Starting a strength training program can seem overwhelming. Let's look at the basics of strength training and help you get started.

Stephanieruns Fitness

September 30, 2018 Newsletter

Strength Training Basics

If you've been following me for a while you're well aware I'm a huge believer in strength training for runners. Strength training will make you a stronger, faster, more efficient runner. The more I talk about strength training the more I've come to realize that the reason some runners haven't started a strength training program is because they aren't sure what exercises to do. Strength training can be completely overwhelming but remember when you first started running longer distances seemed crazy. Today I want to talk about strength training basics. Hopefully I can help make strength training less overwhelming for you.

When we are talking about strength training for runners we need to be realistic. When you're training for a race you'll have runs and mileage you need to complete. I do however think it's realistic to plan for one to two strength training workouts a week. If you're doing one workout I'd recommend full body. If you're able to get in two workouts you can split your workout up. You could do one workout for upper body and one for your lower body. It's important to note that while you generally shouldn't do two hard runs in a row strength training and running use different muscular systems so you are okay to do strength training the day after a hard run.

When I'm designing a strength training program I want to make sure that there are exercises that work opposing muscle groups. Opposing muscles are muscles that work together to assist with moving your body. For example your biceps and triceps work together so only strengthening your bicep and not your tricep would cause an imbalance on your arm. Another example would be to think of someone who has just strengthened their chest and not their back. If they over build their chest the imbalance would show in their posture. Some people like to think of opposing muscle groups in terms of push/pull exercises. Balancing your muscles will also help reduce your risk of injury.

Here are some of your opposing muscle groups of think of when you're strength training.

- bicep/tricep

- shoulder and upper back

- upper chest and upper back

- stomach and lower back

- hips and glutes 

- quads/hamstrings

- calf and shin

Now I'm fully aware that time is limited and I strongly believe that we run to add value to our lives. This means your strength training program might not cover everything and that's not the end of the world! You can design your strength training program to compliment your running program and work on your weaknesses. You can also review and change up your strength training program every six to eight weeks and make changes as required.

I also often get asked about number of repetitions and what weight should be used when strength training. The answer to this question, like so many others is it depends. When you're just starting out I'd aim for 10-12 reps and I'd use weights that fatigue your muscles by the last rep but still let you complete your reps in good form. If you can't complete the exercises in good form you either need a lighter weight of you need to scale back the difficulty of the exercise.

Strength training will help improve your running. If you're on the fence about starting, go for it! Start small and build. You'll be happy when you see the results!

Weekly Challenge: Strength Training

This week you're getting another strength training challenge. This one will highlight opposing muscle groups of the shoulders, upper chest, and upper back. Your torso helps support your running form. As you muscles fatigue so will your running form, meaning it's important to build strength and muscular endurance to help you get to the finish line in good form.

Warm up: dynamic warm up. 5 minutes of step ups, lateral shuffles, arm swings/circles, ect.

Main Set: 2 - 3 sets of 10 - 12 reps, give yourself 2-3 minutes between sets. Use weights that will fatigue your muscles but allow you to do 12 reps in good form.

1) Upright Row

2) Chest Press

3) Shoulder Press

4) Dumbbell Fly

5) Reverse Dumbbelll fly

Cool down: yoga poses, stretching and foam rolling. Give yourself at least 5 minutes for a solid cool down.

As always I love to hear how this goes! Send me a tweet or an e-mail after you complete this workout and let me know what you thought!

Fitting in Strength Training

I know it can be tough to fit in strength training into your busy schedule. I do however know it's worth it to fit it in. If you're not doing any strength training one way you can get started is by adding in two to three strength training exercises at the end of an easy run. This way you can start the habit of getting strength training exercises in while maintaining your running schedule.

You could do these pairs of exercises after your easy run:

- bicep curl and tricep kick backs

- single leg deadlifts and squats

- upright rows and chest press

- plank and back extension 

You can start small with 6-8 repetitions and 2 sets and build to 10-12 repetitions and three sets. You can start with body weight. As you continue to do the exercises you'll be able to add weight, and than even more weight!

As you start to see how strength training improves your running I'm positive you'll dedicate a full workout to strength training. Until then start small, and build!

This year I'm offering a fall/winter coaching program where I'll work with you virtually from November 4th, 2018 to February 2, 2019 to help you with your training and help you reach new goals.

You'll get customized running and strength training workouts as well as access to me. I'll share my knowledge and encouragement to help you reach your goals. You'll receive your running and strength training workouts delivered to your Training Peak's account. The cost is $450 for my newsletter subscribers. E-mail me at for more details or to sign up.

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Let's keep the conversation going all week on social media! 


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Stephanieruns Fitness

461 North Service Rd West
Oakville Ontario,  L6M 2V5 - Canada

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Disclaimer: Always seek medical advice before starting an exercise program. This newsletter is not medical advice. Medical advice should be sought from a medical professional. Stephanieruns Fitness assumes no liability for any injuries or damages as a result of the above content.