Runner is usually a stubborn animal. Experienced people are the toughest: they find it silly to invest time in anything other than running and they beat their chests proudly that they never had to undergo the boredom of weight room exercises, also known as specific strengthening work. But finding the best strengthening workout for your goal can make a difference.
Experts updated in the recent literature ensure that no type of runner can do without an efficient and well-executed muscle strengthening job, regardless of sporting goals, habits or stages of life. “Strength is the most fundamental physical capacity that we have. Without it, we don’t get up from the chair. Running is important, but it is not enough ”, warns Renato Dutra. He is one of the greatest experts on the subject, a runner for 30 years and a trainer turning 20.
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Specific strengthening work: what is it?
When we think of strengthening, the image that comes to the head is usually full of muscles. Common sense also deceives us on this point, since a strong runner is not necessarily the one with the biggest biceps or the most defined calf, but, rather, what went beyond and dedicated attention to the so-called “soft tissues” or “connective”, composed of bones, cartilage and tendons, so required during running and essential for successful adaptation or for us to be able to run for life. That is why strength training needs to be focused on the characteristics that the race has. And the best strength training for runners may not be lifting the maximum pounds.
While the weight training programs of most gyms pursue a public more interested in aesthetic results and bet mainly on muscle hypertrophy – that is, gaining body mass, more immediate and visible -, what the race calls for is specific training, which contemplates neurotransmitter aspects, responsible for improving mechanical efficiency, preserving joints, tendons, bones and muscles.
You don’t have to park your weight machines – although they are still the most proven, safe, practical and efficient alternative. It is worth opting for other styles of training, and some even say that it is good to mix different types. But if you want to start running, start running again, improve your marks or simply stay in activity until the end of your life, you need to open your mind and invest in some strengthening method. We help you in this mission!
The best specific strengthening training for beginners
Main objective: Prepare the body to receive the load applied in the race.
Caution: Take it easy! Adaptation takes time and persistence, not extra burden and exaggeration.
Anyone starting to run needs to think of themselves as a house in the process of being built. The priority at that first moment is to build a strong foundation, a healthy foundation for everything that will come later. “That’s why you can’t keep increasing the training load in the race or in the weight training in a hurry to gain strength. Bones, tendons and cartilage receive much less blood supply and therefore have a slower adaptation speed in relation to the muscles ”, explains Renato Dutra.
The guideline is to repeat the same exercises over a few weeks to allow time for these connective tissues to create conditions to respond to new loads. According to Nelson Evêncio, specialist in sports training and president of ATC (Association of São Paulo’s Running Coaches), this is not the time to think about performance, but rather to adapt the body to the new reality. “We normally use light loads, working with few muscle groups,” says the expert.
Until recently, it was common for strength training to be designed from the extremities, that is, arms and legs. Today the training is set up in terms of movement, conceived based on the motor requirement of the runner. Because of this, the core region (set of trunk muscles) is gaining a lot of importance: a strong trunk makes a lot of difference in preventing injuries and gaining performance.
Experts recommend that beginners take care to strengthen the muscles of the region around the abdomen and abdominal wall, as well as the back: back, paravertebrals, lumbar region and deep hip, below the gluteus maximus, which is the most prominent muscle of the butt. . There are a number of other muscles there, such as the middle, minimum and piriform gluteus, which provide a lot of stability during the stride’s strides.
In this initial phase, prefer less complex exercises, such as squats, which are the basis for more elaborate ones, such as sinking and advancing. It is the right time to face the gym rooms and their increasingly efficient devices. “Because it is two-dimensional – working on only two axes – weight training is a good choice for beginners, simplifying this first phase, providing more security and showing results,” advises Renato Dutra.
Another good alternative is pilates, which deeply strengthens the central region of the body, so important for stability. Luciano Baccelli is a former athlete in the Brazilian athletics team, physical trainer and physiotherapist. Seven years ago he adopted pilates as a method to train other athletes. “Pilates is an account of strength, endurance, balance, stretching and body perception, allowing a range of exercises that adapt to the needs of each person”, he defends. In beginner runners, Luciano usually pays attention to the overall coordination and movements of the race, in addition to emphasizing the stretching and strength of the entire body.