Strength training before or after running?

In the world of triathlon and long distance running, the strength training plays a crucial role in the development of an athlete.

However, a common question arises among athletes: Is it more beneficial to do strength training before or after running?

This decision not only affects performance but also injury prevention and recovery efficiency.

In this article, we'll break down the benefits and considerations of each approach, providing a detailed guide to optimizing your training, especially focused on triathletes, who face the unique challenge of balancing training between swimming, cycling and running.

Additionally, this article will not only explore the benefits of each approach but also offer a look at the counterpoints, providing a balanced perspective on when it might be advantageous to perform strength training before running, under certain circumstances.

Our goal is to provide you with all the information necessary so you can make informed decisions about your training plan.

Strength training in the context of triathlon

Triathlon is a sport that demands a lot on a physical level, combining three disciplines that test different muscle groups.

Strength training, therefore, not only improves power and muscular endurance, but also balances muscle development, essential to prevent injuries.

Differentiating the training needs between runners and triathletes is vital; While runners may focus more on the legs and core, triathletes need a more holistic approach that also strengthens the upper body for swimming and cycling.

Advantages of strength training before running

Performing strength training before running has its advantages, such as increasing muscle power, which can translate into better performance in both running and cycling.

In addition, activating the muscles through strength exercises before running can help improve running technique, since the body is more prepared and active from the beginning.

Although we have explored the advantages of strengthening our muscles before starting to run, it is essential to complement this information with specific exercises that allow you to make the most of this approach.

Below, you'll find examples of exercises designed to activate and prepare your body, ensuring you're ready for every stride.

Examples of Strength Exercises for abefore running

When choosing to perform strength training before running, exercise selection should focus on activating the muscles without inducing excessive fatigue. The goal here is to prepare the body for the race, not to exhaust it.

  • Core Activation: Planks (3 sets of 30 seconds) to strengthen core muscles, which can improve posture and efficiency during running.
  • Low Impact Exercises: Bodyweight squats (3 sets of 15 repetitions) and alternating lunges (2 sets of 10 repetitions per leg) to activate the leg muscles without overloading them.
  • Joint Mobility: Mobility exercises and dynamic stretches, such as arm and hip circles, to prepare joints for movement.

Benefits of doing strength training after running

On the other hand, strength training after running can be key to muscle recovery.

At the end of a running session, the muscles are warm and more receptive to strength exercises, which can contribute to better muscle adaptation in the long term.

In addition, this sequence can help improve muscular endurance, essential for long-duration sports such as triathlon.

Examples of Strength Exercises for After running

Post-race, strength training can focus on building muscle strength and endurance, taking advantage of the fact that the muscles are already warm.

  • Compound Exercises: Deadlifts (3 sets of 10 repetitions) and chest press (3 sets of 10 repetitions) to work several muscle groups simultaneously.
  • Plyometrics: Box jumps (3 sets of 8 repetitions) to improve power and explosive capacity, important for running, cycling and swimming.
  • Specific Strengthening: Bicep curls (3 sets of 12 repetitions) and triceps pulley (3 sets of 12 repetitions) to strengthen the upper body, especially benefiting swimming.

The science behind strength training timing

Planning strength training in relation to running sessions is a topic of extensive debate and study in the sports science community.

Evidence suggests that the timing of strength training can have a significant impact on sports performance, especially in disciplines such as triathlon, where running economy and efficiency are crucial.

Impact of strength training done before running

Studies indicate that performing strength training before running sessions can have short-term negative effects on subsequent running performance.

This phenomenon manifests itself through an increase in the energetic cost of running and a reduction in time to exhaustion.

This suggests that, although strength training is essential for athletic development, its placement before a running session may not be optimal from the perspective of maximizing immediate performance in that running session.

Long-term benefits of strength training

Despite potential short-term negative effects, strength training programs spanning 8 to 12 weeks, with a frequency of 2 to 3 times per week, have been shown to significantly improve running economy in average and average runners. long distance.

These programs range from low to high intensity resistance exercises to plyometric exercises, underscoring the importance of a multifaceted approach to strength training.

Additionally, regularly incorporating strength training into an athlete's training regimen not only contributes to better running economy but also minimizes muscle trauma and prevents injury.

This is especially relevant in the context of triathlon and long distance running, where injury rates are notoriously high due to the repetitive nature of the sport.

Optimizing performance through strength training

An 8-week strength training intervention can improve runners' neuromuscular characteristics, resulting in better performance during the final stages of a 10 km time trial race.

This finding is particularly revealing, as it suggests that strength training may be an effective tool to counteract fatigue and improve overall running performance.

In conclusion, while strength training performed immediately before running may not be ideal due to its short-term negative impact on running performance, strategic integration of a strength training program—preferably performed on separate days or after of running sessions—is essential for long-term improvements in running economy, performance, and injury prevention.

Exploring Counterpoints: Strength Training Before Running

Although it is generally recommended to perform strength training on separate days or after running sessions, there are contexts in which performing it earlier could be advantageous:

  • Low Intensity Days: On days where the running session is designed to be low intensity or recovery, performing moderate strength training beforehand can be beneficial without compromising the quality of the run.
  • Strength and Power Sports Athletes: For athletes competing in disciplines that require high levels of strength and power (such as short sprints), performing strength training before specific running technique sessions can be strategic for the development of specific skills.
  • Adaptation to Metabolic Stress: For experienced athletes, occasionally performing strength training before running can serve as an advanced training method to better adapt to metabolic stress, simulating fatigue conditions in competition.

Frequently Asked Questions about Strength Training and Running Performance

Is it counterproductive to do strength training before running?

Research suggests that strength training performed immediately before a running session can increase the cost of running and decrease time to exhaustion in subsequent sessions, indicating a short-term negative impact on running performance.

However, this does not rule out the effectiveness of strength training itself, but rather highlights the importance of proper planning of the timing of such training.

How does strength training affect running economy?

Well-structured strength training programs, including resistance and plyometric exercises performed 2-3 times per week for 8-12 weeks, have been shown to significantly improve running economy in medium and long distance runners.

This implies that strength training, when incorporated properly, can make each step more efficient, reducing energy expenditure per kilometer.

Can strength training help prevent injuries in runners and triathletes?

Yes. Integrating strength training into a runner's training regimen is crucial to minimizing muscle trauma and preventing injury.

This is due to the ability of strength training to improve the resistance of muscle and tendon tissues to the repetitive demands of running, which is especially important given the high injury rates in these athletes.

Does strength training improve performance in the final stages of a race?

An 8-week strength training intervention has been shown to improve neuromuscular characteristics, allowing runners to maintain a stronger pace during the later stages of a 10km time trial race.

This indicates that strength training can be effective in counteracting fatigue and improving overall running performance.

What is the optimal time to incorporate strength training into your training regimen?

Although performing strength training right before running may not be optimal in the short term, incorporating a regular strength training program, preferably on separate days or after running sessions, is beneficial in the long term.

This allows you to reap the benefits of strength training in terms of running economy, performance and injury prevention, without compromising immediate performance in running sessions.


In short, both performing strength training before and after running has its merits, depending on your specific goals, training phase, and how your body responds to different stimuli.

We've seen that while strength training beforehand can prepare your muscles for activity, doing so afterwards can be crucial for recovery and improving muscular endurance.

The key lies in strategic planning and customizing your regimen to maximize long-term benefits.

We invite you to experiment with both approaches to strength training, either before or after your running sessions, and see how your body responds.

Each athlete is unique, and what works best for one may not be equally effective for another.

 Adjust your training as necessary, always listening to your body and, if possible, seeking guidance from an experienced trainer.

The ultimate goal is to find a balance that allows you to reach your full potential while staying healthy and injury-free.

You can consult more information and articles about strength training on our website


1 Damasceno, M., Lima-Silva, A., Pasqua, L., Tricoli, V., Duarte, M., Bishop, D., & Bertuzzi, R. (2015). Effects of resistance training on neuromuscular characteristics and pacing during 10-km running time trial. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 115, 1513-1522. 2, O., , O., & , O. (2017). Better Distance Running Through Strength Training Minimizing Muscle Truama. IOSR Journal of Research & Method in Education, 07, 01-08. 3- Doma, K., & Deakin, G. (2013). The effects of strength training and endurance training order on running economy and performance. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquee, nutrition et metabolisme, 38 6, 651-6 . 4- Balsalobre-Fernández, C., Santos-Concejero, J., & Grivas, G. (2016). Effects of Strength Training on Running Economy in Highly Trained Runners: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research30, 2361–2368.

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