lifted before and isn't new to lifting, but he's wondering if there are certain lifts and or programs that he should do to help him for his sport (distance running, cross country) I've heard that weight lifting can help prevent knee pain.

Any advice for him?

A: There have been repeated studies of distance running and the effect of heavy weight training to not only improve short term muscle power and stride power in long distance runners, but the ability of a properly balanced weight training routine, along with appropriate soft-tissue work and energy systems training to improve running times, joint health and stability and reduce overall injury risk.

Your friend should be using traditional strength exercises performed at low volumes (1-3 sets, periodized) such as deadlifts and RDL's, as well as unilateral work such as reverse lunges, step-ups and lunges, in a mixture of heavier (4-6 rep range) and somewhat lighter (8-15 rep range) to improve strength and joint stability. He should address soft tissue at the IT band and quads, hip flexors and hamstrings, as well as glutes, adductors and calves, and be mindful not to overstretch (which has no conclusive indication in the literature for being injury preventive and can in fact possibly increase injury potential if it produces hyperflexibility at the joint). He should use at least 1-2 interval sessions and even sprint work as well to supplement his longer runs: he'll see improvements in short-term power and acceleration as well as improved muscular endurance from them.

Answers (6)
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Hi Terie - I can see you're my soul sister.  I like your additional thought about imitating your daily motions in your workout.  What a great visual.  I bet you're a very good trainer.  Glad you like my blog.  I'm soon going to be adding video snippets so I'd love to have you stop back by in the next month.  Cheryl

Cheryl this is a great response.  I agree with you 100%. Personally speaking, as a trainer, I don't always work the same muscle in the same way or with the same equipment.  I switch things around often and many times I try to imitate natural movements.  Pulling the lawn mower cord to get it going works arms, back and obliques - imitate that position with hand weights or rubber tubing, etc.  I think when people try to imitate their daily motions they are more likely to stick with the workout but also more likely to remember how to do it right.  Thanks for your input.




PS:  I love your blog! 

Tyord, I understand where Amy M is coming from about "keeping the body guessing," but I don't think that's a good idea.  I often read about diets that "fool" the body.  And fitness programs that "trick" the body.  Why would we want to fool and trick the smartest resource we have at our disposal?   We are forever developing foods - like Olestra - that trick the body into not absorbing the food as fat.  But there are consequences - namely ... you can't get too far from a bathroom.

When it comes to fitness, I recommend that we work with the body.  Listen to it.  If you stop getting the results you want, if you get bored, if your workout becomes too easy, then it's time to switch it up. 

Our problem is that we're no longer pioneers or cavemen and women.  We don't do daily work that uses our bodies in a natural way like carrying water, chopping wood, chasing after a rabbit, or hand washing the laundry in a stream.  We have to create a fitness environment in order to get a well rounded workout. 

When you're living your life day-to-day, think about how you can increase your fitness potential in your daily tasks like mopping the floor on your hands and knees (don't laugh that's a great workout), taking the stairs, carrying your own groceries instead of letting a spouse do it, etc.  When our lives become our workouts, we don't have to work so hard to "fool" our bodies.  Our bodies become the vehicles that carry us through life and do it in a way that maintains our interest and our strength when we consider the earth our gym.  We climb hills, do pullups on a low hanging tree branch, carry groceries while we do a few curls, and clean house.  Our daily tasks are an important part of our workouts.  No more fooling our bodies.  We work with them...and for them.  Thanks for listening.  Cheryl Miller,

Forgot to clarify --  my answer is for tyord.
I would change it up every 8-12 weeks. You can continue the same lifts but increase the weight you're lifting or the number of reps you're doing, or you can do different lifts for the same muscle groups. The most effective way to build muscle is to keep your muscles guessing. When your muscle knows what's coming and how to repair itself, your results start to slow down. I personally like to do a program for 12 weeks, take a week off for rest, then increase the weight by 2-3% on each lift and do that for another 12 weeks. I'll rest again for one week, and I'll evaluate and see if I'm bored with my lifts and pick some new ones.  As for cardio exercise, the same applies with how your body copes. Keep it guessing and you'll see better results. Hope this helps!
Hi, I've a question here. How often should I change my fitness program? I managed to lose 22 lbs in April, but still do the same program. Is this bad ?
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