Running – the importance of strength training

Are you looking to take your running to the next level this year?

Perhaps win a running race? Or maybe just get that competitive edge over your friends at a fun run? If so, this is a MUST READ!

You may already be familiar with the term Strength Training, or have previously read our blog post What is Strength Training? A Beginners Guide…. But how does this all affect your ability to run?

Well, if you are not doing STRENGTH TRAINING as a runner, you are in fact negatively affecting your PERFORMANCE…. And here’s why!

Strength training can benefit running performance without any change in muscle mass quantity.


Essentially, strength training can help improve how well you use what you already have! But how?


Improvements in running performance after implementing strength training is due to changes in neuromuscular function. Here’s why:

  1. Motor unit RECRUITMENT: larger motor units are recruited in response to greater loads or velocity. This threshold is lowered with strength training and causes an increase in rate of force development. This means you’ll be recruiting more muscle fibres to create movement.
  2. Motor unit RATE CODING: Strength training improves the firing rate (coding) of motor units, thereby increasing our ability to produce force rapidly!
  3. Motor unit SYNCHRONISATION: Strength training improves the simultaneous activation of multiple motor units at a single time point, thereby increasing our rate of force development.
  4. NEUROMUSCULAR INHIBITION: neural feedback from both muscle and joint receptors can reduce force output (as a protective mechanism from unknown or ‘new’ stress). Strength training decreases regulation of this neural feedback, inhibiting antagonistic muscle groups and thereby increases force production.


So now you know the benefits, how do you get stuck in?

Well, I’d recommend doing 3-5 reps at 80-100% of a 5 rep max, for 3 to 5 sets, twice a week.

Make sure you include both bilateral (think back squats and trap bar deadlifts) and unilateral (think lunges and split squats) exercises into your program.

If you’re unsure of how to train safely and correctly please make sure to seek out a qualified exercise professional. An Accredited Exercise Physiologist will have the knowledge and the skills to provide you with a strength program designed specifically to you, that will consider your lifestyle, body and goals, all while optimising performance and avoiding injury.




  • Beattie, K., Et al (2016). The Effect of Strength Training on Performance Indicators in Distance Runners
  • Denadai, B., Et al (2016). Explosive Training and Heavy Weight Training are Effective for Improving Running Economy in Endurance Athletes: A Systematic review, 1-10
  • Yamamoto, L., et al (2008). The effects of resistance training on endurance distance running performance among highly trained runners: A systematic review, 22(6), 2036-2044