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Nowadays most runners know that including strength training in their program is likely to improve their performance. However, most runners aren’t actually doing any strength training, and those that are may not be seeing the benefits they hoped for. In order to help runners optimize their strength training, I invited Rich Blagrove, author of the book Strength and Conditioning for Endurance Running, to join me on the show today.
I asked my listeners to submit their questions for Rich. Most of the questions revolved around the practicalities of including strength training in an already busy schedule. To help with this I have created a strength training plan based on the advice Rich provided in this episode. You can download the plan here.
Download your free Annual Strength Training Plan for Runners pdf
Rich Blagrove, PhD is a Physiology Lecturer at Loughborough University, where he also heads up the Master’s programme for Strength and Conditioning. He is an active researcher and lead author of influential papers looking at strength training and endurance performance including, Strength and Conditioning for Adolescent Endurance Runners (2020) and Effects of Strength Training on the Physiological Determinants of Middle- and Long-Distance Running Performance: A Systematic Review (2018).
In 2015, Rich published the book Strength and Conditioning for Endurance Running and followed that up in 2021 with the book The Science and Practice of Middle and Long Distance Running.
Connect with Rich Blagrove
Discussed in the Show
- Rich’s books
- Rich’s paper
- Other podcast episodes with Rich
- Strength training 4: Exercises & program planning for runners with Richard Blagrove with Run Smarter
- Strength training for endurance performance with Richard Blagrove, PhD with Scientific Triathlon
- The Physical Performance Show: Rich Blagrove – Strength & Conditioning Coach, PhD Exercise Physiology, Author (Expert Edition) with The Physical Performance Show
- Strength and Conditioning for Endurance Runners with Rich Blagrove with The Endure Stronger Podcast
Click the link to jump to that question in the video…
09:01 How many days a week should runners do strength training?
12:44 How should runners do strength training in the off-season?
17:15 What are the best exercises for runners?
21:10 Should runners do core strengthening exercises?
32:34 How many reps and sets for runners strengthening exercises?
37:11 How heavy should runners be lifting?
40:04 When should Runners do Plyometric exercises?
43:38 How should runners periodize strength training?
In this episode, Richard Blagrove, a Researcher at The University of Loughborough, shared his insights on the importance of strength training for runners. He also discussed the exercises he recommends to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
The Importance of Strength Training for Runners
Blagrove believes that runners need to focus on both cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength. He recommends five exercises to strengthen their bodies, including squats, hip hinge movements, stepping movements, lunge derivatives or patterns, and calf and Achilles loading.
During the interview, Blagrove also discussed the trend of runners incorporating strength training into their programs, even among recreational and grassroots runners. He suggested that even shorter strength training sessions spread throughout the training week can be beneficial.
Periodize your Strength Training
Blagrove emphasized the importance of periodization and volume. He suggests that maintaining strength training volume during the peak period and reducing it during the tapering phase before a major race or event can help prevent injury.
Blagrove also stressed the importance of maintaining gains made during strength training interventions, recommending doing a small amount of maintenance work, such as one training session per week.
The Top Strength Exercises for Runners
Blagrove recommends that runners focus on multi-joint compound exercises using free weights, which are more effective than machine-based exercises. He recommends that runners avoid relying solely on low-intensity training sessions. Instead, they should focus on lifting heavy.
Rich discussed high-rep muscular endurance training versus lower-rep strength power training. He recommends heavier loads for improving running economy and neuromuscular qualities, which are important for endurance performance.
Rich recommends using a rating of perceived exertion scale to determine the appropriate weight for strength training. He wants us to aim for 8-9 out of 10 for perceived effort. However, he also emphasized the importance of building movement competency and gradually increasing volume and intensity of plyometric exercises.
In conclusion, Blagrove shared valuable insights on the benefits of strength training for runners and the exercises he recommends to reduce the risk of injury and improve performance. By focusing on multi-joint compound exercises using free weights, incorporating core strength exercises, and avoiding excessive fatigue and stress, runners can enhance their overall strength and performance.