FAQ - Weight Lifting For Distance Runners

First draft written by Ted Kilsdonk, April 25, 1998
Extensive reference has been made to Hal Higdon _Run Fast_  and to the web 
pages written by Sandeep De
Modifications made: May 7-8, 1998, May 24, 1998.
Comments added from email and posts by: Sandeep De , 
Pete , mcbee@datasync.com (Ron), byau@turing.cs.hmc.edu 
(Ben Yau), marathonman@mindspring.com (Sam Callan), Jason Ross

Last modified, Aug 3, 1998
FAQ archived at: http://www.people.virginia.edu/~ejk4e/runlift1.txt
May 24, 1998

     renumbered sections.  Removed discussion of cardiovascular health
because I do not have time to research it.  Corrected errors in sections on
plyometrics, osteoporosis.  Re-wrote suggestions for masters runners.

Aug 3, 1998.
     Added the "so why not get strong" section.

     I have tried to indicate my personal opinions clearly.  Most of the
rest of the document is my understanding of consensus opinion.  Please
comment on this document.



1. How can I best increase my running strength?

2. How can weight training help my running?

3. What will lifting weights NOT do for my running?

4. Which Runners benefit most from lifting?

5. What sorts of Weight lifting should competitive runners do?

6. What sorts of Weight lifting will protect my legs?

7. What sorts of Weight lifting are good for overall fitness?

8. What are plyometrics and how do I use them?

9. Should runners use free weights or machines?  Should they lift isolation exercises or whole body?

10. Will lifting weights make me big and slow?

11. So if you are trying to get strong, why are you lifting lightly? Shouldn't you go heavier?

12. How should I change my diet if I both run and lift?

13. I am working out to lose weight, why does my scale say I am heavier?

14. Are seated leg extensions dangerous?

15. What should sprinters do differently?

16. How often should I lift weights?

17. Should I run first or lift first?

18. What are some sample beginner workouts?

19. How should I do my sets?

20. How often should I change my workout?

21. How should women lift differently?

22. How should masters runners lift differently?

23. What are some other resources for weight training?


Preface:  Weight training is a useful part of a balanced training
routine.  Many endurance runners are skeptical about its value and there
have been some contradictory statements made about it.  There have been
several studies of NCAA runners and weight training.  They were
inconclusive - weight training neither sped them up nor slowed them down on
average.  Most world class distance runners never touch the weight room.
Other top runners feel that weight training helps them run.

     The key is that different runners lift with different routines and get
different results.

     This FAQ argues that weight training will do little to speed up an
athlete already in competitive shape, but will increase overall fitness,
prevents injuries, and can help athletes who are trying to get into good
enough shape to enjoy running in local, club-level road races.

     For clarity it breaks runners into three ideal types:  the competitive
runner who is interested in maximizing her 10K time and not much else, the
protective runner who is injury prone and wants to avoid downtime, and the
fitness runner who is trying to get

1. How can I best increase my running strength.

     The best way to increase running strength is to run against
resistance.  The easiest ways to do this are to run sprint repeats and to
run hill repeats.  Plyometrics and running drills can be very useful.
Plyometrics are mostly used by sprinters while running drills can help all
of us.
     Sprint repeats are simply running fast for a short distance and then
taking enough rest that you can do it again.  Unlike intervals, where the
point is to practice quick recoveries, these are meant to work the body
against wind resistance and its mechanical limits.  They are a real pain to
do well.  Hills are easier to run.
     Find a hill that will take you about a minute to run up.  Run up it
hard, using the body motion that you will race with.  For endurance runners
this means sitting back a bit and letting the big muscles in your butt and
hamstrings move you.  For sprinters or people who are working on their
finishing kick, try leaning into the hill, driving the knees forwards, and
pumping the arms hard.  Come down the hill easily and relaxed.  Be careful
not to go to fast or to injure yourself by pounding too hard.  Most
injuries come while running down hill.  You can also plan your daily runs
to include more hills, and push the uphills when you are doing fartleks.

2. How can weight training help my running?

     Weight training will increase your muscular endurance, especially in
your upper body.  Weight training will strengthen your non-running muscles
and reduce the likelihood of injury.  Weight training can aid
cardiovascular fitness.  Weight training will increase muscle mass and bone
density, both of which are important for people who are getting into shape,
especially women and older runners.  Lean muscle mass is denser and burns
more calories than fat tissue, which also helps people who are running to
increase their overall fitness.
     I feel that for runners weight training gives a second-order benefit.
It will not make you faster, but it can make it easier for you to do the
workouts that will make you faster.

3. What will lifting weights NOT do for my running?

     If you lock yourself in the gym all winter and lift without running,
in the spring you will be stronger but you will not be faster.  (The year I
did it I came out markedly slower.) Being able to lift a lot of weights
means that you are good at moving a heavy barbell up and down, nothing
more.  For a runner, lifting has the most benefit as part of an overall
program of speed work, distance work, and stretching.
     However, lifting weights can add overall strength.  As
mcbee@datasync.com (Ron) wrote:  "I lift to get strong.  I don't want to
weigh less than 170 lbs.  I want to be able to move furniture around the
house when needed.  I've been lifting for 20 years, and plan on continuing
indefinitely.  No, I'm not a faster runner because of it, but at least I'm
pretty strong."

4. Which Runners benefit most from lifting

     The worse your current fitness level, the more benefit you will get
from weights.
     Upper body training can increase endurance and finishing speed,
especially for ectomorphs, the naturally skinny people who generally do
well at running.  If you feel tired in your arms and shoulders, or if your
shoulders come up and tighten in the later stages of a long race or a long
run, then you would benefit from lifting.
     People with knee trouble, especially overpronators and people who are
prone to runners knee, get great benefit from strengthening the muscles.
The best way to strengthen the muscles that you actually use in running is
to run hills and sprints, but lifting weights is a wonderful way to build
up the supporting, balancing, and tracking muscles especially the vastus
medialis, the muscle on the lower inside of your thigh that makes sure that
your kneecap tracks properly.  Lifting also helps the calf and lower leg
muscles that protect against shin splints.
     People who are running for fitness or to improve their appearance also
get good results from combining a lifting routine with their workouts.
This is especially true for older runners as weight lifting can maintain
muscle mass and promote bone density, both of which decline as part of the
aging process.
     Finally sprinters use more upper body strength than endurance runners
and are more likely to benefit from gym workouts.  Linford Christie of
England loves the gym.

     Hal Higdon suggests in _Run Fast_ that the people who would benefit
the most from weight training are masters women with naturally skinny upper
     By contrast, young male competitive distance runners with naturally
good upper body strength and good mechanics are unlikely to see any gains
from weight lifting.

5. What sorts of Weight lifting should competitive runners do

     The classic competitive runner's lifting routine is a light set of
upper body exercises done three times a week on the easy days.  They
usually do long sets, 12-15 repetitions of each exercise for men, use light
weights and never lift to positive failure.  Common exercises are:
dumbbell shoulder press, barbell bench press, barbell incline press,
dumbbell shoulder raises.  Even if they do some whole-body lifts these are
also done with light weights and are often concentrated in the off season.
     Pete  reminds us that most distance runners should
not reduce their running workouts (and especially their lactate threshold
work) in order to do weight work, although weights can be a big help for
milers and middle distance specialists.
     Squats are the best whole-body exercise for a competitive runner
because they both work the whole body and help keep the leg muscles
balanced.  As an added bonus, some people find that a few sets of easy
squats can relieve leg soreness much like the light jog after a long run.

6. What sorts of Weight lifting will protect my legs.

     The most common complaints that runners have are shin splints and sore

     Shin splints:  Many shin splints can be helped or prevented with
stronger lower legs.  Calf raises are good for this.  You can do bodyweight
calf raises at home by standing on a stair with the balls of your feet near
the edge of a step.  Lower yourself down slightly, then go up as high as
you can comfortably - remember to straighten your ankle.  It is a good idea
to hold the railing while you get the feel for the motion.  Repeat about 20
times, and do several sets.  The machines in the gym will replicate that
calf motion, only with extra weight.
     One thing that is useful for the front of the shin is a silly exercise
you can do at home.  I call them bucket raises, others call them plantar
flexions or shin curls.  Sit on a chair with one leg out in front of you.
Hang a scrub bucket from your foot.  Raise and lower the bucket by flexing
and pointing your foot.  This works the muscles along the front of the
shin.  Put more or less water in the bucket to vary the resistance.  Like
most rehabilitative exercises this should be done heavy enough that you
notice it but not so heavy that you can not finish a dozen or so

     Sore knees:  Most endurance runners have hamstrings that are much
stronger than their quadriceps.  You want your quadriceps to be stronger
than your hamstrings in about a 3:2 ratio.  In addition running does not
exercise the vastus medialus, the muscle that stabilizes the kneecap.  Some
good leg exercises to help this are:  leg extensions, squats, and front
squats.  In addition the turned-foot leg lift described in the rec.running
FAQ is very useful.  You may also want to work with straight leg extensions
and the various leg press machines.  Work your hamstrings to keep them in
balance with your quadriceps.  The best exercises for hamstrings are:
squat, leg curl, standing leg curl, and stiff-legged deadlift.  Be sure to
get someone to show you how to do the SLDL - they can be VERY dangerous if
done improperly.  You can not run with a damaged back.  Remember that
flexibility also prevents knee trouble, so be careful to stretch your legs
before, after, and during your workouts.

7. What sorts of Weight lifting are good for overall fitness

     When in doubt always do the large multi-joint movements.  They build
muscle mass, work your stabilizer muscles, and give your entire body
something to do.  The classic five exercises are:  squat, deadlift, bench
press, pull ups, and dips.  Most of us can not do pull ups and dips when we
first start lifting.  There are assisted pull-up and dip machines available
that work the major muscles (but not the stabilizers) that can be useful.
Also lat pulldowns are a good way to build up to doing pullups.  Although
anyone can do a pullup with enough training, most people are just as happy
working with the lat pulldown instead.

     These are the most accessible of the multi-joint exercises.  There are
others.  Hal Higdon was shown how to do an Olympic clean and jerk many
years ago.  He likes them and includes them in his routine.  The lesson
here:  try several things - carefully - and then see which ones suit you.
Do them.

     Beyond this you may want to do some smaller lifts to help you.
Shoulders are very important for a runner.  I like doing shrugs and
dumbbell shoulder press.  Some people like shoulder raises or the various
cable exercises.  Try several, do two of them regularly.  Variations on
biceps curls are also enormously popular, the best ones to work with are
seated dumbbell curls and preacher curls using a special bench.

     You should also be working your abdominals.  See the Abs-FAQ for more
information on them.  Abs will both support you through your other lifts,
reduce the likelihood of getting cramps and side stitches while running,
and firm up your belly for the beach.  Powerlifters work their abs in short
heavy sets like any other muscle.  Runners usually benefit from moderately
long sets.  If crunches are getting boring then hold a dumb bell on your
chest or try some of the crunch variations on the Abs-Faq.

8. What are plyometrics and how do I use them?

     Plyometrics are a good thing for building strength and running form.
They come in the form of box drills and running drills.  Sprinters get the
most benefit from these exercises, but endurance runners can improve their
form and strength with a prope

     Some drills that help runners are:  running in place, standing bring
knee to chest, walking bring knee to chest with arm pump to balance,
running in place or very slowly with high knees, running very slowly with a
butt-kicking motion, hot-foot drills where you minimize your plant time,
skipping for height, skipping for distance, and bounding.  I list these in
order of stress - make sure you are warmed up and well stretched before
doing any, and do not move past the first few exercises until they start

     Jason Ross  adds:  Here is an alternate list of
low-medium-high intensity plyometric drills:

     Low intensity - In place squat jump 
     Medium intensity - in place pike jump, double leg tuck jump, double 
        leg hops, alternate leg bounding
     High intensity - single leg hops, speed hops 
     Shock intensity - in depth jump, box jump

     Remember that the point is to work your muscles, not to cover ground.
Keep the feet moving quickly.  Hal Higdon's _Run Fast_ has a good chapter
on running drills.

9. Should runners use free weights or machines.  Should they lift
     isolation exercises or whole body?

     There is a long debate on working the whole body and isolating
specific muscle groups.  This FAQ will not settle that debate.  The best
answer is pragmatic:  do the exercises that do what you want them to.  If
you are focusing on building up the protective muscles around your knees or
adding a little shoulder endurance then some isolation work will be very
useful.  If you are working on overall fitness then do some whole body
lifts.  Everyone ends up with a slightly different combination, but a good
way to start is with a combination of whole body and free weight exercises
that work your overall fitness and a few isolation exercises to work
trouble spots.  Remember that you only have so much time to work and try to
get the maximum benefit from your workouts.  See the sample routines below
for combinations of whole-body and isolation

10. Will lifting weights make me big and slow

     While many people believe that simply walking into a weight room will
automatically make them look like Arnold Schwarzenegger this is not the
case.  The weight room monsters you see in there have worked very hard for
a very long time to get that way.  They build muscles by alternating
between eating massively and then dieting off the fat, by lifting heavy
weights for short sets, and by staying clear of running and of extensive
cardiovascular exercise.  If you lift lighter weights for longer sets and
keep on running at least 3 times/week for at least 30 minutes then you will
get stronger but you will not get much bigger.  Distance running actually
eats your muscle mass, and there are many stories of heavily muscled very
fit people training to run a marathon and seeing their weight drop by 10
percent even though they ate massively throughout their training.

11. So if you are trying to get strong, why are you lifting lightly?
Shouldn't you go heavier?

	Light lifts as presented here are not the best way to get strong.
But they will make you stronger without stressing the body overmuch.
Remember that (in the absense of recovery-enhancing drugs) the human body
can only recover from three or four hard workouts a week.  The usual
runner's week includes: long run, speedwork, tempo/threshhold run.  That
is three hard workouts.  Some folks add a moderate workout, either a
longish run or a pace run.  Then you have the slow recovery jogs on the
easy days.  If you try to add stressful weight workouts on top of that you
will break down the body faster than it can build itself up and will end
up overtrained.  If you do want to experiment with harder weight workouts,
do them in the off season when you do your base running.

12. How should I change my diet if I both run and lift

     Running takes carbohydrates.  Even when you are doing long slow
fat-burning runs fat is only providing a portion of the energy your muscles
need.  The rest comes from glucose.  Do not stop eating the carbohydrates
you need to keep running.  One recommendation for marathoners is to eat
four grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight during the peak
training cycle.  The classic runners diet is:  vast quantities of
carbohydrates, lots of fruits and vegetables, moderate amounts of protein,
and between 20% and 30% of calories from fat.

     Building muscle requires protein.  Many bodybuilders eat as much as
four grams of protein per pound of lean body weight each day.  This is
excessive for most of us.  Eat a little more protein, perhaps add a tuna
salad to your weekly menu or some turkey sausage to your spaghetti sauce.
Most distance runners are eating enough calories to cover for their mileage
that the protein comes along for the ride.  Listen to your body, and go
ahead and add some tuna fish or some chicken breasts or some beans and rice
to your diet if you crave it.  As always, drink lots and lots of water.

13. I am working out to lose weight, why does my scale say I am heavier?

     Your weight only really matters to your knees.  Muscle is much denser
than fat.  It is very common to start running and lifting, lose a large
amount of body fat, add some lean muscle, and see the scale go up and the
clothing sizes go down.  If it were not so easy to measure weight, no one
would use it.  A much better gauge of fitness is a set of calipers used to
measure body fat percentage.  Also many of us have "reference clothing" a
jacket, pair of pants or dress that we have had for a while and that we use
to judge our fitness.  Try this on every week or two and see what happens.
Also look at your belt loops, or take a measuring tape to your waist.  Some
fancy scales claim to measure your body fat through electrical resistance.
They can monitor changes in your fat levels but they are thrown off by
changes in your hydration level.  
      Once you are at your desired level of fitness you can pull out the 
scale again, but now use it not to measure fitness but to watch for the 
sudden weight drops that are a sign of overtraining.  I also find that 
morning weigh ins are useful because they tell me when I need to eat more.  

     Just remember that weight is a secondary indicator of fitness,
and that it carries absolutely NO normative value by itself.  Don't be
surprised if you start lifting to go with your running, your weight stays
stable or increases moderately, and yet people start telling you that you
have lost a lot of weight.  They mean that you are visibly fitter, so smile
and thank them.  The measure on the scale doesn't really matter at that

14. Are seated leg extensions dangerous?

     Some people feel that seated leg extensions are dangerous because the
position at the start of the positive phase of the movement, with your legs
hanging down as you push them forward, places unusual and unbalanced stress
on the knee and especially on the anterior cruciate ligament.  It also
encourages people to twist or turn their legs oddly while they lift.
Runners generally do this exercise in order to work the stabilizer muscles
at the bottom of the thigh.  These are only worked as you approach full
extension (the painful part of the exercise.) I found it useful to place my
hand on the vastus medialus in order to feel it contract at the top of the
movement.  Once I learned what that felt like I could concentrate on
forcing that muscle to work harder during the exercise.

     Always be sure that you line up the knee's axis of rotation with the
machine's pivot point.  Especially if you are moving heavy weights, do not
bring your leg all the way back to 90 degrees, remember to do the movement
slowly and smoothly - no jerking, a Some alternative exercises are:  front
squats, close stance sissy squats.

15. What should sprinters do differently

     All runners want to have balanced legs, preferable with quadriceps
stronger than hamstrings in a ratio of about 3:2.  Endurance runners tend
to have stronger hamstrings than quadriceps.  Sprinters and football
players generally have stronger quadriceps than hamstrings.  I say lift
both sides of the leg as the best way to strengthen the weaker portion.
That means doing squats.  Other good leg exercises for sprinters are:
hamstring curl, Stiff legged dead lift, and leg extension.  Both the SLDL
and the leg extension can be dangerous.

     Sprinters also need strong quads and hip flexors.  Pliometrics and
hills will work both of these.  To make sure you work your hip flexors you
should use situps and hyperextensions rather than crunches to work your
midriff.  Work your abs hard (this is good advice for everyone, not just

     Sprinters need upper body strength not just upper body endurance.
Bench press hits a lot of muscles.  Do it.  Also do some pullups or lat
pulldowns.  You will get more benefit than most runners from doing curls,
preacher curls are the most effective ones.  Don't overdo it on the curls.
RedTed sez that most people, and especially most men, overdo their biceps
work.  Also do some shoulder presses, shoulder raises, and other upper body
work.  I find that strong lats help me power up hills, so a few rows would
be a very good thing if you can fit them into your workout.  Finally a
strong lower back is a very useful thing.  If you add that up it comes to a
complete body workout, with a mild emphasis on the back of the body.

     I am going to guess that sprinters would do well lifting in 3 sets of
8-10 repetitions each with about 45-60 seconds rest between sets.  This is
a routine that is equidistant between the mass-building and the
endurance-building level.  It also will not wipe you out as completely as a
pure strength session (warmup, then 5 sets of 3 very heavy, 5 minutes rest
between sets, split the body up and lift different parts each day, often
chest/triceps, back/biceps, legs.) This way you will be able to put forth
good hard effort on your hills and repeats.

     Stretch.  Stretch some more.  Remember to do moving stretches not just
static ones.  By this I mean that a weekly session of 200 meter intervals,
run smoothly but not too fast, will do a lot to keep you loose.  We all
have stories about the high school sprinter who spent the winter in the
weight room and lost 2-5 seconds off his 200 the following spring.

16. How often should I lift weights

     If you are just starting out you should lift three times a week on
your easy running days.  Do all of your lifts the same day, but be sure not
to spend more than one hour in the gym.  Most people start with 30 minutes.
After a while you may find that you like it or that you want to separate
your workout.  The most common splits are upper body/lower body and pushing
exercises/pulling exercises.  More advanced lifters will work each body
part one time a week.

     If you are training hard on running, reduce your light whole-body
workouts to twice a week.  Only lift once a week or not at all in prime
racing season or the final taper before a marathon.

     Remember that the most important part of a workout is the recovery.
Just as you do not want to run intervals several days in a row you do not
want to alternate hard runs and hard lifts without taking the occasional
day completely off.  A good hard session of lifting can stress the body
more than a tempo run does, especially if you lift heavy with the
whole-body exercises like squat and deadlift.

17. Should I run first or lift first.

     If you are lifting lightly it doesn't really matter which one you do
first.  Try it each way for a week and then do what suits you.

     Here are some common combinations and the logic behind them.

     Generally you do the most important workout first.  If you are lifting
to failure or working close to your limits you should lift before running.
If there is some slack in your lifting then go ahead and run first if that
feels better.

     Which workout to do first is most important for people who are lifting
for about 30 minutes and running for about 30 minutes in the same workout.
Here the first workout can tire you out for the second.  Many people feel
that their run is more important and do it first.  This is a combination
workout that generally goes with an easy run however.  More, a mild change
in your easy run will make a big change in your ability to lift, while a
good hard lift will not change your easy run very much.  I recommend
lifting first in this situation as it makes it easier to know how much
weight to put on the bar.  You can follow your set routine, lift quickly
and effectively, and then jog off the lift.

     Another good combination is to run in the morning and lift at lunch or
before dinner.  Here your run has less effect on your lift.  If you run
before lifting it is a good idea to write down the run in your lifting
notebook.  Then when you wonder why the squats felt so easy this week and
so hard last week you can quickly see what effect your run had.  I
currently am experimenting with a hard run in the morning, lift in the
afternoon, and then an easy recovery day following.

     For a real exercise in pain, lift hard for an hour, stretch, and then
run for an hour (actually it is 20 minutes of pain and 40 minutes that feel
like the end of a long, slow run.).

18. What are some sample beginner workouts

     The idea in all of these is to make the best use of your limited time.
Do the big whole-body lifts first, then do the lifts that work the body
parts that will help your running.  Optional exercises can be done after
the others or can be rotated int

     Competitive runner::  light squats 4 sets of 12; dumbbell bench press,
3 sets of 12; barbell incline press 3 sets of 12; barbell shrugs 3 sets of
12; dumbbell shoulder press 3 sets of 12; abdominals.  Optional exercises:
dumbbell shoulder raise; stiff legged dead lift; preacher curl.

     Defensive lifter:  squats, 4 sets of 12; leg extensions 3 sets of 12;
leg curls 3 sets of 12; calf raises 3 sets of 12; turned-foot leg lifts;
abdominals.  Optional exercises:  anything that works the abductors and
adductors.  Can be done with fitness machines, cable stations, or Jefferson

     Fitness runner:  squats, 4 sets of 12; lat pulldowns (pullups if you
can do them) 3 sets of 12; leg extensions 3 sets of 12; bench press 3 sets
of 12; calf raises 3 sets of 12; shoulder press 3 sets of 12; abdominals.
Optional exercises:  deadlift, dips, dumbbell flies, preacher curl.

     Sprinter::  Squats, 4 sets of 12; Stiff legged dead lifts, 3 sets of
10; Bench press, 3 sets of 10; Pullups/lat pulldowns, 3 sets of 10; Leg
curls, 3 sets of 10.  Also rotate some preacher curls and dumbbell rows
into your workout.  Optional exercises:  shoulder raises, leg extensions if
you have knee trouble.  Don't forget the situps/hyperextensions.

     For all runners consider using lunges and front squats as occasional
variations on squats.

19. How should I do my sets

     You should do them well.  (Sorry) Things to remember.  
A, Do the set with good form.  If your form falters the set has just gone to 
     failure.  Stop or reduce the weight.  
B, Rest only about 30 seconds between sets.  You are lifting for muscular 
      endurance, not to maximize hypertrophy or to recruit the maximum
      number of neuromuscular connections.  
C, Move rapidly from one exercise to the next.  
D, Move the weights slowly and smoothly.  Try to do the eccentric part of the 
      movement (the part where you relax and put the weight down) more slowly 
      than the positive (or concentric) portion.  
E, Do not use a weight belt.  These increase your maximum lift by compressing 
      your abdomen and giving extra support.  They are also a crutch that 
      will leave you with weak abdominals.  Besides, you aren't trying to 
      lift heavy.  (Some people also argue that the belt reminds them of 
      proper back form.  Just feel the right form and you will be OK.)
F, when you do your squats do go down until your legs are bent at at least 
      a 90 degree angle.  Preferably go down until your thighs are roughly 
      parallel to the floor.  
      Runners do not need to take their squats much below parallel.  
G, Do not worry that the gym monsters are lifting larger weights with 
      different routines than you are.  You are developing your strength 
      endurance without messing up your ability to recover from hard runs,
      they are maximizing either growth or one-rep strength.  

20. How often should I change my workout.

     Running follows a cycle of hard-easy.  This applies to days, weeks,
months, and seasons and is based on giving the body a chance to recover
from exertion.  Lifting is also a way of challenging your body and making
it respond.  It follows cycles of 8-12 weeks, at the end of which the body
will stop responding to your current workout.  Common ways to change the
workout are:  give a month or so of shorter sets and heavier weights,
alternate the order of your exercises, change the things you do to work
each body part, alter the tempo or rest intervals.

     In addition many people cycle their training so that they do heavier
and harder lifting during the running off season when they are simply
building base.  Then they cut back on the weight workouts - doing fewer
exercises and lighter weights - during speed work training and prime racing

     Runners are taught that it is a very bad thing to run the same route
each week, timing yourself, and trying to improve your time each and every
week.  This is a recipe for overtraining.  Lifting, by contrast, you want
to do the same exercise for several weeks, and if you do not improve - lift 
more weight, do more repetitions, finish stronger - for two or three 
sessions in a row then it is time to re-arrange your workout and shock your 
system again.

     In addition remember that while you lose running fitness very rapidly
with a layoff your lifting strength, once achieved, will not go away as
fast.  One common power lifter cycle is sets of 8-10 for two months, sets
of 3-5 for a month, sets of 1-3 for a month, competition, 1 week completely
off.  Repeat.  This is a lot like the runners cycle of; base building,
threshold training, speed work, competition, off week.

     The point:  change your workouts every 2-3 months, keep them the same
long enough to see progress.  Cycle your lifting intensity to complement
your running.

21. How should women lift differently

     Women have slightly different biomechanics:  wider hips, shorter
bodies, etc.  Krista Scott has an extensive discussion of technique changes
that women should use at http://www.netrover.com/~cdixon/weights.html

     In addition women have different neuromuscular connections and can
work effectively at a higher proportion of their one repetition maximum.
They should generally lift for 15 repetitions and not the 12 that male
runners lift.  This difference persists at lower repetition counts, and
women should lift 10 instead of 8, 5 instead of 3 and so on.  Finally,
women are more prone to osteoporosis and suffer more from muscle loss as
they age.  They get proportionally much more benefit from lifting,
especially from the big whole body lifts where your body has to brace to
move a lot of weight.  This seems to do the best job of increasing bone
density.  (There is also an amazing sensual thrill to picking up something
heavy and moving it.) 
      Jason Ross  comments that "Axial
compression (loading) is the most important consideration when lifting
weights to combat osteoporosis.  "A squat would axially load the spine and
leg bones whereas a leg extension would place sheer stress on the femur.
Thus the squat is much better an exercise."

22. How should masters runners lift differently.

     One of the things that we lose as we age is balance and supporting
muscle strength.  In addition it takes us longer to recover from injuries
and exertion.

     Free weights, especially dumbbells, require a lot of balance and a lot
of supporting muscle strength.  Once you can use them, however, they
improve your balance and your stabilizers.  In contrast a weight machine
performs the stabilizing function for you - it will not wobble or shift on
you.  However, by locking your motions into the single track used by the
machine it can lead to unbalanced development and further injury.

     Masters runners who are just starting to lift should stick to the
machines until they get comfortable with the general motions and balance
required.  Then they should decide if they feel safer moving to free
weights or sticking with the machines.  Everyone who shifts from
machines to free weights sees their poundages drop.  It is always a good
idea to start using free weights with light weights until you are
comfortable with the motions and balancing required.  Both of these
points are even more important for the Masters runners.

23. What are some other resources for weight training.  
  The misc.fitness.weights FAQ:  http://www.imp.mtu.edu/~babucher/mfwfaq.html 
  the Abs-Faq:  http://www.dstc.edu.au/TU/staff/timbomb/ab/ 
  The stretching Faq: http://www.cs.huji.ac.il/papers/rma/stretching_toc.html
  The misc.fitness.weights FAQ finder:
  Bodybuilding over 40:
      http://fremont.hampshire.edu/~rmuller/faq2.html    He suggests using 
         the Smith machine for learning barbell exercises where this
         FAQ suggests fitness machines, otherwise quite useful.

Web pages:  
  Kicksports www.kicksports.com 
     has some good advice on lifting for runners.  
  Fred Hatfield, aka Dr Squat, feels that squats are the cure for 
     everything but the common cold and has some useful training articles.
  Paul Becker's "Truly Huge - Bodybuilding, Health and Fitness" is one of 
     the better commercial sites.   http://www.trulyhuge.com


      _Better Training for Distance Runners_ by Martin and Coe has a
            section on weight training for distance runners.  
      _Run Fast_ by Hal Higdon has a good section on drills and some good lifting advice.

Return to Nutrition and Weightlifting Page