Running Myths Part 1: Strength Training Should be Low-Load, High-Rep

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Strength Training Should be Low-Load, High-Rep to Mimic Running

This series focuses on a number of myths we often hear at Sycamore Health relating to physiotherapy and exercise. Our goal is not that you become discouraged from exercising, but rather that you train safely, effectively and often!

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to heavy strength training and running. We know there’s strong evidence that resistance training has a myriad of health benefits and reduces the risk of overuse injury in athletes by approximately 50% (2). Despite strong evidence of strength trainings utility for runners, many simply avoid lifting heavy things and instead just run more! 

"Jumping into heavy resistance training without proper preparation can cause injury."

This misconception seems to make sense, but upon closer examination it falls flat. The belief that light-weight, high-repetition training improves running performance is simply not supported by the research – it doesn’t improve endurance running performance (3).

Instead, it seems that the opposite is true!

One should incorporate slow, heavy resistance training as this seems to best improve tendon stiffness, which improves running economy and performance, and reduces your chance of injury. Low weight, high repetition training doesn’t significantly increase tendon stiffness at all. (1)

So, should runners simply launch into a heavy resistance training cycle to improve their performance? Well, no.

Jumping into heavy resistance training, without proper preparation, can cause injury. An endurance athlete should complete a short preparatory cycle of moderate resistance training before moving to very heavy weights!

If you’re unsure where to start or how to maximise your running performance, contact us. Physiotherapists are specialists in exercise and would love to help you take control of your health. We can even address any underlying or lingering injuries or pain you may have.

Next up in this series: Running Myths Part 2 - Strength Training Will Make Me Slower

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1. Bohm, S., Mersmann, F., & Arampatzis, A. (2015). Human tendon adaptation in response to mechanical loading: a systematic review and meta-analysis of exercise intervention studies on healthy adults. Sports Medicine - Open, 1(1), 7. doi: 10.1186/s40798-015-0009-9
2. Lauersen, J. B., Bertelsen, D. M., & Andersen, L. B. (2014). The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(11), 871.
3. Mikkola, J., Vesterinen, V., Taipale, R., Capostagno, B., Hakkinen, K., & Nummela, A. (2011). Effect of resistance training regimens on treadmill running and neuromuscular performance in recreational endurance runners. J Sports Sci, 29(13), 1359-1371. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2011.589467

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