Do you love running, but are ready to try to push yourself to the next level? Running takes great muscle endurance, fast recovery, muscular efficiency, and strength. Weight lifting for runners is not going to be similar to the workouts of a power athlete, or of most other athletes. For a runner, you need to train properly with weights if you want to get the greatest advantages.
First, are you a long distance runner, or are you a sprinter? The difference between weight training methods for these two athletes is tremendous. A sprinter needs explosive power, a strong upper body to help drive his momentum forward, and rapid speed. A long distance runner needs fitness, strength for stability and injury protection, and enhanced endurance. The long distance runner needs to have a fit upper body for efficient running motion, but does not want to be carrying excess bulk.
Let us take a quick look first at the needs of a sprinter. As a sprinter you are going to work on two elements in the weight room. You want to build strength in your legs and in your upper body. You want to work on fast movement. Do not get trapped into focusing on trying to lift for massive strength, focus on lifting weights a little lighter than a power athlete, and try to drive the weights up rapidly under control, lowering them more slowly to the starting position. Do repetitions in the range of 8 to 12 reps per set, possibly 3 sets of each exercise. Focus primarily on your legs and upper body for forward driving power. While the hamstrings are critical for running power and speed, the quadriceps are crucial for exploding out of the blocks. Always keep your mind oriented towards the combination of speed and power, instead of focusing only on power. Weight lifting for runners is not about out lifting everyone in the gym, it is about building up your ability to run faster.
For a long distance runner the weights decrease even further. You are not seeking the explosive launch out of the starting block, or the massive driving power of a sprinter. What you need is to build up stability muscles, support, and to increase your muscle endurance and efficiency. The best way to do this is to work with weights you can comfortably lift for 15 to 20 reps and to work on doing 3 sets of each exercise. Doing bench presses and barbell rows will give you plenty of upper body workout, and it should not be necessary to focus on the arms. For your legs do exercises for all muscle groups. By doing squats, hamstring curls, and toes raises you can target all your major leg muscles, and stabilizing muscles. The squats are going to help strengthen your lower back to give you better core strength.
For both types of runners getting a good abdominal workout is a good idea. Crunches, sit-ups, and leg raises can all be used. Having a strong abdomen in the center of your body provides the support and core strength for running. It is an essential part of weight lifting for runners. Make sure to do 3 sets with approximately 15 reps. By building a stronger body, and keeping your style of running in mind, you can reduce injuries, and increase your running efficiency, reducing your times, whether it is 100 meters or a full marathon.