WILL lifting weights make you a slower runner?
Weather you are reading this blog as a GAA player, road runner, training for an ironman or just enjoy some casual 5k’s in the park this blog is here to help you understand the importance of strength training and the vital role it has to play in your life.
One widely held misconception regarding strength training is that it makes those who do it slow. The belief itself is based on two half truths that have been putting people off a great method of improving themselves as athletes for many years!
The half truths in question are that:
1) Weight training is always as heavy as possible and so is always performed slowly.
2) Weight training makes you gain weight and so this slows you down.
Let’s take a closer look.
1) Weight training with an absolute maximum load (the most weight you can physically move in that exercise) happens very slowly. That’s because it takes time to generate the force required for that one single effort. Ask yourself this… when was the last time you went into the gym and trained for a 1 rep max every single day of the week?
Not all weight training is the same. Just as you don’t run 400m the same speed as you run a marathon (unless you’re Eliud Kipchoge or Sir Mo Farah maybe).
Training for speed should involve using lighter weights that are no where near your maximum lifts. This means we can move it much quicker and hence improve our speed/velocity, quite the opposite of slowing us down!
2) You CAN gain weight using weight training BUT you’d have to be in what we call a calories surplus (eating more than you really require). This would then also need to be coupled up with high volume training with the AIM of muscle gain. Certain people who’s goal is to build muscle can take months, even years to reach that goal, It doesn’t happen overnight or by accident!
The moral of the story
Don’t sweat it, but certainly don’t fall into the trap of believing the half truths. In reality, when using a properly designed and individualised weight training programme, no runner should gain useless muscle mass or start to produce force more slowly. A good plan will in fact improve performance and reduce your injury risk.