The optimal number of strength and conditioning sessions for a runner can vary based on individual factors such as training experience, fitness level, specific goals, and overall workload. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, some general guidelines and evidence-based recommendations can be considered:
Individualisation: Tailor the strength and conditioning programme to the individual needs and characteristics of the runner. Factors such as age, training history, injury history, and current fitness level should be taken into account.
Frequency: The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests that incorporating strength training for major muscle groups should be done at least two days per week for adults. However, for runners specifically, the frequency may vary. Some runners find benefit in performing strength training 2-3 times per week.
Type of Exercises: Focus on compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups, such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, and core exercises. Additionally, include specific exercises that target the muscles involved in running, like the glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
Progression: Start with a manageable workload and progressively increase the intensity, volume, or complexity of exercises over time. This helps prevent overtraining and reduces the risk of injury.
Recovery: Allow adequate time for recovery between strength sessions, especially if the runner is incorporating high-intensity exercises. This may include rest days or lighter workout days.
Consistency: Consistency is key in any training programme. Regularly performing strength and conditioning exercises can lead to better results and help prevent injuries.
Cross-Training: Consider incorporating other forms of cross-training, such as swimming or cycling, which can complement running and provide additional cardiovascular benefits without excessive impact.
Consultation with Professionals: Seeking advice from a qualified strength and conditioning coach or sports physiologist can provide personalised recommendations based on individual needs and goals.
It's important to note that individual responses to strength training can vary, and what works well for one runner may not be optimal for another. Experimenting with different frequencies, exercises, and intensities while monitoring how the body responds can help individuals determine the ideal number of strength and conditioning sessions per week for their specific circumstances.