3 Myths About Strength Training For Runners

  • By Jeff Gaudette
  • Published Dec. 20, 2013
  • Updated Dec. 20, 2013 at 12:10 PM UTC
Recovery time is crucial between sets in the weight room. Photo:

Myth #1: Maintain Short Rest Between Sets

When most runners hit the gym, they feel like they need to replicate the feeling and the work they do on the roads. Typically, that means keeping the heart rate elevated. As a runner myself, I know it can feel foreign to consider a workout effective if I’m not breathing hard.

That means most runners try to take as little rest as possible between sets. It’s not uncommon to find runners resting only 30-60 seconds between exercises. Unfortunately, these brief rest periods are detrimental to strength development because of the primary energy system used and the rate of recovery.

Unlike in running, which relies on the aerobic system for energy, the major source of energy when trying to build strength is what we call adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is responsible for providing the energy to produce short, powerful movements — like we need for strength training. As you can see in the chart above, ATP requires at least two to three minutes to approach full recovery.

By not fully recovering between sets when strength training, you’re not able to maximize the recruitment of your muscle fibers and the quality and effectiveness of your session plummets.

While it will feel completely foreign to you as a distance runner, it’s important that you take the necessary recovery time between each set to fully replenish your ATP system. If your goal is to build strength, you need to be taking at least a 2-minute recovery between each set.

RELATED: 5 Essential Exercises For Runners

« PreviousNext »


Jeff Gaudette

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff has been running for 13 years, at all levels of the sport. He was a two time Division-I All-American in Cross Country while at Brown University and competed professionally for 4 years after college for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Jeff's writing has been featured in Running Times magazine, Endurance Magazine, as well as numerous local magazine fitness columns.

Get our best running content delivered to your inbox

Subscribe to the FREE Competitor Running weekly newsletter