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Strength Training- A Necessity for Speed

By Ranell Hobson, MS (Sp. Coach); BA (Db Mj: Sp. Sci & Coach.); Grad Dip (Edu -VET); CSCS (NSCA); ASCA L2; ATFCA L3

Also leading our Maximising Running Performance Course on 17th & 18th August 2018

 

If runners of all distances took strength training seriously then they would most likely see a dramatic decrease in their performance times without any addition to km’s covered each week. In fact, if most runners took away a session on the road and replaced it with an additional strength session, their performance and injury threshold would be better for it. My philosophy on getting the best running performance out of any athlete has always been “Lift,Jump, Run”. This takes into account that Strength is the foundation of resilience and speed. The application of force applied to the ground via the correct mechanics of running will place you in desired running positions and postures to apply force (strength) to the ground to increase your horizontal thrust, and this is why strength is so important to performance.

To be fast you need to lift weight, there is evidence that demonstrates that an increase in strength will increase speed and endurance capacities. It increases fuel efficiency and therefore delays the onset of fatigue. The following guidelines are designed to create strength to increase your resistance to injury and decrease your running performance times. Firstly, address any imbalances or asymmetries in muscle strength, niggling injuries etc that could lead to chronic injury. Once cleared to lift:

  • Train movements (mulit-joint actions), don’t do any isolated training (single jointactions).
  • Lift heavier than you are accustomed, don’t be afraid of load, it won’t slow you down.
  • Spend marginally more time focussed on the lower body than the upper body.
  • Don’t spend forever in the gym, a short, intense workout should be the goal.
  • Include appropriate rest intervals 30 sec to 2 mins depending on exercise and rep choice.

Commence a strength training program in the off season, this is the perfect time to teach correct technique and build a solid foundation for the training to come. Lifting, like running, requires correct positions and postures to ensure the load is travelling through the kinetic chain appropriately, and not creating contraindicated movements which lead to injury. Certain lifts may need to be sidelined until shoulder, hip or ankle flexibility and or mobility is improved. Your focus in the off season is creating a great pillar for strength. This includes developing the strength and stability of the torso and of the hips and legs. Remember, no isolated exercises, stay on your feet and do multi-joint movements. Exercise examples include but are not limited to: Squats (Front & Back), Bulgarian Split squats, Dynamic Lunges, Rear Lunges, Deadlifts, Romanian Deadlift, Glute Ham Raise and Hip Thrusts. Program guidelines are 6 to 12 reps; 3 to 5 sets and 30 to 120 seconds rest. The seven movement patterns that all strength programs should include over a weekly unit are: Squat, Lunge, Hinge, Horizontal Push and Pull and Vertical Push and Pull.

 

An example lower body program is below:

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Exercise

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Reps

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Sets

Rest

Back Squat

10

3

1 min

Rear Lunge

10

3

1 min

Romanian Deadlift

8

4

1 min

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Hip Thrust

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8

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4

1 min

In Season you will need to reduce your volume of training as your running training takes precedence. However, a maintenance program is a must. One to two sessions per week can maintain the adaptations and results achieved in the off-season training. Grass based strength (medicine ball exercises) and jumps sequences can be useful to increase elastic potential and tensile strength of connective tissues. They also provide variety (and complexity) within a weekly schedule. Examples can be found at:

Medicine Ball Exercises

Pictures of programmed strength exercises are shown below:

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Front Squat

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Romanian Deadlift

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Hip Thrust


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