Running is a lot of work – every muscle in the body is involved in the sport. When you’re not on the track, there are several exercises you can do to keep building the much-needed strength for running.
Contrary to the belief that strength training makes runners bulky and slow, runners benefit a lot from strength training. Strength training is useful for strengthening the muscles and helps to prevent injury while running. It also boosts your speed and improves your coordination and stride efficiency.
The different types of races you engage in also determine what your body requirements are. Short distance runners can pack muscles while long-distance runners and marathoners need to maintain a slightly more slender build.
Here are five strength training equipment that you can benefit from as a runner.
The treadmill is widely known and used strength training equipment for runners at all levels. It offers all the benefits of running outdoors with a few other advantages.
If you are going to use the treadmill to become a better runner, burn fat, and become stronger, it is important that you have a balanced and comprehensive plan that is not just effective, but also safe and sustainable.
It could be tempting to go as fast as you can but if this is all you do, you will burn out, or worse, deal with avoidable injuries, aches, and pains.
The treadmill offers the following advantages over running outdoors;
- Time efficiency: Running outdoors can be challenging, unpredictable and difficult to plan. On the treadmill, however, you will do more work, in less time, and see much faster results.
- Less joint impact: Hard surfaces such as streets and sidewalks do little to minimise the impact on joints. The treadmill creates a shock-absorbing environment for the joints.
- Less environmental stress: Sun damage and exposure to pollutants are some of the downsides of running outdoors. People with breathing problems such as asthma benefit from running indoors on a treadmill.
The elliptical is often underestimated but it’s one of the best machines out there for runners. It totally mimics the movement of running when it comes to stride, motion, and leg muscle engagement.
The elliptical is an ideal equipment for cross-training or recovery after an injury.
The elliptical offers the following advantages;
- Flexibility of movement: Since you can pedal forward and backwards, there’s a lot of room for leg muscle engagement. Pedalling forward targets your biceps femoris, quads, and anterior tibialis while pedalling backwards targets your rectus femoris, calves, glutes, and hamstrings.
- Improves running posture: The elliptical works the lower body. Not only that, but it also strengthens the core and upper body. Training on the elliptical can strengthen key muscles and improves overall posture.
- No impact: There is virtually no impact or collision with a hard surface as your feet stay on the pedals. This experience keeps your legs unscathed and builds the muscles around your ankles.
The stationary bike is a strength training equipment which targets the hamstrings, glutes, calves, shin muscles, quads, and hip flexors. You also work your abdominal muscles when you stay upright and maintain a good form on the bike.
This strength training equipment offers the following advantages;
- Flexibility: The stationary bike allows for interval training of short intense training and longer intervals of less intense exercise. It also allows you to vary the resistance levels of your exercise ranging from low to high intensity.
- Strengthens the lower body and legs: Using high resistance on the stationary bike helps to strengthen the legs and lower body. The pedalling works the hamstrings, calves and quadriceps. It also works the muscles in the core, back and glutes
- Boosts cardio fitness: Working on the stationary bike is a good way to get your heart pumping. This helps to strengthen the heart, lungs and muscles. It also helps to circulate blood around the body.
This strength training equipment is mainly used as an introductory exercise regime for runners who want to run short distances. The exercises done on the machine leg press helps to build strength in the quadriceps and gluteus maximus.
The leg press offers the following benefits;
- Targets different muscles in the lower body: By varying your foot position on the plate, you can emphasize different muscle groups. It also helps to correct the imbalance of strength in the hamstrings and quadriceps.
- Good for cross-training: Due to the limited range of motion it allows, the leg press is good for beginners and those recovering from an injury. It allows for a safe movement pattern before advancing to more challenging exercises.
- Helps to build strong bones: Like every other weight-bearing exercise, the leg press helps to build strength in the bones. The bones grow and develop in response to the increased pressure placed on it.
Incline barbell press
This upper body strength training equipment targets the shoulder, chest and triceps. It also works the biceps and rectus abdominis.
The incline barbell press offers the following benefits;
- Stronger upper body: The muscles of the chest get fatigued by exercise in the same way as all other muscles. Fortunately, it is easy to develop these muscles through a simple exercise such as the barbell press.
- Better posture when running: With stronger abdominal and pectoral muscles, a distance runner maintains better posture in the latter stages of a race or training run.
- Protects the back: The incline barbell press develops the shoulders and upper back muscles. Keeping your arms at about the same level as your shoulders while squeezing your shoulder blades together helps you get the most out of your workout while protecting your back.
When using the strength training equipment listed above, it is important to take precautions so as to minimize the risk of injury. It’s also advisable to start with a low-intensity workout before increasing the speed of your exercises.
Since these strength training equipment does not require going outdoors, you benefit from training with minimal distraction and hazard.
Jude Uchella is the founder and editor of Health Makes You, a research-driven health blog. He is committed to helping people live a healthier and happier life, one article at a time.