5 Myths Of Resistance Training For Runners: Using Light Weights Will Benefit Your Performance

It’s been a common thought that resistance training with high reps builds muscular endurance and will “TONE” your muscles into efficient working mini machines.  This can not be further from the truth when talking about performance and sculpting the body you’ve always wanted.

Let’s face it.  Most people exercise (run) in this case to 1. Feel better (stay healthy, keep the heart strong etc.) 2. Look better.  If you can have the best of both worlds then I think you can open your mind to this concept that it’s OK to lift heavier weights.

I know what you’re thinking.  You don’t want to get hurt and you don’t want to look like the ladies on the left:

Since distance running is endurance oriented many have assumed that the use of high reps with low weight is the best way to condition running-specific muscles.

Since distance running is endurance oriented many have assumed that the use of high reps with low weight is the best way to condition running-specific muscles.

Unfortunately, high reps and low weights don’t build muscular endurance as you can see from the  recent research. The 12-20 rep range does not increase muscular endurance any more than the 6-8 repetition range.

Originally, in the beginning, we may use a lighter load and higher rep range to groove some technique and gain a “feel” for how the movement should feel.  Also, preparing the tissue for what’s ahead is important.  Once we get more experienced (which can sometimes happen in a matter of weeks), the rep ranges need to change quickly to keep the strength gains coming.

The purpose of resistance training is to obviously build strength through the process of developing tension in the muscles.  In order to accomplish this you need to be working at or above  70%  of your maximal strength threshold.  All humans are comprised of two types of muscle fibers, fast twitch and slow twitch.  It’s in our best interest to recruit as many of these fibers as possible when we’re strength training. This makes the nervous and muscular systems very efficiently together.  Your body will always use the slow twitch fibers first, and the fast twitch will not come into play until they are called upon to complete a difficult task, like the last few reps of a 5rm bench press.  The more experienced you become with resistance training, you need to continue to train above this 70% threshold to keep the fast twitch fibers engaged.  Highly trained individuals will need to stay in the 85-90% range to increase their strength.

Little Weights = Little Results

There are 3 primary ways we go about establishing a protocol for developing strength.

1.  The Standard Rep Method:  This is the typical “gym” approach where you set out to fatigue your muscles with a variety of sets and reps.  Many times there’s no real method or structure to the process and the only gains are the last few reps you make to fatigue.

2.  Maximal Effort Method:  This is where a relative maximal amount of tension (a 1-6 rep range) is applied to the muscle system eliciting a high level of neural recruitment. This is where maximal strength occurs with the minimal amount of muscle “bulk” if you will.  I attribute part of the success to our 2 NCAA National Track & Field Champions to this method of training.

3.  Dynamic Effort Method:  Other wise known as the plyometric method.  This is where a sub-maximal load is moved as fast as possible.  Many athletes and weekend warriors jump right to this method with little or know strength base and run into problems.  There are many levels of the Dynamic Effort Method.

This video shows a level 1 activity where body weight is moving fast but the landing impact loads are minimized by landing elevated on the box.  A two foot landing always precedes the single leg landing.

The science behind this method is that it teaches the nervous system to recruit (innervate) muscle tissue faster and more efficiently.  Through training adaptation the tendons are capable of storing more elastic energy.  When this happens they become more reflexive and responsive.  Running becomes more efficient as the demand on muscle tissue alone becomes less demanding.

In The Next Series we will cover Myth #3 – Are Machines Just As Good As Free Weights?

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *