PURPOSE: The purpose of cross-training is to support the sport(s) you are most actively involved in, and help reduce the risk of injury. Cross-training for middle distance and distance runners should fatigue the muscles endurance capacity, rather than their strength capacity. With each set, you should aim to achieve a minimum of 12 body weight repetitions, and a maximum of 25. Ideally, 2 sets of 15 is a great place to begin within any exercise. Once you can comfortably perform 15 repetitions without a rest while using only the weight of your body, you may add an external device (kettlebell, barbell, dumbbell, etc.), being sure to reach at least 12 repetitions per set. If you add resistance and you have trouble reaching 10 reps, lower the weight and try again.
SPECIFICITY: The purpose of cross-training to increase your all-around athleticism. The list of resistance (weight training) activities below are intended to create stronger muscles that can withstand the overall workload runners place on their bodies. Stronger muscles produce greater power (arms and legs), resist fatigue (arms, legs, and core), and promote better posture (upper body).
DESIGNING A RESISTANCE TRAINING PLAN: Whether it’s been a year since the last time you performed any resistance training, or a week, the safest to begin strength work is at the foundation of the human body – the prime movers of the lower body. Deadlift and Squat varieties are perfect for strengthening the gluteals, hamstrings, quadriceps, lower leg, ankles, and feet. Be sure to start with the Basic Squat and Basic Deadlift videos before advancing to more complex movements, ensuring correct loading of the prime movers (glutes and legs) and excellent posture of the upper body. The second most important muscle groups to work are the large muscles in the upper back. They’re large muscles that promote good posture. Chest exercises are an easy go-to, as well as core, and exercises for these groups are shown below. Shoulder muscles will be worked from the combination of lower body exercises and back exercises, so any additional shoulder work is likely not necessary. In short, prioritize your plan by the following muscle groups: glutes and lower body, back, core, chest, shoulders, and arms. Of course, linking these muscles through multi-joint exercises like the Clean & Jerk or Snatch would be great, but when learning a new skill, it’s important to have a certified trainer by your side to provide proper cues. The videos below are in place for beginner and intermediate runners, and are foundational exercises for advanced runners.
Final note for designing a resistance training plan – push and pull exercises. 1% of the population needs to perform chest (push) exercises, leaving the rest of the population, the remaining 99%, in need of upper back (pull) and rear shoulder (pull) exercises. Posture matters whether you’re on a run, in a race, or performing a presentation to your class. Back (pull) resistance training exercises enhance and promote natural posture and are twice as important as chest (push) exercises. Therefore, perform push-pull exercises at a 2:3 ratio (boys) and 2:4 ratio (girls). This means two sets of 15 repetitions (2×15) of a push exercise (push-ups, bench press) totaling 30 repetitions, and two exercises of 1-2×15 of pull exercises for the upper back (seated rows, dumbbell rows, band rows) totaling 45 (boys) to 60 repetitions (girls).
When you feel it is safe to do so, perform exercises bare foot. Doing so turns on the stabilizers of the feet and ankles, and all the way up the kinetic chain. Barefoot work is one of the best ways to prevent running-related injuries. Some people fear dropping the weight on their feet, which is valid, but in the examples provided, the weights are held between the knees or on the outside of the feet. Weights should never be held directly above the feet – it’s a recipe for disaster and often the result of improper lifting mechanics. Aim to perform the exercises with mindfulness, proper form, and low to moderate resistance. Also, be extra cautious when working with weights, to ensure proper form instead of heavy lifting.