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Why You Should Read This Article
Traditionally, strength training has been thought to increase fat-free mass and reduce running performance. This article, Improving Running Economy Through Strength Training, first published 18 years ago, provides support and rationale for the implementation of strength training to improve endurance performance.
Strength training may provide a number of benefits to endurance athletes, but as the article highlights, the primary benefit of strength training on running is running economy—defined as the steady-state oxygen consumption (ml*kg*min) for a standardized running speed. Improved running economy (or efficiency) allows a faster running pace at the same distance, or run longer at the same running pace, due to a decrease in required oxygen consumption (energy demand). This article provides background information and highlights a 10-week study. The results of this study showed the relative oxygen uptake of the strength group decreased 4% (significant) at running paces of 6:30/mile, 7:00/mile, and 7:30/mile, equally. There were no significant changes in max aerobic capacity, blood lactate accumulation, body mass, or body fat % in either of the groups (strength/control). One of the possible explanations for the improved running economy is enhanced mechanical efficiency and motor unit recruitment patterns. Another possible explanation could be a resulting change in running mechanics, allowing less energy expenditure a submaximal running pace. As personal trainers, we often have to dispel fitness “myths” and provide easy-to-understand rationale to our clients; this article provides that rationale. This article can be applied to your clients who are recreational endurance athletes; in particular, those with limited training time that need to choose their workouts as efficiently as possible.
Strength & Conditioning: August 1995 - Volume 17 - Issue 4 - pg 7-13Improving Running Economy Through Strength TrainingJohnston, Ronald E. MS; Quinn, Timothy J. PhD; Kertzer, Robert PhD; Vroman, Neil B. PhD
Read the Article (PDF)