Bergermann, M., & Ferrauti, A. (2009). Effects of whole body strength training on running performance and running economy in recreational runners. A paper presented at the 14th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway, June 24-27.

red line

This study investigated the effects of a combined training protocol with recreational runners (N = 20) consisting of endurance plus additional strength training compared to exclusively running. Two groups were formed each consisting of 10 runners, matched for VO2max and anaerobic threshold. The additional strength training group completed an eight-week strength training program while pursuing their usual running training. The exclusively running group followed usual running training with no additional strength intervention. Strength training was carried out twice a week. On Tuesday the trunk muscles (reverse fly, bench press, lateral flexion, trunk extension, trunk flexion and trunk rotation) were trained (3 sets with 20 repetitions of 25 RM). On Thursday, high resistance training for the leg muscles was completed (leg press, knee extension, knee flexion, hip extension and ankle extension) which aimed to improve motor recruitment patterns (4 sets with 3-5 reps of the 3-5 RM). With increasing strength, weights were added to maintain the same relative resistance.

No changes in body mass occurred during the intervention period. Only in the additional strength training group did maximum torque of knee extension increase significantly. No intervention effects were found for running coordination (stride length, stride frequency, and foot ground contact time). VO2 at defined moderate running velocities remained unchanged in both groups. VO2max and velocity at the anaerobic threshold increased significantly in both groups, with changes being larger in the intervention group, although they were not significantly larger. No significant intervention x measurement effect was found.

Implication. Running economy, defined as lower O2-uptake at a given running velocity, is not affected by strength training in recreational runners. [This study involved recreational runners and needs to be repeated with elite runners to generalize the findings to that group.]

Return to Table of Contents for this issue.

red line