Why Strength Training Matters for Runners

by Jessica Cassity

photo by Riccardo Tinelli photo by Riccardo Tinelli Those gazellelike creatures who effortlessly zip through the park have a secret: strength training. Here's why these five fast firmers work.

Sculpted Upper Body: Yes, a buff back and arms are hot. Combined with a lower-body routine, they can also help you quicken your pace by 4 percent, research shows.

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Hard Core: Tight abs improve posture. Why you care: An upright stance will help you easily pick up speed. Runners who did ab work for six weeks ran more efficiently, shaving 42 seconds off 5K times, a Barry University study reports.

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Strong Hamstrings: What makes running really tough? Getting hurt. Shore up the muscles in the backs of your legs and you may prevent injury, studies suggest.

Toned Thighs: When distance runners added squats to their strength workouts, they could run 21 percent longer and were 5 percent faster, Norwegian researchers found.

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