Strength Training for Runners

December 7, 2018

Strength training should be considered by anyone that runs frequently, either leisurely or competitively.

Strength training when done correctly can prevent injuries while helping you to run faster, for longer and more efficiently! You don’t need to take my word for it, let’s have a look at some of the research!

Research conducted by Storen (2008) investigated 2 groups of people – group A completed a squatting exercise 3 times per week, for 8 weeks as well as their regular training regime. Whilst group B completed their normal endurance training regime only. Testing was undertaken before and after the 8 week period. Group A showed an increase in 1 rep max strength (33.2%), power (26%), maximal oxygen consumption (5%) and time to exhaustion at max aerobic speed/MAS (21.3%). This is a huge increase in only 8 weeks! Group B did not improve significantly on any of the measures.

There are many recent studies showing similar results to the above.

In the second study, Beattie (2007) followed a group of 20 endurance runners for 40 weeks, “the intervention group showed significant improvements in maximal and reactive strength qualities, running economy and vo2 max (optimal work rate of heart, lungs and muscles). There was no significant change in body composition”. This indicates that strength training can impact our performance greatly while not leading to an increase in muscle mass and weight.

Now you’re probably thinking I know that strength training is good for me, but where do I start?

We recommend trying to add 2-3 resistance training sessions into your weekly routine, they may be anywhere from 20-60 minutes long depending on how much time you have available. Sessions should focus on strengthening large muscle groups such as the quadriceps, gluteals, hamstrings, and gastrocnemius and deep abdominal muscles. It should also contain a combination of bilateral and unilateral exercises.

Simple body weight exercises can be effective to get you started – squats, lunges, arabesques, bridges, calf raises, paloff press and planks. Once you have mastered these exercises some form of resistance will be required to create additional stimulus.



STØREN, Ø., Helgerud, J. A. N., Støa, E. M., & Hoff, J. A. N. (2008). Maximal strength training improves running economy in distance runners. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 40(6), 1087-1092.

Beattie, K, Carson, BP, Lyons, M, Rossiter, A, and Kenny, IC (2017). The effect of strength training on performance indicators in distance runners. J Strength Cond Res 31(1): 9–23.