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Posts Tagged ‘weight lifting’

Weight Lifting for Trail Running

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Weight lifting is very important for trail runners to help avoid injury.  The stronger your body is, the better equipped it will be to take on the uneven terrain it impacts on finite parts.  So for trail running specific weight training, it is best to focus on the lower body.  Upper body weight training is more for long distance running.  So if you are running long distances and on trails then you’ve got double the weight training to do.  It’s cool, you’ll get the overtime results.

When weight training for trail running you want to focus on strength, power, and balance.  Don’t be like Saddam Hussein squats-for-trail-runningand  only have 2 out of the 3 attributes, trust me, it won’t end well.  Start with squats to strengthen your thighs, hips, buttocks, and hamstring.  Don’t lift a lot of weight even though you may be able to.  Grunting and throwing down your weights isn’t cool, likewise, kicking them  like your in the movie, ‘The Program’ is pretty lame.  Squat your body weight.  If you want to avoid squats try the leg press but again, although it may be tempting to your ego, don’t put excess weight on.  Another way to exercise similar to squats is to hold two dumbells to your side and practice lunges.  This gives you the benefit of isolating one leg at a time, much like your body will encounter on the trail as you pivot and stretch to the next safe step.  You can also do single leg squats on the Smith machine if available.  These exercises improve your ability to vary your steps on the trail without straining your glutes, quads, or hamstring.hamstring-curl-for-trail-running

The next exercise you should do to get specific exercise is the hamstring curl.  To the left you can see it being done on a machine.  If you are not at a gym you can lay flat on your stomach and lift your muddy trail running shoes for extra weight in the same manner as the picture.  This exercise will improve your breaking ability when trail running downhill.  However I don’t recommend breaking when trail running downhill.

Another important area to improve for trail running with weight training is your ankles.  Grab some ankle weights or wrap a flexible weight around one ankle.  Then rotate your foot from side to side, in a circle, or do the alphabet.  You know the alphabet motion.  Do this exercise one ankle at a time to prepare your pivot points for single impacts on the trail.

Another great work out for the trail is calf raises.  Use the machine at your gym or stand up repeatedly like your in the back of a group trying to get into the picture.  This will help in your uphill trail running as you dig each step closer to the top.  Although it may be tempting, avoid adding too much weight.  You want to focus on more reps to run up the long hill not carry furniture up stairs.  It is important to stretch before and after calf raises because calves tend to get tighter than other muscles.

Even though your lower body is taken care of don’t forget to work your core and back, both are important as you pivot your upper body down the singletracks of the trail.  Remember, you don’t have to look like a trail runner to be a trail runner.  Don’t feel sorry for yourself, bulk up!

Weight Training for Running

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Weight Training is important for all types of runners, even distance runners.  I’m taking some time off distance running due to an injury, but I’m not taking time off of getting my running body in the best possible shape.  Look out dumbbells!


In order to begin weight training for distance running you first need to decide on what parts of your body you want to focus on.  Upper back, shoulders, triceps, biceps, chest, hamstrings, calves; whatever, they all can help improve your distance running.  Once you decide which areas of your body you want to work on, you need to make a plan, just like your training plan for running.  This can be as detailed as how many reps you do at a certain weight on every exercise or as simple as keeping track mentally of what muscle groups you work out during each session.

For a novice weight lifter there are a couple of important things you should know before starting to weight train.  First is to maintain the proper mechanics to maximize your work out and not injury yourself.  If you aren’t sure how to do an exercise and an example is not posted in the gym, don’t attempt it.  While resting, watch other weight lifters to see how to properly do each exercise.  Just don’t stare too long or they might get offended.

Also while resting, rest.  Resting and recovery are very important for weight lifting.  Unlike running, when weight lifting you are able to rest some body parts while working others.  For instance, you can work out your upper body one day, then your lower body the next day to give your muscles some rest.  When lifting weights you make small micro tears in your muscles which increase strength but need time to heal.  The variety is also good for your muscles.  You need to make sure you change the exercises and weight in order  make micro tears in different muscles and keep your body guessing.  It’s tough to trick muscles, they have ‘muscle memory.’

For long distance runners it is best to lift lower weight with a lot of reps.  That doesn’t mean play around with a bunch of five pounders in front of everyone at the gym.  If you’re going to do that then just stay home.  Exercises such as 4 sets of 10 reps are usually perfect to give you endurance and the strength base you need.  You should be out of breath and not able to lift anymore by your last rep.  As a runner, you want to have muscle balance by working out every part of your body.  When lifting weights I like to put my main focus on the upper body because my lower body gets a good work out from running (when not injured).  I’ll write about specific exercises later…now that I got your all excited about lifting weights.

Lifting weights can really help you get into maximum running endurance and improve your overall body shape.  You may be a long distance runner, but you don’t have to look like one!