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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 saw an article in Men’s Journal that quoted Jon in about 2018 while traveling and was impressed that someone in St. John’s made that international magazine.  Jon spoke about an exercise called the Farmer’s Walk and I started working that into my routine at the YMCA. I tore that article out of the magazine and kept it, meaning to make contact, but got busy. Then I had lunch with an old friend Bruce Dyke. I hadn’t seen Bruce for a while and I remarked that he looked super healthy and fit. He told me about his, and his son Cas’, experience at JKC and then I remembered the Men’s Journal article! No coincidences!

The experience is unique on many levels – great people, camaraderie, passion, purpose, and dedication. Jon and Thomas are attentive, precise and understanding.  Their teaching has unlocked a new perspective for me with what our bodies are capable of. I still appreciate the YMCA, wonderful place, but I can’t imagine working out without Jon and Thomas now.

cas dyke

I started training at JKC in 2016 because I had built up a number of muscle imbalances from old injuries and activities like rock climbing which had led to some really bad posture and mobility issues. On top of that some friends had convinced me to sign up for a half-ironman. Working with Jon and Thomas was a way to pull my body back into alignment and make sure it wouldn’t fall apart during my race. The staff at JKC pride themselves on continuously advancing their knowledge, which leads to new and inventive way to address problems, old and new. I got my Dad to start training here and recommended JKC to all looking to improve their strength and fitness.

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.

log overhead press

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!

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