If you want to run better, don't ignore strength training, says one fitness trainer

Even if you prefer cardio, not going to the gym may be a bad idea, says one fitness trainer.

Many runners mistakenly avoid strength training because they mistakenly believe it will distract or even hinder their performance, says Chris Travis, owner and coach of Seattle's Strength and Performance Club.

"They're told that strength training is bad for running, and it's the opposite," he told Insider.com. "Runners started training with us, and they realized that when they ran less and increased their strength training, they were stronger, felt better on the run and could run faster."

Combining strength training, especially in the legs and core muscles, can make you a better runner by improving speed, endurance and efficiency, Travis says.

Exercises like hip thrusts and leg curls target the gluteus maximus to improve speed and balance
Travis says that while some people are afraid of strength training, the core philosophy of his gym is that everyone can benefit from it, from complete beginners to athletes in other sports.

"People who have never been strength trained before have no idea what to expect. Often times, they don't understand the benefits of strength training and how it will impact their lives."

For runners, strength training helps develop more strength, balance and stability in the lower body, which translates into better speed, greater toughness and lower risk of injury.

Travis recommends that athletes work the posterior chain, the muscles at the back of the leg that include the gluteus maximus and hamstrings, because they typically receive less attention than the quadriceps at the front of the leg.

He says: "People want to use all four dominant forces when they train, but in reality, when you run, the glutes are the largest muscle in the lower body and it will greatly help you run more efficiently."

To work your posterior chain, Travis says, do exercises such as hip thrusts or glute bridges (single- or double-legged), as well as stabilizing ball-leg bends.

Core exercises such as the Pavlovian press and farmer's carry can improve stability and make running more efficient
You may not think of running as a core exercise, but stabilizing your abs is an important part of being able to produce better performance, Travis says.

"When you run, parts of your core help connect your upper body to your lower body. The more we strengthen those areas, the more we increase your endurance and your ability to run faster," he said.

Start practicing some basic movements, such as dead bugs or planks, and then work on side planks, Travis said.

As you progress, Travis recommends training your body to resist rotational core exercises, such as the palaver press or weighted plank support drags.

But your core is more than just abs - healthy hip muscles are a key component in preventing injury and providing stability in running.

Travis says exercises like the Copenhagen Plank Press can help you strengthen your glutes and abdominal muscles.

To light up your entire core, including the gluteus maximus, hips, abs and back muscles, grab some weights, try farmer's backs and walk with a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand.

Another variation is luggage, which has weight on one side only, forcing your body to work harder to maintain balance.

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