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Strength training has been increasingly added to athletes and runners’ training programs recently.
Specifically, in the last couple of years, athletes are noticing better running times and improved performance, as well as feeling better during their activities which the attribute to the integration of strength training into their routine. Strength training is also important for beginners and amateurs too because it builds muscle and sculpts as well as burns more calories, it’s also called strength training for a reason! For those who are looking for a long-term solution to injury prevention, strength training is important. Here’s some more about it.
What is strength training?
Is basically muscle building (for lack of a better way of putting it). This is done by either repeatedly performing exercises with weights (e.g deadlifts, bicep curls) or performing exercising using your own body weight as resistance (e.g squats, lunges, plank, press-ups). In a lot of instances, these can be combined for more advanced training (E.g weighted squats, weighted lunges)
What are the benefits?
- Increases strength – for example in running doing squats will strengthen quads, glutes and hips which improves efficiency, speed and leg turnover.
- Reduces injury risk – in the case of netball (which is a high impact sport) strengthening muscles can reduce degradation of joints due to impact.
- Fat burning – fundamentally muscles burn more calories – they have to maintain themselves. it’s a well know fact that cardio burns fat today and strength training burns fat tomorrow. Studies show that those who strength train as part of a routine are more likely to keep weight off than those who don’t
It takes a lot to “bulk up” a lot of people are concerned that they will end up being “too big” but I can assure you that it’s not an accident that people with big muscles have big muscles, they work hard (too hard for me) and they are very strict with their diets! it is very very unlikely that adding a few weights to your routine will turn you into the hulk. You will gain some definition but that will depend on the weight sizes you use, the reps and the frequency (among other factors) that you add strength training.
It is worth a mention that health and safety- wise you should lift weights with proper form and not to use weights above your limit. Since I don’t increase my weight sizes, I use 1 – 2kg dumbells for dynamic (moving) strength moves and 4 – 6kg dumbells for static moves but I have built up to this. I also use a weighted hula hoop and used this Livestrong guide on what size weights you should use for beginner female lifters to give me a good starting point. Net Doctor also has a beginners guide to weight training which helped me to stay say in the early stages and both are reputable sources. Be wary online of form because weight training without proper form is a fast-track to injury.
Weights can also be incorporated into running programs to add variation e.g. ankle, wrist weights or a weighted backpack are to strengthen running specific muscles or in hill training. Be wary about doing this however because it increases the impact on the lower joints whilst running so some training needs to be done before this is incorporated and you should definitely build up.