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I came across a great article (Taipale et al. (2010). Strength training in endurance runners. Int J Sports Med, 31(7), 468-76. Epub Apr 29.) on combining strength training and endurance running.

Runners are usually hesitant to step foot in the gym because they believe only running will make them a better runner.

For those that DO step in to the gym, the exercise selection and program consists of machines and circuit training…makes sense right?  Circuit training with high reps should help with the endurance needed to run a fast 1okm, shouldn’t it?  Not quite…

This study examined effects of periodized maximal versus explosive strength training and reduced strength training, combined with endurance training, on neuromuscular and endurance performance.

Quick notes on this study:

  • This study looked at recreational endurance runners
  • Subjects first completed 6 weeks of preparatory strength training.
  • Groups were created with a different program design (8 weeks of training) and exercise focus: maximal strength (MAX, n=11), explosive strength (EXP, n=10) and circuit training (C, n=7)
  • Following, was 14 weeks of reduced strength training.  I believe the study included this phase to simulate the tapper during the racing season.

The study measured:

  • Maximal strength (1RM)
  • EMG of leg extensors
  • Countermovement jump (CMJ),
  • Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max)
  • Velocity at VO2 max
  • Running economy (RE)
  • Basal serum hormones

The study found improvements in maximum strength and countermovement jump (p<0.05) in all groups – also increased EMG in MAX (maximum strength group) and EXP (explosive strength group) (p<0.05) during strength training.

Minor changes occurred in VO2 max, but velocity at VO2 max improved in all groups (p<0.05) and running economy in EXP (explosive training group) (p<0.05).

During reduced strength training maximum strength and EMG activity decreased in the maximum training group (p<0.05) while the velocity at VO2 max in MAX (maximum training group) and EXP (explosive training group) (p<0.05) and running economy in MAX (maximum training group) (p<0.01) all improved.

They found serum testosterone and cortisol levels unaltered.

I’ll quote the article because they sum it up best:

“Maximal or explosive strength training performed concurrently with endurance training was more effective in improving strength and neuromuscular performance and in enhancing the velocity at VO2 max and running economy in recreational endurance runners than concurrent circuit and endurance training.”

What does this mean for you?

 
1.  Circuit training is not effective strength training for a recreational endurance runner.  I am going to speculate with much certainty that this approach doesn’t bode well for a trained endurance runner either.

2.  Strength train with heavy sets of 5 or less with long breaks – 3-4 minutes between sets.

3.  Lift heavy at the right time of year – don’t ruin your legs during racing season.

4.  Explosive strength training AKA plyometric training should form a major component of your strength and conditioning program.  It has been shown to improve running economy and racing performance via multiple physiological mechanisms.

Thanks for reading,

-JK

photo credit: sashamd via photopin cc

I’ve always been a gym rat, but was getting tired of the same ol’ routine. My better half was attending JKC and encouraged me to try it out. My favourite part of JKC is that is isn’t a gym – it’s a community. Jon and Thomas are awesome, and I love that every time I go I know who’s working out with me and we can socialize while working on our health. Everyone is supportive, encouraging and genuinely looks out for one another. It’s an upbeat and positive experience and I can honestly say that I look forward to each and every workout.

I started at JKC in January of 2014 and I’m 67 years old. When I had my Initial Assessment, I knew – almost immediately – that Jon knew what he was doing and what he was talking about. I was overweight, out of shape, and in serious need of someone, like Jon, who could get me back on a fitness/conditioning routine that suited me, my age, my less than acceptable physical condition, my sometimes intermittent RA, and my need for a structured, consistent and yet flexible training and conditioning program that would work for me.

Fundamentally, if I made a choice at all with respect to JKC – it was to continue to come back each week. I have not been in a lot of gyms. To be honest, they used to intimidate me. What makes JKC different is their approach to each and every one of their clients. Jon and Thomas – and now Craig – tailor each training regime to the particular needs of each client. That ensures that the training regime will suit each client upon the start of training and changes as the client improves. It adjusts for any physical setbacks such as injuries and it adjusts for success. It is just that simple.

It is also the consistent encouragement that comes from Jon, Thomas and Craig. That voice that comes to you while you are in the middle of a particularly difficult set – rear-foot elevated split squats comes to mind immediately – that says “good job” or “keep it up” or “just a couple more reps.” To know, in that moment, that you are not alone and the trainer is paying attention to what you are doing. That is priceless for me.

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I had tried JKC based on the recommendation of a parent of one of my students. I originally started by attending Saturday drop in classes. I was hooked. I decided to join full time when I I had taken a year off from teaching and it was the best thing I have done for myself.

First and foremost the trainers at JKC are extremely knowledgeable. I feel like they are as dedicated to my success as I am. The workouts are tailored to me, my skills and my goals. This is important. Jon and Thomas truly want the best for their clients no matter what level of fitness they are starting from. I also like being able to book a session at a time that suits my schedule. This also helps keep me accountable. Once the session is booked I am not likely to cancel!

I had signed up for other gyms in the past and never went or rarely went. Something always got in the way or I was just too tired and lacked motivation to go. This way I’ve made a commitment to Jon or Thomas and I try very hard to keep my sessions once I’ve booked in. JKC is different from other gyms that I’ve tried in the past because no one is there to be “seen”. We are all there to get a good workout in and go on with our lives. And it’s a small gym so you get to know everyone and it’s like a big family. When I joined JKC, I couldn’t do a chin up with an elastic band, but I’ve slowly worked up to 10 free hanging chin ups. That was big because I hate chin ups.

My initial goal was to find qualified personal training services in a personalized small gym setting. I have never been a fan of large gyms. JKC offers a friendly, happy gym experience that motivates me to strive for bigger and better results every week. Jon, Thomas and Craig are genuinely talented and always excited to celebrate everyone’s success.

I have a passion for challenging myself to achieve or beat goals. My favourite memories take me back to greater wins than I ever imagined with deadlifts and after a lot of determination and hard work, being able to do multiple chin-ups. Training at JKC has been one of the best experiences of my life – thank you for your commitment to helping me stay fit!!💪🏼😅

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