The quest for enhanced running performance in middle- and long-distance runners has long focused on optimizing running economy (RE). A new systematic review with meta-analysis sheds light on how various strength training programs impact RE at different speeds, offering fresh insights for athletes and coaches.
- High Load Training: Improves running economy (RE), especially effective in athletes with high VO2max and at higher running speeds.
- Strength training with high loads (≥ 80% of one repetition maximum) can improve running economy and might be particularly effective in athletes running at high speeds (e.g., > 12.00 km/h) and/or possessing a well developed VO2max.
- Plyometric Training: Beneficial for enhancing RE at speeds less than or equal to 12.00 km/h.
- The combination of two or more strength training methods (e.g., high load training, plyometric training) may induce greater running economy improvement, compared to isolated training methods.
- Submaximal and Isometric Training: Show no significant improvements in RE.
- Study Scope: Analyzes 31 studies involving 652 middle- and long-distance runners.
Deep Diving the new Study
The groundbreaking study, “Effect of Strength Training Programs in Middle- and Long-Distance Runners’ Economy at Different Running Speeds: A Systematic Review with Meta-analysis,” provides an in-depth analysis of how different strength training methods impact the running economy (RE) in middle- and long-distance runners. Here’s a more detailed summary:
Background and Aim: The study aims to ascertain the influence of various strength training methods on runners’ RE. RE is a crucial determinant of performance, indicating the energy demand at submaximal running speeds. Understanding how strength training impacts RE can significantly enhance training effectiveness for runners.
Methods Employed: Researchers conducted a systematic search across several electronic databases, including Web of Science, PubMed, SPORTDiscus, and SCOPUS, considering articles up to November 2022. The study design was comprehensive, involving a range of participants, interventions, comparators, outcomes, and study designs (PICOS criteria). They also employed the GRADE approach for assessing evidence certainty and performed a three-level random-effects meta-analysis using R software.
Study Demographics: The review included studies involving 195 moderately trained, 272 well-trained, and 185 highly trained athletes, encompassing various training levels and durations (6 to 24 weeks) with a frequency of one to four sessions per week.
- High Load Training: Demonstrated moderate evidence of improving RE, with a significant effect on runners at speeds ranging from 8.64 to 17.85 km/h. This method was particularly effective for athletes with higher VO2max levels.
- Plyometric Training: Showed improvements in RE at speeds of 12.00 km/h or less. This training method is beneficial for enhancing RE at lower speeds.
- Combined Methods: Indicated that a combination of two or more strength training techniques, such as high load and plyometric training, could induce a more significant improvement in RE compared to isolated methods.
- Submaximal and Isometric Training: These methods did not show significant improvements in RE, suggesting they may be less effective for this particular athletic population.
Moderators and Influencing Factors: The study also identified that running speed and VO2max were significant moderators in the effectiveness of high load strength training on RE. This indicates that the impact of strength training on RE is not uniform across all speeds and fitness levels.
Implications for Training: These findings have substantial implications for designing strength training programs for middle- and long-distance runners. Coaches and athletes can use this information to tailor strength training to individual needs, focusing on methods that are most likely to improve performance at specific running speeds and fitness levels.
Important Points From The Study
- Methodology: The review included a comprehensive search across multiple databases, adhering to the PICOS criteria and utilizing the GRADE approach for evidence assessment.
- Results: High load and combined training methods showed significant improvements in RE. In contrast, submaximal load and isometric training did not demonstrate notable benefits.
- Moderating Factors: Running speed and VO2max levels were significant factors influencing the effectiveness of high load strength training on RE.
- Training Implications: The study highlights the importance of tailoring strength training methods to the individual needs and performance levels of athletes.
This meta-analysis significantly advances our understanding of strength training’s impact on running economy (RE) in middle- and long-distance runners. It highlights the effectiveness of high load and combined strength training methods, particularly for athletes with higher VO2max levels and those seeking improvements at faster speeds. The study’s detailed findings are crucial for coaches and athletes, offering a roadmap for tailoring training programs to individual needs and performance levels. By indicating the limited benefits of submaximal and isometric training methods on RE, it also guides athletes and coaches towards more effective training strategies. This research not only enriches the academic understanding of athletic training but also provides practical, evidence-based insights for optimizing running performance.
Moreover, the study sets a new direction for future research and training practices. It emphasizes the importance of exploring the intricate relationship between strength training, running speed, and VO2max, underlining the complex nature of athletic performance. For coaches and athletes, this research is a valuable resource, offering strategic insights into enhancing RE, a crucial determinant of running efficiency. In essence, this analysis acts as a catalyst for innovation in training methodologies, encouraging a more nuanced and effective approach to improving endurance running performance.
Top 5 Questions and Answers
What strength training method is most effective for improving running economy?
High load training and combined methods are most effective, particularly at higher running speeds and for athletes with a high VO2max.
Can plyometric training improve running economy?
Yes, plyometric training is effective for improving RE at speeds less than or equal to 12.00 km/h.
Do submaximal and isometric training methods enhance running economy?
No, the study found no significant improvements in RE from these methods.
How does running speed influence the effectiveness of strength training on running economy?
The effectiveness of high load training on RE increases with higher running speeds and higher VO2max levels.
Is it better to use a combination of strength training methods?
Yes, combining different strength training methods may induce greater improvements in RE compared to isolated methods.