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Weights for runners? (Read 930 times)

RuralRunner


    Hi all. I am 21 and have been running since I was 14. I have always eschewed upper body weight training, mainly because I always thought it added weight I didn't need since I run with my legs (like most people). But I've since changed that view, particularly after reading articles like this (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/olympics/article-2187860/Mo-Farah-weakest-athlete-Ive-seen-says-coach-Alberto-Salazar.html?printingPage=true) and reading other books. I can barely do half a dozen push ups, and too many sit ups make me feel nauseous. 

     

    So what is a good weight program for a medium/long distance runner? (please, no Paul Ryan/P90X quips).

     

    Thanks in advance.

      I'm no expert but I'll share what I'm currently doing, which seems to be working well for me. I try to lift twice a week, doing a full-body workout both times. I do mostly compound lifts like bench press (and incline bench), squats, chin-ups/pull-ups, and rows, plus some other bodyweight stuff like planks, hanging leg lifts, and push-ups. I struggle with form on deadlifts so I tend not to do them. Same for overhead press. However, they're both good lifts to include if you are so inclined. Occasionally I throw in some plyometric stuff like box jumps, but not often.

       

      My upper body strength has increased dramatically since I started doing this stuff about a year ago. I went from not being able to do a single pull-up to being able to crank out 3 sets of 5+ pretty easily. Furthermore, by doing mostly barbell/dumbbell exercises, I've improved my coordination and stability a ton and built up some pretty good core strength. Finally, I haven't really bulked up (though I am more visibly muscular I actually weigh a little less than I did this time last year). My understanding is that most of that comes from diet combined with a lack of endurance exercise.

       

      I'll be interested in seeing what others are doing.

        I'm much older than you two, but I mostly do body weight exercises. I only have so much time in the day to exercise, and I'd rather spend most of that time running.  My non-running exercises consist of:

         

        Upper Body:

           Core Routine from a McMillan DVD

           Chin Ups

           Dips

           Push Ups

         

        Lower Body

           Walking Lunges

           Heel Raises

           Single Leg Squats

         

        Miscellaneous
           Burpees

          How much mileage do you run? I used to do a lot more full-body weight training when I averaged 30-35mpw. Now that I'm up to 60mpw I settle for some very basic weight work -- I don't have the time or energy to devote to anything more.

           

          That said, I devote two days a week to upper-body work. Nothing fancy, about 30 minutes per session. A typical session might include bench press or push-ups, pull-ups and shoulder press.

           

          I also do core and lower body two days a week. I focus more on the core stuff, since I have a history of serious back problems. Also do some squats or lunges -- to help maintain strength and balance in your kinetic chain.


          Fat butt on couch

            Hi all. I am 21 and have been running since I was 14. I have always eschewed upper body weight training, mainly because I always thought it added weight I didn't need since I run with my legs (like most people). But I've since changed that view, particularly after reading articles like this (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/olympics/article-2187860/Mo-Farah-weakest-athlete-Ive-seen-says-coach-Alberto-Salazar.html?printingPage=true) and reading other books. I can barely do half a dozen push ups, and too many sit ups make me feel nauseous. 

             

            So what is a good weight program for a medium/long distance runner? (please, no Paul Ryan/P90X quips).

             

            Thanks in advance.

             

            One thing to remember is that a world-class runner like Farah has probably come close to topping out most areas of development.  So a coach tries to fill gaps where they have weaknesses.  That doesn't mean that the average Joe is going to see any discernible amount of time coming off their time by strengthening their arms.  But perhaps.

             

            Also, an elite runner's whole day revolves around training.  They have time and energy to devote to another aspect of training like this.  I lifted 4 days/week when I was in grad school and single running 50-70 mpw.  Then I ran 80-120 mpw in grad school and had to give up the lifting to do it, both because of time but also energy.   Now with family and job I am finally getting back some lifting in, but I'm doing good to do 60 mpw.  You have a fixed amount of time and energy so you have to find your personal balance.

             

            Anyways, it's not necessarily a negative either.  

             

            I did a pushup routine until I could do 100 straight, then I switched to bench.  My personal program is not as rounded as I would like, occasionally I fit in biceps.  I just don't have time.  A good program is something that works a variety of muscles and you can actually fit it in consistently.

            "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

             

            Poppypbr


              Hi all. I am 21 and have been running since I was 14. I have always eschewed upper body weight training, mainly because I always thought it added weight I didn't need since I run with my legs (like most people). But I've since changed that view, particularly after reading articles like this (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/olympics/article-2187860/Mo-Farah-weakest-athlete-Ive-seen-says-coach-Alberto-Salazar.html?printingPage=true) and reading other books. I can barely do half a dozen push ups, and too many sit ups make me feel nauseous. 

               

              So what is a good weight program for a medium/long distance runner? (please, no Paul Ryan/P90X quips).

               

              Thanks in advance.

              Upper body mass will help a sprinter with their immediate burst of all out effort but it will not help a middle distance or long distance runner in the same way. Training for middle and long distances for the upper body should involve higher reps with less weight, preferably 12 to 20 reps and more, and the emphasis should be on tone and definition rather than size and strength. The additional strength of the arms will help considerably with hills and with end of race kicks. It will also avoid the invariable "stitch" that occurs in the collarbone area when the upper body condition has fallen behind the lower body's accomplishment. Working on the mid body with crunches (careful with situps...they can cause hernias if done incorrectly) and lateral twists can help to transfer arm movement into extra propulsion through the legs. Upper body development also helps with the endurance needed for long mileage. Ultra-marathoners are heavily populated by "big men" because their physical size and strength helps to get them through a 100Km (62 miles) run. Faster but smaller runners are hard pressed at such distances. I obtained my best results using a single barbell with just 65 lbs on it (5 minute miles 3-5K and the ability to maintain 6 min miles 10-15K)  I tried much heavier weights over a longer term and although strong, bigger and very tough for sports like basketball and hockey, the size slowed me down for middle and long distance running. I suspect that the 65 lb barbell may have been a little on the heavy size because I wound up with a Marvin Hagler physique (got a lot of comments from men and women) so I would advise trying just 30 to 50 lbs instead if running is your primary interest.

               

              Here are the exercises I used, start at 8 reps and move to 20 reps gradually not exceeding 25. Also, do the first routine with just one set, then progress to two sets on the second workout before you progress to three sets the second week or it will leave you VERY sore. Work out only twice a week and make sure you eat well to support the program nutritionally: 3 sets bench press, 3 inclined press, 3 standing press alternating front and behind head, 3 fully bent over rowing, 3 inclined bent over rowing, 3 upright rowing, 3 sets abdominal crunches to 20-30 reps, 3 abdominal "twists" holding a weight in your hands (10-20lbs), just 2 sets of toe raises with barbell across shoulders (use a 2X4 for a "careful" extra stretch of the gastronemius), 2 sets of squats, and 2 sets of dead lifts (good hamstring stretch). I recommend you start with the lower body first (toes raises, squats, dead lifts) then mid body crunches and twists, then the upper body. If you start out with a low enough weight (20lbs?), you can actually do the entire routine as a circuit training routine and repeat it three times. It can be substituted for a very solid "running" workout if you are able to maintain the heart and lung effort and keep up the sequence. Do the exercises carefully, without jerking the weight about and maintain perfect to near perfect form. The "twist" exercise can cause your waist to thicken and is the first exercise to reduce or drop as you see fit depending on your results. The advantage to the program is 1)you waste no time changing weights around and you will see dramatic bodily changes, 2) its a great workout substitute when the weather sucks, and 3) you can easily double your strength in just 3 months. Your overall stamina and strength on hills will impress other athletes. You'll be able to grab your "squeeze" by the ankle and literally drag them across the bed...great fun!

               

              Make no mistake about it however. Tossing just 20 lbs around for 11 exercises and 30 sets of 10 reps will have you moving 6000 lbs, (not counting your body weight as well!!!), taking about 90 minutes (with one set every three minutes) and will leave you drenched with perspiration and quite exhausted. When you move up to 50 lbs, you'll be tossing around 12,000 lbs in an hour and a half. If you do it right, you'll have no problem skipping a running workout. Running will seem to be easy by comparison and you WILL become a dangerous person.


              Fat butt on couch

                Training for middle and long distances for the upper body should involve higher reps with less weight, preferably 12 to 20 reps and more, and the emphasis should be on tone and definition rather than size and strength. 

                 

                However, not that one can be strong and can lift high weight, low reps without becoming huge.  If you are running a lot you will be hard-pressed to put on much weight by lifting on the side.  I've increased my bench max from 145 to ~190 in the past 4 months and not put on visible mass.

                "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                 

                RuralRunner


                  Thanks for the replies, everyone. I didn't expect this much of a response.

                   

                  A few things I should have clarified in my original post.....

                   

                  I'm running about 25-35mpw right now, and I intend to take it up to 60 soon. I'm mostly racing 5k to 10k right now. I plan on moving up to the marathon in about 5 years.

                   

                  spaniel, good point about Farah—I forgot to mention that. I have no illusions about my fitness.....that was just an example of the kind of stuff I was seeing that seemed to be supporting the idea that weight training helps running. 

                   

                   

                  I like the ideas here....I didn't know that, like spaniel said in the last post, that I could lift on the side without putting on weight. That's good to know. I'd like to stick with body-weight exercises and maybe small weights and focus mostly on core strength, since my family has a history of VERY bad back trouble. 

                   

                  So....I'll put something together from all this. Thanks for the help guys, and feel free to chime in if you'ge got any other suggestions. Now I've just got to go look up all these exercises and see what exactly they are! Smile


                  Fat butt on couch

                     

                    I like the ideas here....I didn't know that, like spaniel said in the last post, that I could lift on the side without putting on weight. That's good to know. I'd like to stick with body-weight exercises and maybe small weights and focus mostly on core strength, since my family has a history of VERY bad back trouble.  

                     

                    Remember part of what controls building mass is genetics.  You really don't know until you try whether you will build mass or not.  Some put it on much easier than others, but you can't assume you will.

                     

                    Especially with back issues in the picture, I think your focus on core and smaller weight exercises is fine.  I am lifting high weight now because I like to, not because I think it will somehow be better (or worse) for my running than other options.  Personally I don't enjoy core work that much, I think I get it from other things I do, so I do what motivates me to get back into it.  Smile

                     

                    Good luck...

                    "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                     

                    alevansal


                      For most people, it actually takes quite a lot of work and attention to diet to gain mass (hence the use of steroids and/or a bazillion supplements), so I don't think most runners will have this problem.  Runners are generally going to be focusing on their running with weight lifting as a supplement, and it's unlikely that they'll be spending the time lifting/recovering or taking in the amounts of protein required to gain significant muscle mass.

                       

                      I think that focusing on core strength (hip flexors, hip extensors, hip adductors, hip abductors, all the gluteals - minimus, medius, minimus, hamstrings,  all the obliques, and the transversus abdominis) is an excellent idea.  These muscles work together to stabilize the pelvis, and a stable pelvis provides a strong platform from which your legs can work. 

                       

                      My reading and experience with my own body tells me that running alone tends to give people overworked hip flexors and weak glutes, leading to a rotated pelvis which often leads to back pain.  Simply doing crunches and twists pretty much works only the transversus abdominus and obliques.  So while doing crunches and twists are good - they do nothing to work all the other muscles that stabilize your pelvis and to help prevent or correct muscle imbalance.

                       

                      Having said all this - Pilates is a pretty good workout.  Or if that's not your speed, a routine that includes squats (feet parallel and feet turned out), lunges, hip abductions, supermans, pushups, a variety of rows, pull ups, crunches, and bicycles is going to work the major muscle groups.  You can get yourself some exercise bands to do rows - but pretty much everything else on the list can be done with just your body.  Although you can do many of these exercises with a band to add resistance, as well.