AMPT Training Series – Strength Training for Runners

AMPT Training Series – Strength Training for Runners

We hope you are enjoying the AMPT Training Series so far and are taking away great information to implement into your training plan. Our goal with this series is to help you become a stronger endurance athlete and help you prepare for our upcoming AMPT races, no matter the distance!

Last month we discussed the importance of speed work, and this month we will focus on adding strength training to your plan. Strength workouts are great because they can be added in toward the beginning of your training cycle and they set you up for success later when mileage starts to increase. Strength workouts help build a strong foundation and these types of workouts assist in training and growing muscles differently so that you gain the strength and endurance to run further for longer.

Note: The types of runs and supporting information listed below are based on RRCA and NASM training methodologies learned during the coaching certification class. Sample workouts are created from personal running and coaching experience!

Types of Strength Workouts

  1. Hills: The main strength run to be added into a plan is hill training. Last year we wrote extensively on the benefits to hill training, which you can review here. As a reminder, hills train your body differently than running on flat ground because they require using different muscle groups. You are working more of the posterior (back) of the body, specifically the glutes and hamstrings, compared to running at a steady state on flat ground. There is a fitness mantra that states “if you always do the same thing, you’ll get the same results” and this is very applicable to running. Running the same route, the same elevation, and the same workout repeatedly achieves the same results. To get better, faster, and stronger, we must challenge our body and muscles to continue to grow which will lead to new PR gains!
    An example hill workout would be the following: (note: hill workouts can be done outdoors, on a treadmill with incline, or even in a safe parking garage if you do not have a hill near you):
    • 1 mile warm up at conversational pace
    • Repeat the following 3-5X total:
      • 2 minutes uphill (can add incline on the treadmill, run the length of the hill, or run the length of the parking garage ramp)
      • 1 minute walking/slow jog (can walk back down the hill, down the ramp, or at a low incline on the treadmill)
    • Finish with 1 mile cool down at conversational pace.

    Important training tip about hills: When running uphill, hinge forward slightly, take quick small steps, drive knees up high, and pump the arms. At the top of the hill, take a few strides on the flat ground before recovering. If running downhill, it is important to avoid sprinting down the hill, especially in a race, as this wastes energy and puts undue pressure on the body and joints.

  2. Weight Training: Another important, and often overlooked component of strength training for runners is lifting weights. Many runners have a common misconception that lifting weights, specifically in the lower body, will take away from their running, however I would argue that this is actually the opposite effect! Weight training can make you a faster and stronger runner when done intentionally. When weight training, we create tiny micro-tears in our muscle fibers that later repair themselves to grow the muscle back stronger. As mentioned above, steady state running and endurance training will often work the same muscle groups over and over, so it is important to train these muscles differently and even train other muscle groups that may not be worked otherwise.In our body, everything is connected, and it really starts with the feet and legs. For example, having tight or under worked hamstrings could lead to back pain or pain elsewhere in the body, so not only can a well-rounded training plan make you stronger, but it can help prevent injury from overuse or underuse as well.I recommend adding weight training into the beginning of a training cycle/plan and phasing it out or getting lighter on the weight choice as it gets closer to race day. Lifting about 2 times per week in addition to running is a great starting point and choosing workouts that are total body and/or lower body focused will be beneficial.
    Not sure where to begin? Start small with the circuit below:
    • 10 squats, holding dumbbells at side, medium weight.
    • 10 dumbbell deadlifts, medium weight
    • 10 (each side) single leg dumbbell deadlifts, medium weight
    • 10 dumbbell hip bridges, heavy weight
    • 10 (each side) single leg dumbbell hip bridges, heavy weight
    • Rest for 2 min, repeat 3X total

    Great resources to find workouts that can be done in a gym or at home with dumbbells can be found at or, both which offer guided strength training plans that can be adjusted to your preferred frequency and availability of equipment!

Overall, we hope this information helps you as you train to become a well-rounded, strong, and PR-achieving athlete! Let’s get STRONGER together and Train with Purpose!

Written by: Ashley Morrison

Ashley has over 17 years of running and racing experience and is both NASM CPT and RRCA Certified. For more running tips and tricks, find Ashley at Run With Ashley on Instagram or on her website and blog.

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