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Fitness & Health

29th Apr 2019

If you’re a runner, this is how you should train legs at the gym

Combining weights with endurance training is a problem most gym goers will encounter. To train legs with minimal cost to running, bear these points in mind

Alex Roberts

Combining weights with endurance training is a problem most gym goers will encounter

However, top exercise scientists have now developed a solution for this sticky situation. And it’s not to skip leg day. Runners just may have to think a little differently about how they train legs.

Previous research suggested that lifting weights could hinder performance in endurance sports (such as running).

The risks of lifting for runners

According to Dr. Kenji Doma of James Cook University, this is because the physical stress of a typical lifting session continues well beyond the hour you’re in the gym.

“Based on previous evidence, we suspect that if appropriate recovery is not accounted for between each training mode, it may impair endurance development,” he said.

In other words, if you don’t rest and recuperate after smashing your leg day session, your running performance is likely to be affected.

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a kind of muscle burn and pump you sometimes experience after a workout, and it can last between one and three days after training.

Dr. Doma says there are several ways in which a weights session could impact on endurance training. These include: intensity, volume, speed of lifting, recovery between sessions and the order of sessions in your training plan.

To make the most out of both your leg day session and endurance performance, you have to bear these factors in mind.

“Both resistance and endurance training can be prescribed in such a way that minimises fatigue between modes of training, which could optimise the quality of endurance training sessions,” said Dr. Doma.

The weight-training blueprint for runners

Dr. Doma suggested the following for informing how you train legs:

“One of the easiest recommendations to follow is that if the performance of resistance and endurance training sessions on the same day is unavoidable, endurance training sessions should be done prior to resistance training, with at least half a day of recovery in-between training sessions,” he said.

You may have been told never to perform cardio before weights. However, you can if you ensure there are at least 12 hours between sessions and you take on adequate food.

Carbs aren’t evil – they replenish energy stores in between workouts

This advice can be summarised into the following points:

  • Lifting weights could hinder endurance training if you don’t recover properly
  • Smashing a leg workout at the gym and then going straight for a run isn’t going to cut the mustard
  • If you’re a runner, typical bodybuilding-style routines involving little rest alongside lots of reps and sets is most risky
  • If you can’t avoid lifting and running on the same day, leave 12 hours in between sessions and take on sufficient food in between

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