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Runners need to lift heavy

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Strength is crucial for speed.

Movement sparks progress. For high performers, this forward momentum is powered by currents in science, technology, and subculture. To celebrate the launch of ASICS GEL-CUMULUS® 21, Furthermore and ASICS have partnered to harness the power of these currents and show you how to channel them into actual results.

Bodyweight exercises and light dumbbells aren’t enough for runners looking to cross-train for injury prevention and optimal performance. Instead, experts are realizing that in the off-season, it’s best for them to challenge themselves with tools they may not have used before, such as heavy kettlebells and barbells.

As a result, you’ll start your next training cycle stronger and faster than ever. “Lifting can make you more resilient to the stress of running and improve economy and power, particularly when it comes to hills or the final sprint of a race,” says Matt Berenc, director of education at the Equinox Fitness Training Institute in Beverly Hills.

Though your legs absorb most of the impact, it’s full-body strength you’re after, explains Adrianne Nina, a Tier 3+ trainer at West Hollywood in California who often works with marathoners. Strong hamstrings and glutes allow for full hip extension, which promotes follow-through. As the glute on one side powers a forward step, the opposite lat is engaged in swinging the arm backward. Lifting also develops the core stability needed for shifting your balance from one leg to the other. Together, all this strength helps you speed up.

Nina adds: The most common injuries in runners are related to hamstrings and adductors (inner thighs) in the form of pulls and tears. Going heavy will eliminate the weaknesses that cause those ailments.

For all these reasons and more, elites are spending more time on the strength floor—and you should, too. That’s why Nina devised this four-week heavy lifting program specifically for runners. Complete it between training cycles, such as in the weeks after Boston and before you start prepping for Chicago or New York. If you want to do it when your mileage is higher, Nina suggests performing a few exercises before each run, using lighter loads than those recommended in each workout below.

We’ll roll out each week’s routine one by one. You can find them all here.

Week 1 workout
Week 2 workout
Week 3 workout
Week 4 workout