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The right prescription--strength training.

Runners have historically not been too inclined to build muscle mass. They have worried that any extra weight might slow them down. In fact, you can often spot the distance runner by their characteristic body type: slim, lean, speed and endurance machines. Trainers and other experts have been chipping away at the runner's misconception of muscle mass for a long time now, recognizing that power is a combination of speed and strength, and that virtually every athlete can benefit from more strength. Muscles not only contribute to power but also help to prevent injury and speed rehabilitation.

Reporting in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, exercise scientists have gone even one step further to recommend strength training for virtually everyone. Healthy adults, the elderly, and even cardiac patients can benefit from resistance training. According to several major health organizations, including the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Heart Association, and the Surgeon General's Office, strength training belongs in any comprehensive health promotion plan. Resistance training develops overall health and fitness.

And, unless you are trying to create the look you've seen on the cover of body building magazines, these researchers contend that you can gain significant benefits without a major commitment of time and money. You don't have to join an expensive gym or spend hours and hours a week to see real results. Almost everyone can gain strength from single sets of up to 15 repetitions of eight to 10 exercises done at least two times a week. So, if you haven't already added weights to your fitness program, give it a try. Here are some tips from Running & FitNews Editorial Board Member, Doug Lentz, C.S.C.S., to get you started:

* Runners are runners, not body builders. Keep the program specific. Emphasize exercises that directly impact running performance, such as leg and posture muscles. o Runners can perform their strength workouts at home with minimal expense incurred. Time invested to produce benefits can be as little as 30 minutes, two to three times a week.

* All strength training sessions should begin with an overall warm up of calisthenics as well specific warm-ups using light weights for the muscles being worked.

* Training guidelines are the same for men and women. The amount of weight being lifted varies according to strength, not gender.

* To reap the greatest benefits, it is imperative that you make every repetition count. "Cheating" repetitions that are rushed or use sloppy form produce no benefits and can increase your chance of injury.

(Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 1999, Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 38-45. See "Running & FitNews," September, 1998 for more information on strength training for runners.)
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Running & FitNews
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 1999
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