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Weight Training for Runners

Good for toning and building muscle, weight training is not just for body-builders. Many people striving to improve or maintain fitness include some weight training in their routines. But how does lifting affect running? Long-distance runners are often thought of as thin, and prevalent is the idea that less weight leads to faster marathons. But a planned weight-lifting routine can help an athlete run better, faster and stronger.

A runner who lifts weights as part of their training won't need as much oxygen-- meaning less gasping for air. In addition, increased muscle translates to more force and more speed. Weight training also strengthens the athlete's core. A strong core and greater muscle strength is advantageous for runners because it lessens the risk of injury and strain by minimizing stress on connective tissues.

Because runners don't use any one muscle in isolation, their weight training program should not train any one muscle in isolation. Instead, athletes should choose exercises that train several muscles at once and combine two movements. For example, add a lunge in conjunction with each bicep curl. While overall strength can help runners, they should focus more on their core, hamstrings and back. A good lifting program comprises a mix of exercises done with low weight in high-repetition, as well as low repetition with more weight. In order to maximize the benefits of weight training, runners should plan a lifting program, just as they plan a running routine.

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