Guide to Strength Training Periodization

LEARN WHY AND HOW TO SYNC STRENGTH TRAINING WITH YOUR RUN TRAINING PROGRAM

We all know that strength training is an important component to running strong and staying injury free. But many of us don’t know how or when to add it into our routine. With so much information about strength training available, and often conflicting, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and just do nothing instead. In this guide, we will break down some of the confusion about which exercises to do when.

PERIODIZATION IN RUN TRAINING

When you start a new training cycle, you have an end-date in mind – the race. Typically this goal race is 12-16 weeks away, giving you enough time to build endurance and get faster. Whether you work with a coach or are following an online plan, the beginning weeks are devoted to building your base. Typically there is not much speed work, and you are focusing on increasing endurance while letting the muscles and tendons adapt to the stress of increased mileage.

Slowly you move into the next phase of your training plan where you build stamina. And after that you move into faster, more race specific workouts. Finally you taper, pulling back on the volume and intensity in the weeks leading up to your race. This segmented way of training is called periodization. The goal of periodization is to maximize your gains while also minimizing risk of injury and burnout. It’s a gradual build of fitness, laying the bricks and increasing your capabilities.

Your strength training program should be designed in the same way as your run training. Start by building the base of stability, then lay down some strength, and finally peak with plyometrics and explosive moves. You wouldn’t run 10 miles at race pace at the beginning of a training cycle, so why would you do 50 box jumps when you don’t have a stable foundation built yet? Just like faster running, the heavy lifting and plyometrics have to be earned.

THE STABILITY PHASE

If you think of your training like a pyramid, the base has to be the biggest. It is what creates a solid pyramid. The base of your strength training pyramid is the Stability phase. This is where you correct any muscle imbalances, rehab old injuries and prehab against future ones. These exercises teach your body proprioception – you become aware of the positioning of your body when moving. You should include lots of balance work, uncomplicated core exercises, and single leg moves to work the glutes. Thirty minutes, three to four days a week is all you need here. Start with bodyweight movements and slowly add weight as you improve. Aim for 12-15 repetitions of these stability exercises, but stop when you can’t hold perfect form anymore. Stay in this phase for at least 4-6 weeks, or longer if you have a history of injury.

THE STRENGTH PHASE

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you are ready to move on to the next level of the pyramid: the Strength phase. In your running program this is where you start working on your stamina with tempo runs, hill repeats, and more. In your strength program it’s time to load up your muscles now that you’ve corrected imbalances. Think deadlifts, squats, lunges – cover all the basic movement patterns, including lateral movement. The goal of this phase is to build muscle. More muscle will keep you running longer at goal pace as you will be more resistant to fatigue. And more muscle will help you run faster, as you teach your brain to recruit more muscle fibers with every contraction. More fibers = more power.

Many runners I know avoid lifting heavy because they are scared of bulking up. The good news is you would have to try very, very hard to bulk up – multiple hour-long sessions and an excess of calories. And women lack the testosterone to get bulky muscles. In addition, all the cardio we do works in a catabolic way against muscle growth. Two sessions a week of 45-60 minutes is appropriate for the strength phase. Choose weights that feel challenging for 6-8 repetitions, but never go to failure. Always end a set feeling like you could do 1-2 more perfect reps. Stay in this phase for 4 weeks and you will see some serious gains. Hills will feel easier, tempos will get faster.

THE POWER PHASE

Finally, when you are about a month out from your goal race, it’s time to add in the sexy-looking exercises of the Power phase. In your running program this is where you move into the race specific work, doing longer goal pace workouts and honing in on speed. Your strength training will mimic this as you add in plyometrics and olympic lifts – the explosive, powerful movements that prime the legs to run fast. These exercises teach your body to recruit maximum muscle fibers for quick contractions. In running this will help you pick your foot up off the ground faster during each stride. And less time on the ground means more time flying through the air.

The Power phase doesn’t require any more than one to two sessions a week of 30-45 minutes each. Your running training will be at it’s peak, so you must be sure to get enough recovery and spend less time doing strength, especially as this phase is the most intense. When performing power exercises, keep repetitions low, in the 4-6 range, so you can perform each rep with maximum speed. Limit the jumps to 20-30 total repetitions per workout. Stay in this phase for two to three weeks. The week before your race, cut out all strength work except for a few stability exercises to keep the core and glutes online.

CONCLUSION

By following this progressive load structure, you will safely build strength and injury resistance, allowing you to run further and faster. If you are looking for more guidance on which exercises to select for each phase, I recommend you learn more about my Strength in Stride program. I designed this 12-week strength program to sync perfectly with a run training program without leaving you too sore or fatigued to hit those hard runs.

BONUS! EXAMPLE EXERCISES BY PHASE

Apply what you’ve learned about the phases of strength training periodization with these exercises. Three exercises for the Stability, Strength, and Power phases have been provided to illustrate what you should be working on in each of these phases.

PHASE 1 – STABILITY

Exercise 1: Dead Bug with mini band around toes

Sets x Reps: 3 x 20

Weight: light resistance

Exercise 2: Single leg deadlift

Sets x Reps: 3 x 8/leg

Weight: 0-15lb dumbbell

Exercise 3: Side plank with thread the needle

Sets x Reps: 3 x 10/side

Weight: 0-5lb dumbbell

PHASE 2 – STRENGTH

Exercise 1: Romanian deadlifts

Sets x Reps: 3 x 6

Weight: 20-50lb dumbbells

Exercise 2: Push ups on a stability ball

Sets x Reps: 3 x 10

Weight: none

Exercise 3: Pull-ups

Sets x Reps: 3 x 6

Weight: none

PHASE 3 – POWER

Exercise 1: Kettlebell swings

Sets x Reps: 3 x 10

Weight: 15-40lb kettlebell

Exercise 2: Box jumps

Sets x Reps: 3 x 10

Weight: 6-18″ box

Exercise 3: Medicine ball slams

Sets x Reps: 3 x 10

Weight: l8-20lb medicine ball

Video On-Demand: PreHab – Strength in Stride

$49.99 / year

Confused about strength training? Wonder how to sync it with your run training? Look no further! Strength in Stride is our innovative runner’s strength training system that actually flows with your training plan. Designed in phases, you build the right kind of strength at the right time so you get to the starting line healthy and the finish line faster. Easy to use and highly effective, you’ll love knowing exactly what to do and when with Strength in Stride. Access fee: $49.99/year, billed annually. Auto renews every year. Cancel anytime.

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Description

Get the routine that syncs perfectly with your run training plan.

Confused about strength training? Wonder how to sync it with your run training? Look no further! Strength in Stride is our innovative runner’s strength training system that actually flows with your training plan. Designed in phases, you build the right kind of strength at the right time so you get to the starting line healthy and the finish line faster. Easy to use and highly effective, you’ll love knowing exactly what to do and when with Strength in Stride.

THE FOUR PHASES OF STRENGTH IN STRIDE

Follow the proven four-phase strength training system and you’ll not just build a strong, supple runner’s body but you’ll peak on race day ready for your best performance.

Phase 1 – Stability

You begin Phase 1, the Stability phase, when you start your run training program. We’ve found that early in a training plan, you need to work on your stabilizers so you can hold your body in the correct position while running. The Stability phase lays the foundation for the next phases and fits perfectly with the workouts early in your training plan.

Phase 2 – Strength

After building stability early in your training plan, your strength training plan will now advance to the Strength phase. Now that you are stable, let’s get strong! Similar to your run training plan, you’ll build the strength to get you to the finish line. As with the Stability phase, the Strength phase contains two programs – Program A and Program B – and we’ll tell you which to perform and when.

Phase 3 – Power & Peaking

Later in your running and strength training plan, it’s about translating the strength you built early into power for fast racing. Phase 3 includes the exercises that help bring your strength training to a peak just as you are bringing your run training to a peak. Then, we’ll show you exactly how to taper your strength training like you do your run training so you are ready for a peak running performance!

BONUS – Maintenance Phase

Another key benefit of the Strength in Stride program is that when you complete your race, you’ll move to the Maintenance phase to make sure you maintain your fitness gains while you are in between race plans.

Workout Details: In each phase, you’ll enjoy two different programs and we’ll tell you exactly which program to do when. You’ll start with lower reps and sets and progress to more reps and sets. Expect to spend between 10 and 20 minutes on each routine (shorter when starting each phase and longer at the end of each phase). You should do this routine 1-3 times per week. The end goal is to have a strength program that works with not against your running program. And because each program and each phase is different, you stay motivated for the next session.

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  • Running-specific exercises
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FAQs

After you sign up, you’ll be sent an activation email. You’ll then access the Strength in Stride page (just go to the My Videos button at the top of the website) and all the instructional videos and exercise progressions for each phase are listed there.

As the name suggests, you and I will do the routine together. I’ll instruct you on the exercise to do and just like if we were in the gym together, I’ll lead you through the full routine. There are three follow along workouts for each stage. You’ll use the first follow along workout early in the phase then move to the second and finally to the third follow along workout. This way, you keep your body progressing and you never get bored from just doing the same exercise in the same way over and over.

There are four phases in Strength in Stride. Phase 1 focuses on stability. Phase 2 focuses on Strength. Phase 3 focuses on Power and Phase 4 is the maintenance phase for when you are between race plans. Each phase has two programs within it and Coach Angela varies the programs to keep your body adapting at optimal levels.

The early stages last 10-20 minutes and the latter stages (where you are stronger and do more work) are 20-30 minutes.

One to three times per week is ideal. The point of having all the routines and progressions within the routine is to keep you from becoming bored. I want you to establish a habit of doing ancillary training like core training. This way, after you build your strength, you’ll continue to injury-proof your body so you can keep running strong for years to come.

The main equipment used in your own body weight. However, there are a few exercises where a stability ball (you know those big round balls), a medicine ball, a resistance band and a hand weight (dumbbell, etc.) are used.

No. You can do this in the comfort of your own home (or hotel room if traveling). But, you can access this routine on any device (phone, tablet, laptop, etc.) so if you wanted to do it in the gym, you could just pull up the page, start following along with the routine!

Yes! This is not just a video for you to follow. This is a strength training system and we’re here to help if you need it.