Tuesday, February 10, 2009

strength training helps running economy in long distance running

Running economy can be quantified as the oxygen consumption at a given intensity of exercise.
A greater running economy or efficiency of movement can result in a lower energetic cost
when running at sub-maximal speeds, thus allowing the runner to move faster over a given
distance. One method for improving running economy is the implementation of a strength
training regime. However, little data exists comparing different types of strength training regimes on running economy. Sixteen well trained runners were randomly divided into two resistance training interventions, explosive or heavy resistance training. Each training intervention was performed twice per week for the duration of the study. Both groups performed exercise that targeted the lower leg musculature including
the leg press, parallel squat, leg extension, leg flexion, and calf raise. The explosive training
group performed three sets of 12RM in each exercise, while concentrating on performing the
concentric portion of each lift as explosively as possible. The heavy weight training group
performed three sets of 6RM in each exercise. In addition to the strength training regime, the
subjects performed one high intensity aerobic exercise session (2 x 20 minutes at 60% VO-
2max) and three sub-maximal aerobic sessions (45 – 60 minutes at 60 – 70% VO2max). When
comparing the two training interventions the heavy weight training was the only intervention
to result in improvements in running economy. Additionally, the heavy weight training resulted
in a greater increase in 1RM strength and countermovement vertical jump performance when
compared to the explosive resistance training group. The most important finding of this investigation is that heavy resistance training can improve running economy. However, this study should be viewed with some caution. The explosive exercise intervention is somewhat misleading in that it does not contain the set and repetition characteristics typically seen in a strength training plan that targets explosive movements. In fact the repetition scheme selected should probably be considered a high volume or an endurance lifting session. In this light the results of this study become even more interesting in that high volume lifting is typically recommended for endurance athletes. However, the results of the current study seem to suggest that lower volume, higher intensity strength training aimed at increasing maximal strength seems to result in greater improvements in running economy.
Guglielmo, L.G., Greco, CC, and Denadai, BS. Effects
of strength training on running economy. Int
J Sports Med 30:27 – 32. 2009.

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