You may wonder if strength training is appropriate when you participate in another sport. For example, does strength training have a place in your training program if you are currently training for a half marathon?
Strength is the most general athletic skill we possess. Building strength is essential not only for increasing your athleticism but also for your activities of everyday life. Properly executed barbell lifts are the most efficient way to build all over strength.
Building strength will:
- Boost your metabolism and improve your insulin sensitivity. Muscle is more metabolically active and will burn more calories throughout the course of a day. More muscle means more insulin receptor cells, and increased insulin sensitivity means your body is able to more efficiently store the carbohydrates you eat.
- Lessen your chance of injury. Skeletal muscle protects your bones, tendons and ligaments. This applies to every aspect of your life, from playing sports to getting out of bed.
- Improve your cardio workouts and make everyday activities easier. Muscle is what moves your bones.
- Improve your posture. It takes strength to hold good posture, and good posture will relieve shoulder and neck pain, sciatic pain, and other common chronic back ailments.
- Help you fight off the effects of sarcopenia. Starting around age 20 our bodies lose muscle mass. Postmenopausal women lose muscle mass at an even increased rate.
To dive deeper into the benefits of building muscle let’s look at running. Runners often suffer from patellofemoral pain syndrome, or runner’s knee. There is a link between runner’s knee and pelvic instability; therefore building your hip musculature can relieve your knee pain. Studies show it relieves the pain more quickly than isolated exercises to strengthen your knees. A low bar back squat, paired with the proper stretches and mobility drills, is a great exercise to strengthen your hip musculature.
The muscle you’ve built is generating more power when you run, especially running uphill, and has increased your endurance. Your run times may have even improved with less training, and in spite of some muscle weight gain. Without the knee pain you are also able to maintain a more consistent training schedule.
All good stuff! The law of specificity still applies; to get better at running you still need to run. However, weightlifting belongs in your training schedule. And of course the law of specificity applies to getting stronger, if you want to get stronger then start safely picking heavy things up.