Changing My Approach to Muscle Strengthening 2018

The Push-up: An essential muscle strengthening exercise

Leading into one of my marathons, I decided to change my approach to muscle strengthening. Why? Well I read article titled, The Science of Muscle Strengthening, by Dr. Reed Ferber, Director of the Running Injury Clinic and a Professor at the University of Calgary. This article got me thinking about how a runner needs to approach muscle strengthening.

Ferber writes, “Unfortunately, no studies have been conducted on long-distance  (recreational or competitive) runners to understand the effects of muscle strengthening on overall performance. As such, I cannot speak to how these types of exercises will help you reach a personal best time. However, our research was one of the first to show that muscle strengthening results in a reduction in stride-to-stride variability; in other words, a more consistent running gait pattern on a step-by-step basis.”

Also from a general health and wellness perspective (and a fact I’m increasingly interested in) - an individual loses about 1% of lean muscle a year starting at age 40 - muscle strengthening helps slow this trend. And let's be explicit, both men and women can benefit from a muscle strengthening program!

In my lead up to the marathon, my strength program took place three days per week on my harder running days - keeping hard days hard and easy days easy. However, Ferber’s article mentions that, “There is also strong evidence that performing strengthening exercises every day, using lighter resistance such as an elastic band, is better than doing strengthening work two or three times a week using heavier weights. So, if you make muscle strengthening part of your daily routine, you’ll begin to feel the benefits in a few weeks.” Yet, “One important principle to keep in mind, though: always perform muscle strengthening exercises after a run - never immediately before. These are your key stabilizing muscles and if these muscles are done before a run, the risk of injury increases due to fatigue.”

Current equipment for bodyweight routine: chair, elastic cord, and heel raise board

With this in mind, I’ve revised my strength program to take place six times a week and yoga one time a week. To keep it interesting, I’ve developed two separate, yet equivalent bodyweight exercise routines and one kettlebell routine. My routines are designed to hit all areas of the body (legs, arms, and core) and specific areas for runners (e.g., heel raises for the Achilles tendon). The length of time it takes to complete each routine is about 15 minutes. The picture to the left shows the three pieces of equipment I use for my bodyweight routines: chair, elastic band, and heel raise board,

What are the effects so far? I’ve noticed a metabolism boost and feeling energetic, so positive changes at this point!

In 2023, during the race season, I'm doing this CORE STRENGTH PROGRAM three days per week and strength training three days per week. I must admit that I enjoy trying out different strengthening movements, like a Two-Dumbbell Strength Routine, which I'll be publishing later on in 2023.
*     *     *     *     *
I am interested in what you have to say! What bodyweight exercises do you consider essential for muscle strengthening? And specifically for runners? (Like the top picture shows, is the push-up on your list of essential exercises?)

Thanks for reading! If you've made it this far, your sharing of this post much appreciated as it really helps grow the readership of Experiment of One Coaching.



Experiment of One Coaching covers topics ranging from running, strength training, health & wellness, sports nutrition to travel.