The Effect of High Intensity Resistance Training on Running Economy

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The research on the benefits of high intensity strength training for endurance runners is becoming overwhelming. If you’re an endurance runner and not doing some form of high intensity lifting you might not be running as efficiently as you could be. High intensity resistance training (and to a lesser extent plyometrics) seems to have a profound impact on running economy. With improved running economy you can run at the same speed and consume less oxygen. Or perhaps more importantly, you can run faster with the same oxygen consumption. Research shows this may have as much as an 8% impact on racing performance. Here’s some slides from a recent presentation I gave at a USA Triathlon CEU seminar where I spoke about the impact that high intensity resistance training can have on running (and to a lesser extent cycling and swimming) performance and following the slides is one of the most recent abstracts on the subject.

Strength Training in Endurance Runners.
Int J Sports Med. 2010 Apr 29.
Taipale RS, Mikkola J, Nummela A, Vesterinen V, Capostagno B, Walker S, Gitonga D, Kraemer WJ, Häkkinen K..

Abstract.
This study examined effects of periodized maximal versus explosive strength training and reduced strength training, combined with endurance training, on neuromuscular and endurance performance in recreational endurance runners. Subjects first completed 6 weeks of preparatory strength training. Then, groups of maximal strength (MAX, n=11), explosive strength (EXP, n=10) and circuit training (C, n=7) completed an 8-week strength training intervention, followed by 14 weeks of reduced strength training. Maximal strength (1RM) and muscle activation (EMG) of leg extensors, countermovement jump (CMJ), maximal oxygen uptake (VO (2MAX)), velocity at VO (2MAX) (vVO (2MAX)) running economy (RE) and basal serum hormones were measured. 1RM and CMJ improved (p<0.05) in all groups accompanied by increased EMG in MAX and EXP (p<0.05) during strength training. Minor changes occurred in VO (2MAX), but vVO (2MAX) improved in all groups (p<0.05) and RE in EXP (p<0.05). During reduced strength training 1RM and EMG decreased in MAX (p<0.05) while vVO (2MAX) in MAX and EXP (p<0.05) and RE in MAX (p<0.01) improved. Serum testosterone and cortisol remained unaltered. Maximal or explosive strength training performed concurrently with endurance training was more effective in improving strength and neuromuscular performance and in enhancing vVO (2MAX) and RE in recreational endurance runners than concurrent circuit and endurance training. © Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.

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