Resistance training can aid in the prevention of injuries by building strength in muscles, tendons and ligaments. Resistance training can also balance the muscles, thereby leading to improvements in the mechanics of movement.
PERIODIZATION: Use different training programs for different periods of the year and a series of progressions, or steps, in which athletes move from one level of fitness to another. Vern Gambetta (of Gambetta Sports Training Systems) says, “If you can build your strength by putting in some 30-minute days in the weight room three or four days a week during what distance runners might call the off- or building season, then you can maintain your strength with somewhat less work at other times of the year.” Stephen Anderson warns that if you are doing resistance training more than twice a week, “Never work the same muscle groups on consecutive days.” A weight session can easily be added to the end of a shorter run.
TECHNIQUE & FORM: Through proper technique and form, you isolate the target muscles, optimally increase your muscular strength and endurance, and reduce the potential for injury. It is not only the quantity of the resistance that produces results but also the quality with which you move the weight.
Your breath becomes a powerful tool in your strength-training workout routine. The breathing pattern is a full exhalation during the exertion phase of the movement and a full inhalation when you move the resistance in the opposing direction. This deep abdominal breathing will itself energize you.
WORKOUTS: The philosophy of sequence in a strength-building program works a particular set of muscles, then follows with the opposing set of muscles. This ensures muscular balance, symmetry, improved postural alignment, and minimal rest periods. The sequence allows you to realize maximum results in a minimum amount of time. Move from one exercise to the next after one set, then return for the second rotation. This extends each exercise’s endurance component and cuts down on your waiting time.
Repetitions represent an individual movement within an exercise. The lifting and lowering phase of a movement equals one repetition. The number of repetitions usually ranges from 8 to 12. This range allows you to blend power, endurance, strength, and definition. The goal is to find resistance in each exercise that you can move for 8 to 12 repetitions without compromising technique and form. When your form breaks, end the movement at that point and move on to the next exercise. The number of repetitions for an exercise equals a set. Begin a program with weights lighter than what you can lift until you have the sense of how your body responds to the entire program, then increase the weights in small (1-5 lb) increments.
Anaerobic weight training builds larger, thicker, and more explosive muscles through heavier weights and fewer repetitions. Aerobic weight training creates leaner, more toned muscles with great stamina by relying on a higher number of repetitions and the use of lighter weights. Each style of training accentuates a different muscle fiber.
FLEXIBILITY & BALANCE: You cannot divorce strength from flexibility. “A good strength program promotes dynamic flexibility.” The most effective time to stretch is after each run and after each strength session to restore muscles to their resting length. The areas that need particular attention are the quadriceps, hamstrings, shins, calves, and iliotibial band.