10 March 2015

Are you strong enough to run?

Kathleen McQuaide from the Sports Science Institute of South Africa answers some of the frequently asked strength training questions.


Whilst on a running programme, strength-training should play a key role in your regime.  Kathleen McQuaide from the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) answers some of the common questions people ask with regard to running and strength training.

1.    ‘Will strength-training really benefit my running?’

DEFINITELY! Strength training can:

- Increase leg strength
- Increase strength and stability of the support muscles
- Strengthen muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments
- Enable muscles to be trained faster and further
- Increase time to exhaustion
- Decrease fatigue in the upper body and improve posture
- Reduce incidence of injuries
-  Improve running economy

2.    How often should I strength-training & how many exercises should I do?

The SSISA recommends strength-training twice a week.

Exercises to for strength:

- Do 1 to 2 sets of an exercise, where one set is 12 – 15 repetitions.
- Do about 6 - 8 exercises during a strength-training session.
- With the bigger exercises, rest for 30 – 60 seconds after a set
- With the smaller exercises, rest for 30 seconds after a set.

3.    What if I am sore?

If you are still considerably sore afterwards and it affects your regular training, go lighter on the next workout, take an extra day to recover, stretch and consider getting a massage.

- Train regularly.
- Give each body part attention.
- Focus on those body parts, which are the weakest.
- Ensure a sports-specific training progression.
- Make sure that 1 muscle does not dominate your focus, balance your training.
- Strengthen the entire range of motion.
- Cater for adequate recovery between each training sessions.
- Emphasise your core strength and stability early on in your programme.

5. What upper & lower body exercises are suggested for runners?

Note: You must please get a trained instructor to illustrate these exercises to you.

Upper body exercises of value are:

Using dumbbells:
- Bench press
- Bent-over rows
- Shoulder press
- Lateral raises
- Bicep curls
- Triceps kickbacks

Lower body exercises of value are:

- Two-legged squats/dumbbell squats
- Alternating lunges/step-ups/walking forward-lunges
- Hamstring curls
- Leg raises
- Calf/heel-raises
- Abdominal work

If you have little time, preferably do the larger exercises, which combine muscle groups and therefore save time.      

Read more:

First time marathon runners: don't be scared!         

What long distance running can do for you                                                                      

Hill training doesn't have to be dreadful




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