The Importance of Strength Training

“Practice makes perfect” may be an oft-repeated phrase, but it is sometimes far from wise. You see, if cross-country or any other type of running-centric activity is your sport of choice, conventional wisdom suggests that running often— tempo runs, sprints, and even relaxing jogs—contribute to better run time and endurance. Even though this isn’t entirely untrue, there are still many runners out there who are underestimating the importance that strength training plays in their overall fitness and running performance.

emmanuel-garcia-uvm-kettle-bell-592905_960_720At the core of your performance on the track is your cardiovascular system. In order to get it to peak performance, there’s no question that you need to take it to— and eventually exceed— its set limits. It’s well-established that the best way to see results is to vary your workout schedule and not fall into a routine, lest your body becomes too used to the program at hand. Of course, this explains why we may vary our run durations and tempos, but it also applies to activity outside of running, too. Weightlifting can put healthy stress on our cardiovascular system as well, and by hitting the weights we are increasing our endurance in a relatively fresh way!

When resistance training, decrease the amount of time you rest between sets. Resting is unavoidable, but by cutting back on that time, you are pushing your muscles to new heights and calling on your body to do more work in a shorter period of time. It’s also helpful to lift hard and fast. By resistance training with such high intensity, you are working on increasing your metabolism as well as your stamina.

But all strength training exercises are not created equal. To really get the most out of your session, step away from the complicated machines and embrace the simplicity of the free weights. Doing so forces you to rely purely on your own strength and to watch your form— machines actually assist you in your lifts, and as a result your form can get sloppy in the process. Also, opt for compound lifts like squats and deadlifts, because it engages multiple joints and muscle groups, which really gets your heart rate up.

from Emmanuel Garcia Cross Country


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