Weight Training Basics for Runners
If you are interested in weight training for runners then read on. If not, don’t worry; it’s okay!
You’re here because you want to get into some kind of shape so you can run faster and enjoy your life more.
That’s great, but what if I told you that all those fancy exercises and machines aren’t going to do anything? What if I told you that you need to actually work out with weights?
Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to do today.
You see, there are many reasons why someone might want to start working out regularly. Maybe they have a job where they need to move around a lot or maybe their day just isn’t very active and they feel like doing something every now and then will keep them from getting bored.
Whatever the reason, you’ll probably benefit from starting to exercise regularly.
But before we go any further, let me give you a little background info on yourself. Let’s say that you’re 25 years old and live in the United States of America.
So far, so good right?
But here’s where things change a bit. Let’s say you’re a little on the heavier side and you have terrible eating habits so even that “healthy weight” you have is starting to look a little fluffier than it should, not to mention you don’t get much exercise because well… You just don’t.
And the one habit that really needs to go?
Your smoking habit. Yikes.
But let’s get back on topic shall we? What kind of exercise should you do and how can you get yourself to do it?
The unfortunate answer is, there really isn’t any exercise that’s right for everyone. Some people might like going to the gym and running on those fancy machines or maybe even taking a class, while others might be more into outdoor activities such as hiking or swimming.
The choice is completely up to you, but what if you don’t have time for any of that? Or let’s just say you want to start out slow, what then?
At this point you’d be looking into some kind of weight training program. There are several benefits to strength training such as increased muscle mass, fat loss, bone density, and more resistance against injuries. Basically, it’ll make you stronger and healthier. Not only that, but weight training is also one of the most efficient forms of exercise needing the least amount of time to start seeing results.
But as I said before, there are several different ways to go about weight training. You could join a gym and work with some of their equipment or you could buy some of your own such as dumbbells and start working out at home.
There are benefits to both of these choices which we will explore in greater detail in another article, but for now let’s just say you’re going to be working out at home.
So now that you’ve decided to work out at home, you’ve saved yourself the hassle of driving to a gym and paying their monthly fee, but you still need to buy some equipment right?
Today’s market is filled with all kinds of products designed to get you into shape and help you reach your goals. There are many different manufacturers out there and their products range from high to low in quality and price.
But all of them will claim that their product is the greatest and you just can’t go wrong with buying it, right?
Wrong. Let’s take a look at some of these products and see if they’re really going to help you reach your goals or if they’re just something you might want to skip over.
The first product we’re going to talk about are exercise machines. You’ve seen them in commercials, on infomercials or at your local gym.
They usually consist of some sort of board or bench with pedals, wheels or other mechanisms that you move in order to perform the exercise. The argument for these machines is that they are designed with specific motions in mind to fully work the intended muscles. For example, some machines are made to focus on exercises for your legs such as the leg extension machine, which works out only your quadricep muscles. The problem with these machines though is that while they may work out a particular muscle, they don’t necessarily help you achieve your goals outside of the gym.
What does this mean?
It means that let’s say you use the leg extension machine to work out your quadriceps, you can now lock yourself in a prison of muscle as your quad muscles have become so large and strong that you can no longer walk correctly or even move around without the use of the exact same machine that made you this way in the first place!
Another problem with these machines are that they are usually quite costly and not always available to purchase. Not to mention, most of them aren’t even invented yet meaning you’d have to spend a lot of money on something that may or may not work as well as it should.
Sure, the more expensive exercise machines at least come with a money back guarantee, but that doesn’t help you if you need to use it immediately for your goal and not while hopefully they fix all the possible defects in their ‘perfected’ model.
The next product we’ll talk about are cables. These are the long ropes attached to weights on each end that you see some people in the gym using.
The advantage to these, is that there aren’t many exercises you can’t do with them. From working out your back and biceps to your chest and triceps, cables can be used for just about every muscle group in the human body. The problem with cables is that the more you use them, the more you have to keep buying weights for them, which can be very costly. Also, just like with machines, you may find yourself getting stuck on a plateau as the cables are only what they are and can only be used in the ways that they are meant to do. The last thing to think about with cables is that while they may work for most of your muscles, there are some you may not be able to tone using cables such as the ones in your core and you may or may not be able to get your legs as well with them as you would regular working out with free weights and a more open area.
The last type of fitness equipment that we’ll look at are free weights. These are the weights you find in a gym that aren’t fixed in place and can be moved around easily as opposed to machines and cables which stay in one place.
The advantage to these is that they can be used for an almost unlimited amount of exercises and you can make up new ones whenever you want. The only real disadvantage to these is that they can be dangerous to those that don’t know how to use them such as when they try to lift to much weight or don’t know how to use the equipment properly. Also these can be costly if you want to buy them, although many times people will leave them at the gym and just take the easy weight blocks home instead.
Sources & references used in this article:
Effects of strength training on running economy by LGA Guglielmo, CC Greco, BS Denadai – International journal of …, 2009 – elitetrack.com
Maximal strength training improves running economy in distance runners by O Storen, JAN Helgerud, EM Stoa… – Medicine and science in …, 2008 – shelzam.com
Endurance training and performance in runners by K Berg – Sports Medicine, 2003 – Springer
Effects of concurrent endurance and strength training on running economy and VO2 kinetics by GP Millet, B Jaouen, F Borrani… – Medicine & Science in …, 2002 – saskathletics.ca