6 Ways To Optimise Your ST Workouts

1. Work Goal Specific:
ST programs should be designed according to your individual running goals. For e.g. If I have a race coming up with 3000 meters of elevation gain, I will include more weighted lunges and step-ups to simulate the climbs and single leg squats to prepare my legs for the longer descents. You should also target specific muscle weaknesses and keep in mind present injuries. A runner’s assessment can identify areas that need improvement and help set goals to transform you into a well-balanced runner.


2. Choose Compound Movements:
A compound movement is any exercise that involves more than one joint and muscle group at a time. Compound exercise saves time, as you don’t need to train every individual muscle in isolation. A basic squat requires you to engage over 200 muscles and requires movement at the back, hip, knee and ankle, producing a full body effect.


3. Perform Exercises in Running Specific Postures:
Running is a single leg sport. During running we support and balance our full body weight on one leg at a time. We repeatedly land on one leg and propel of again with the same leg before the opposite foot strikes the ground.  To oversimplify; running can thus be broken down into a lot of single leg squats (landing) and calf raises (push-off). By performing ST exercises in running specific, single leg postures will optimize training and directly translate into better running form.


4. High Load, Low Reps:
A small volume of high-quality strength training is enough to stimulate change in the tissues.  The research recommends that we perform one set of 8-10 reps of each goal exercise.


5. Stop When Form Deteriorates:
Your technique needs to be perfect for 2 reasons:

  1. Poor technique causes unwanted stress on joints and soft tissue structures, increasing your risk of injury.
  2. Poor technique will reinforce incorrect movement patterns that will translate into your running as poor form.

    As soon as you are too tired to finish a perfect rep, rather stop and move on to the next exercise. First develop good technique before introducing more weight.


6. Mix it up:
As you improve, introduce new exercises, to continue challenging the neuromuscular pathways to learn and strengthen.  The squat can be progressed in 3 different ways: Add more weight (barbell squat), move through more range (deep squats) or add a balance component (squat on a bosu ball).


The main barrier to overcome when implementing a strength-training program is finding time to do it. If you follow the principles above and commit to 20 minutes twice a week and you will see the benefits.


by Tarrin van Niekerk