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Effects of Strength Training on Running Economy in Highly Trained Runners: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials

Balsalobre-Fernández, Carlos1; Santos-Concejero, Jordan2; Grivas, Gerasimos V.3

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: August 2016 - Volume 30 - Issue 8 - p 2361–2368
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001316
Brief Review

Balsalobre-Fernández, C, Santos-Concejero, J, and Grivas, GV. Effects of strength training on running economy in highly trained runners: a systematic review with meta-analysis of controlled trials. J Strength Cond Res 30(8): 2361–2368, 2016—The purpose of this study was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials to determine the effect of strength training programs on the running economy (RE) of high-level middle- and long-distance runners. Four electronic databases were searched in September 2015 (PubMed, SPORTDiscus, MEDLINE, and CINAHL) for original research articles. After analyzing 699 resultant original articles, studies were included if the following criteria were met: (a) participants were competitive middle- or long-distance runners; (b) participants had a V[Combining Dot Above]O2max >60 ml·kg−1·min−1; (c) studies were controlled trials published in peer-reviewed journals; (d) studies analyzed the effects of strength training programs with a duration greater than 4 weeks; and (e) RE was measured before and after the strength training intervention. Five studies met the inclusion criteria, resulting in a total sample size of 93 competitive, high-level middle- and long-distance runners. Four of the 5 included studies used low to moderate training intensities (40–70% one repetition maximum), and all of them used low to moderate training volume (2–4 resistance lower-body exercises plus up to 200 jumps and 5–10 short sprints) 2–3 times per week for 8–12 weeks. The meta-analyzed effect of strength training programs on RE in high-level middle- and long-distance runners showed a large, beneficial effect (standardized mean difference [95% confidence interval] = −1.42 [−2.23 to −0.60]). In conclusion, a strength training program including low to high intensity resistance exercises and plyometric exercises performed 2–3 times per week for 8–12 weeks is an appropriate strategy to improve RE in highly trained middle- and long-distance runners.

1Department of Physical Education, Sport and Human Movement, Autonomous University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain;

2Department of Physical Education and Sport, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain; and

3Department of Physical Education and Sport Science, University of Thessaly, Trikala, Greece

Address correspondence to Carlos Balsalobre-Fernández, carlos.balsalobre@icloud.com.

Copyright © 2016 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.