Simple Olympic Weightlifting Routine For Runners

Weightlifting Routine For Runners

Runners often find themselves in between the stigma of not lifting heavy weights and focusing on becoming as light as possible to improve their running times. However, things have now changed and everyone can enjoy a fruitful weightlifting routine, whilst still being a fast runner.

Once you begin Olympic weightlifting training, you will notice just how much of a benefit it could have on your performance. Some of the explosive exercises might help with acceleration, whilst it just improves the endurance of your muscles in general.

If you are one of these athletes looking to incorporate weightlifting into your running routine, you have come to the right place. The goal of this article is to give you a clear and concise approach to adding weightlifting to your running routine functionally and sustainably.

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Why You Should Incorporate Weightlifting In Your Routine

There are a couple of reasons why runners should consider adding a weightlifting routine a couple of times a week for optimal performance.

Some research shows that when you lift weights while training for a running event, you can end up possibly using less energy and oxygen when you run. Now, if you are a runner, you will understand that having additional strength and oxygen available will propel you to go even further and faster in many of these cases.

Overall, you will notice that the addition of this new weightlifting program improves running economy at VO2Max, which also improves the neuromuscular coordination and power of the runner to such a degree that they can go further for longer. In competition, this is often the final spurt of energy you might need to improve your time or simply win the race.

Aside from having additional performance benefits, it also helps a lot when thinking of injury prevention. It just makes sense that when you have stronger muscles, they will be able to endure far more before needing rest and recovery.

But, weightlifting itself can be a complicated addition to your workouts and many might be wondering what they should do exactly when staring ahead at the massive rack of weights.

Optimal Length For A Weightlifting Session For Runners

So, let’s get some of the semantics out of the way first and one of the first questions is how long should a runner spend in the gym.

Much like those training for their own personal health, a solid training routine would last anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes before completion. This is mostly split into 6 different exercises, which target different muscles. Ideally, you want to isolate two or three muscle groups each day for the best results.

For each exercise, this is broken down even further and should consist of around 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Having 30 seconds to 1 minute worth of rest would be ideal for the muscles that have been trained to optimally recover for the next set.

Runners might want to limit their gym exposure to around 3 or 4 times per week. This would be reduced even more if you had a competition on the weekend. The idea is to give muscles optimal time for recovery before competing – similar to what competitive sports teams do with their players before a big game.

About two to three hours in the gym each week should suffice, depending on whether you have a competition that you need to be ready for or not.

During these few hours, your aim should be to focus on precise form at around 75% of your maximum weight capacity or 1-rep max. It should ideally max out by the time you have reached the tenth repetition, which should give you a great workout.

Basic Weight Training Routine For Runners

To get the best results, you will need to consult a professional coach who will tailor a program specifically to your needs. These trainers understand how to make your current strengths and weaknesses work together to attain the best possible results on the way to your goal. However, the following is a skeleton program, meant to provide you with a basic guideline of where to go.

  • Pull-ups or Lat Pulldown – 3 x 10
  • Barbell squats – 3 x 10
  • Dumbell Press – 3 x 10
  • Deadlifts – 3 x 10
  • Plank – 3 x 10
  • Side plank – 3 x 10

This is a basic full-body workout that should work most of the muscles in your body. Additional exercises like tricep and bicep workouts can be a great occasional addition that will add some more depth to your physique and amp up some of the strength gains you have made from these larger compound movements.

The methodology of focusing more on the larger muscle groups remains the same as these give you the biggest return on investment for the shortest amount of time spent in the gym. If you don’t feel that a full-body workout is ideal for you, you could break it up into smaller variations, which can look like this;

  • Chest & Biceps – Day 1
  • Legs – Day 2
  • Back & Core – Day 3
  • Shoulders & Triceps – Day 4

Now this might not be an advanced training routine, but it will give you some of the basic elements that you need to get you going. You can squeeze in an additional rest day in between each of these days, which should give your body time to recover as you tackle the latter parts of the exercise program.

However, it is recommended that you keep your leg training as close to the start of the week as possible. Once this has been completed, you will be in full running condition by the time the weekend hits.

Make sure that you incorporate enough rest to ensure that you get the best value for your time spent in the gym. Also, it is important to note that you want to do everything in your power to avoid injuries.

Since you are already running and probably following a guided running program, you should avoid cardio at the gym. Yes, you can spend 5 or 10 minutes walking on the treadmill as part of your warm-up, but don’t overexert yourself on cardio. You probably do enough of this when training for running competitions.

Finally, the diet that you follow will be absolutely vital to your success. If the diet you follow is on point, you should be able to build muscle more efficiently and your recovery will be much better. For this, a professional dietician is recommended to ensure you get all the nutritional value that will be needed.

You might be slightly sore for the first two weeks, but once your body adapts, you should find yourself improving and getting incredible results when you are working out. This will make you perform better.


So, instead of being afraid of adding running to your routine, it will be best if you can add this to ensure that you train more efficiently. Your results will speak for themselves. Even the great Usain Bolt spent a good amount of time in the gym when preparing. But let us know in the comments how you feel about adding weightlifting to a running program.