I am currently training an ultra-marathoner who runs more than 50k per week. Her main goal is to build strength and gain muscle definition. Nutrition plays a massive role, obviously, and I’m wondering if any of you have had success with this type of situation? Cutting back on the distance running is not an option. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Sean, Nick, Brian and Harris- thanks for the fantastic and extremely helpful responses. This is a new client challenge for me, as the distances she runs and her current nutrition cancel out muscle growth.
We’ve been focusing on kettle bell and traditional weight workouts as well as bodyweight exercises. Harris, I like your suggestion of adding in short workouts while she is running and maybe having her carry some exercise bands.
Her motivation for building muscle is aesthetic, so I realize that nutrition- especially increasing energy intake overall- is going to be critical. Women rarely like to hear that they need to eat more, so this is the hurdle I’m facing now.
Nick, I’m glad that you think 50k/week is manageable; I was concerned that it may be too much!
Thanks again, everyone. This resource is fantastic, especially for a newer fitness trainer like myself. We are indeed lucky to have it!
All of these responses are amazing. We’re lucky to have this resource. Ill add just a little more. Loading the frame is often counterintuitive for endurance athletes and can often create a huge debate. Many trainers will maintain that resistance training stops at body weight. I’m of the opinion that theres a time and a place for everything.
What I would is this. Pay attention to the macro training cycle. Is this preseason etc. Loading in the frame in the “off season” (I know there’s no real off season for ultra marathons). Then reducing the work to frame work or form work during the season.
I am a runner myself and train other runners with goals to increase strength and muscle definition.
You’re right that nutrition will play a huge role in this, especially the muscle definition part. Muscle definition will improve by eating a healthier diet, as well as incorporating exercises that work the upper body and core.
Increasing strength can be done without reducing the mileage as long as they stick to a consistent strength training program.
If the client wants to increase muscle size then it can be difficult to do so while running high mileage. 50k/week should be manageable though as long as the client is really focused on eating A LOT.
I HAVE TRAINED RUNNERS FOR THE BOSTON MARATHON. I HAVE HAD SUCCESS. IN MOST CASES ( SINCE RUNNERS CONTINUE THEIR RUNNING WHILE YOU TRAIN THEM) I DO NOT UTLIZE WEIGHT ON THEIR LEGS. UNLESS, THEY NEED A SPECIFIC MUSCLE STRENGTHENED. I FOUCUS ON THEIR CORE AND UPPER BODY STRENGTH. THIS ALONE CAN IMPROVE THEIR ENDURANCE. THEY INCORPORATE THIS INTO THEIR RUNNING. I THINK TO UTLIZE WEIGHT ON THE LEGS CAN CONDITION MUSCLE FIBER THAT WOULD NOT BENEFIT THEM. I KNOW TO ADD STRENGTH TO CORE AND UPPER BODY WILL MAKE HER RUNNING ERGONOMICALLY CORRECT WHICH WILL GIVE HER MORE ENDURANCE. I USE THE WORD STRENGTH INSTEAD OF DEFINITION BUT, I MEAN THE SAME THING. IF SHE WANTS MORE DEFINITION IN HER LEGS, BE HONEST AND TELL HER IT MAY NOT DO GOOD FOR HER RUNNING. HOW YOU ASS DEFINITION TO HER UPPER BODY AND CORE MUSCLES IS YOUR CHOICE. GOOD LUCK. BRIAN ROZZI.
Here are some ideas for you:
-Kettlebell training would also be a great option for her.
-Do the traditional 2-3x/week strength training with weights.
-Have your client perform a number of bodyweight exercises while she is running (maybe every 1 mile or so). When she is planning her course she could include a few playgrounds into her route (they are great for all king of bodyweight exercises). She could also carry some tubing with her to do some exercises such as squats, squats+presses, pulls, biceps, etc.
-She could wear a weighted vest while she is out for her runs (10-15 lbs should be good enough) and she could also add any of the above exercises into her routine as well.
-Hills are great for increasing stamina and strength. I can come up with a number of other things she could do while doing hills (for example bodyweight exercises for her upper and lower body). She can add the hills while she is out there doing her runs and she could also do this workout while wearing a weighted vest for extra resistance.
I hope this helps.