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Strength Training for Women Runners

by Kristin Davis

About Kristin Davis

Kristin Davis has been writing since 2004, specializing in the health and fitness fields. She has written for online and print publications including Fitness Monthly and Creative Circle. Davis has certification through the International Fitness Professionals Association as a personal trainer.

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Strength training enhances performance while decreasing the chances of injury, making it an essential part of a female runner's training program. Although it is generally a good idea for all runners to do some sort of strength training, women have biomechanical differences that require the need for improved leg strength. According to the Rome Athletic Club, a woman's strength training program is more effective if it is performed prior to beginning her running exercises.

Benefits

Weight training greatly improves the strength of a female runner. This provides you with a base that is better-equipped, in terms of both injury prevention and performance. According to a 1997 research study performed at the University of New Hampshire, strength training allows a woman to run longer or do more without working any harder. The Rome Athletic Club also states that performing a strength training routine will increase leg power and speed while preventing injuries for runners.

Program

If you are performing a strength training program for running, it should cover three separate areas of emphasis, according to the Rome Athletic Club. First, you should be performing general strength exercises in order to form a solid base. These exercises should be performed twice a week for three weeks. After the initial three weeks, you should then perform a training that is more running-specific for a period of two weeks. These workouts should include explosive exercises that will improve your power and strength. The final period, which is also two weeks long, should focus only on specific running movements. These should include explosive and plyometric exercises, such as jumping in place and performing box jumps.

Muscles

As a female runner, you should not just focus your strength training on your lower body, according to Humankinetics.com. Instead, you should include your entire body in your strength training program. Along with the muscles in your legs, you should work to strengthen your neck muscles, core and upper body. It takes strength in each area of the body for injury-free and efficient running. The neck muscles, core and upper body will aid in keeping you in an appropriate posture when running. Although you should strengthen muscles throughout your body, your main focus should be strengthening your legs. According to the Peak Performance website, women are at an increased risk for developing anterior cruciate ligament damage in their knees.

Exercises

When you are performing strength training for running, you should perform exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups or other exercises that use your natural body weight as resistance. Some common leg exercises that are preformed by runners include calf raises, lunges and squats. Along with the pull-ups and push-ups, overhead presses and rows help work the upper body. Exercises for the lower back, like bridges and the superman, as well as abdominal exercise, like front planks and crunches, should also be performed.

Considerations

While it is very important to your runner's workout to incorporate strength training, it is just as important that you train at an intensity that will not limit your running performance and create unnecessary fatigue. According to the Rome Athletic Club, it is best to schedule your strength training on days when your workout regimen does not include running.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.