Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Strength Training Improves Running Economy and Performance

February 9, 2016


This week we posted on the benefits of strength training on cycling performance.  Specifically, how strength training improves our body’s use of resources including oxygen and fuel to power us through our endurance workouts.  The more economical or efficient endurance athlete will be able to sustain a higher speed for a longer period of time than a less economical runner.  Research conducted in trained runners also shows the benefits of incorporating strength training along with endurance training. 

Authors conducted a review of the existing literature on the effects of strength training in trained runners (Balsalobre-Fernandez et al. J Strength Cond Res. 2016).  Subjects in this review were all well trained middle and long distance runners with VO2 max values >60 ml/kg.  A total of 5 randomized controlled trials were included in the review.  Participants used strength training 2-3 days per week for 8-12 weeks in addition to their endurance training.  Athletes trained at a 3:1 endurance to strength training ratio.   A large, beneficial effect was seen on running economy among athletes who performed both strength training and plyometric exercises.   

Runners are encouraged to work with a local, Physical Therapist to develop a strength training program of 2-4 exercises, 3 days per week, to complement their current endurance training programs.