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Running And Strength Training Workout Plan


Weightlifting & Running Speed | Running & Gym Gains | Benefits Of Running & Strength Training | Tips & Advice | Running & Strength Training Workout Plan

Running and weightlifting are often thought of as two separate entities – running as a cardiovascular exercise which is often taken up to lose weight, improve heart health, and increase aerobic capacity and endurance, while strength training is seen as a practice that focuses on building muscle strength, size, and power.

It’s a common misconception that combining these two types of training ‘cancels out’ the benefits each provides, but in this blog Zach Kingsbury, PT and Gym Manager at PureGym Cambridge Grafton explains how running and strength training can actually work together to create the perfect workout schedule. 

Why Do People Think Running And Strength Training Don’t Work Together?

Many runners believe that strength training can limit their running potential, and many weightlifters believe that running will prevent gains. Why is it that so many people think running and strength training are such a bad combination?

While some of this boils down to having different goals (for example, losing weight with running vs gaining weight with lifting), some of it is due to each of these training formats eliciting different responses in the body. 

Does Weightlifting Make You Run Slower?

Strength training works by creating micro-tears in the muscle fibres. As the body repairs these tears, it stimulates growth in size and strength. Some runners believe that weightlifting is problematic in a few ways, including taking time away from running, added weight and mass making it harder to run fast, and recovering from strength training meaning less energy and muscle endurance for runs.

However, the reality is that it takes a lot of time, hard work, and dedication for most people to build bulky muscles, and unless you’re deliberately bulking and eating in a calorie surplus, your weight is unlikely to change, so running speed isn’t going to be affected. In fact, strengthening the muscles involved in running can help to improve running speed and form.

While it is true that running after a particularly heavy gym session might feel more challenging, having a training programme that is properly scheduled and factors in rest will prevent this from being an issue. Over time, increased muscular endurance from strength training will increase your running endurance too.

Does Running Prevent Gym Gains?

Weightlifters believe that running can negatively impact their goals too. One reason for this is that running burns a high number of calories, which reduces the energy available for rebuilding muscle, reducing gains. Recovering from runs is also thought to have a negative effect on recovering from strength training.

While these are not unfounded fears, making sure you get enough rest and are eating enough calories and protein will prevent this from being an issue.

Both running and strength training are physically demanding, and including both in your routine can be problematic if it’s not managed properly, leading to fatigue, poor recovery, and increased risk of injury. However, when done correctly, it can be beneficial to include both running and training in your fitness plan.

So just how can you combine both running and strength training? While there are multiple ways to do this (and we’ve provided more detail how to do so below), listening to your body is key. If you’re feeling fatigued after a long run, this isn’t the best time to try for a PB in the gym. Likewise, if you’re extremely sore after a weight lifting session, a recovery run will be more beneficial than a high intensity or long distance run. Incorporating rest days is also crucial to allow your muscles and energy levels time to recover (we cover more about why rest days are so important here). 

Once you have created a routine that balances these disciplines successfully, your body can adapt to the workload and you can build up the volume and intensity of one or both.

What Are The Benefits Of Combining Running & Strength Training?

When planned properly, strength training and running won’t just not negatively impact each other, but they can actually work together to improve overall health and performance too.

Some of the benefits of including both running and weight/strength training in your workout plans are:

  • Improved running endurance. Strength training helps to build muscular endurance, which means it takes longer before your muscles fatigue on your runs. 

  • Improved lifts. Increasing your cardiovascular endurance can actually improve your

  • Balanced, full body training. Running mainly targets the lower body muscles and cardiovascular system, and if it’s your only form of training, major muscle groups will be neglected. Strength training does allow for all muscle groups to be strengthened but does not work the cardiovascular system. Combining both running and strength training means every muscle group, including the heart, are worked.

  • Better running form. Building lower body strength and power can improve running efficiency, stride power, and stride length, contributing to better form and increased speed.

  • Body composition and weight management. Running is great for burning calories, but for a toned, athletic look, you need to also build muscle. By combining running and strength training you can burn calories and improve cardio fitness while simultaneously building muscle and reshaping your body. 

  • Injury prevention. Strength training is a great way to reduce the risk of injury associated with running. In addition to strengthening the muscles, strength training builds stronger tendons, ligaments, and even bone, helping your body to cope more effectively with the repetitive impact and stress of running. 

Top Tips For Including Running And Strength Training In Your Workout Plan

Ready to get all the benefits mentioned above and combine both running and strength training into your weekly workouts? Try the workout plan below, or if you want to create your own, here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Establish your goals. Your perfect balance of running to strength training will depend on what your goals are. If your main fitness goal is to build strength while maintaining your cardio, you’ll benefit from having more strength sessions than runs. If your goal is to improve your running performance while avoiding injuries, you’ll want to prioritise running, with strength training to supplement.

  2. Plan your schedule. Once you know your goals, map out what your weekly routine looks like. Your schedule should be strategic to allow time for recovery – no putting in long runs the day after a heavy leg session.

  3. Include rest days. Rest and recovery days are just as important as active days in a training schedule. Allow for a full day between working the same muscle group twice and factor at least one full rest day a week. Resting allows the central nervous system, muscles, and ligaments to recover. Without rest, you’re more at risk for injuries and will have less energy for recovery, or for your workouts. A good approach could be alternating your running and strength training days, with your rest day after a lower body strength training workout. This allows different muscle groups to recover between workouts.

  4. Consider combined workouts. You could also pick some activities that combine elements of both running and strength training. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and circuit training can both include running intervals and strength-boosting exercises, saving you time whilst ensuring you get the benefits of both training styles. Just make sure you’re still getting enough recovery between sessions if you go down this route.

  5. Factor in warm-ups and cool downs. For every workout you have planned, make sure to factor in 5-10 minutes before and after to properly warm up with some walking and dynamic stretches, and cool down with some static stretches. This will ensure your body is prepared for your strength training or run, reducing risk of injury and helping to reduce muscle soreness.  

  6. Don’t forget nutrition and hydration. Nutrition plays an important role in fuelling performance and recovery for both running and strength training. Make sure you’re eating enough calories throughout the day, carbs to fuel your workouts, and protein to recover.

  7. Consider expert guidance. If you’re not sure how to create a running and strength training plan, you could start by booking a session with a personal trainer who can help you map out your weekly workouts. 

Example Workout Plan for Running and Lifting

The best workout plan for running and strength training will depend on your current skill levels, goals and lifestyle, but the below can serve as inspiration for your weekly schedule.

  • Monday – medium intensity run

    • Warm-up: Start with a brisk walk or light jog for 5-10 minutes. You can also try these warm up exercises for runners.
    • Run: Aim for a moderate-paced run at a comfortable intensity for your desired time.
    • Cool-down: Finish with a 5-minute walk or gentle jog to gradually decrease your heart rate.
  • Tuesday – lower body strength

    • Warm-up: Perform 5-10 minutes of light cardio (e.g., cycling or jumping jacks) followed by dynamic stretches.
    • Strength exercises: Focus on targeting your lower body muscles.
    • Cool-down: Finish with gentle stretching for your lower body muscles.
  • Wednesday – low-intensity run + upper body strength

    • Warm-up: Start with a brisk walk or light jog for 5-10 minutes.
    • Run: Perform a low-intensity run at a comfortable pace.
    • Strength exercises: Focus on targeting your upper body muscles.
    • Cool-down: Finish with gentle stretching for your upper body muscles.
  • Thursday – rest/ core/ mobility

    You can either take this as a complete rest day to allow your body to recover, or you can work on your mobility with gentle stretching or do some core exercises. You can even do some light yoga which incorporates core strength with this yoga for core strength sequence.

  • Friday – high intensity, max effort run

    • Warm-up: Start with a brisk walk or light jog for 5-10 minutes.
    • Run: Push yourself to perform a high-intensity run, such as interval training or a tempo run. You can incorporate sprints, hill repeats, or a faster-paced run for your desired time.
    • Cool-down: Finish with a 5-minute walk or gentle jog to gradually decrease your heart rate.
  • Saturday – rest/ core/ mobility

    You can either take this as a complete rest day, do some stretching and core work, or do a short recovery run. Make sure you have at least one full rest day across the week.

  • Sunday – lower body strength

    • Warm-up: Perform 5-10 minutes of light cardio (e.g., cycling or jumping jacks) followed by dynamic stretches.
    • Strength exercises: Focus on targeting your lower body muscles.
    • Cool-down: Finish with gentle stretching for your lower body muscles.

If you’d like even more inspiration for how to gain muscle mass and strength, you can check out our How to Build Muscle hub - there are plenty of tips, advice and workouts to try there, including this useful Weight Training for Beginners guide.

Getting started couldn’t be easier than with a PureGym membership - we have 340+ gyms across the UK with top-of-the-range fitness equipment to help you on your muscle-gaining journey. You can even book an appointment with one of our expert personal trainers - they’ll be able to give you all the advice and guidance you need to get strong. 

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