Put down the pink dumbbell and pump some real iron! Heavy weights help you get leaner and run faster.


Consider this a PSA: No matter how much weight you lift, you will never look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ever.

An underlying fear of developing bulky “man muscles” causes many women runners to steer clear of the weight room. Or, if they do start lifting, they’ll stick to 2-pound dumbbells, nervous to pick up anything heavier. We’re here to set the record straight: Our much lower testosterone levels mean that women cannot build the same kinds of guns as guys.

The benefits you will reap? A leaner, stronger, faster body. Studies show that lifting substantial weight just twice a week will lower your body fat by an amazing three percent. Also, balancing your running with resistance training that targets complementary muscles will help you prevent injury and become more resilient to the stresses of training.

Performing many repetitions of an exercise with a lighter weight is not optimal for runners. Instead, lift heavier weights for fewer repetitions to recruit more muscle fibers, which will improve both power and endurance. The following exercises, when performed two times per week, can correct muscle imbalances, prevent injury and help you feel stronger with every step.

Aim for 1 to 3 sets of 4 to 8 reps (resting for as long as you need between each set to encourage good form).

Proceed with Caution

Lifting heavy weights can be hazardous if not done correctly.

-If you are new to lifting, have a trained professional evaluate your form.

-Warm up first with 10 to 15 minutes of light cardio (e.g., elliptical machine, walking, stationary bike).

-Cool down after your strength workout with 10 minutes of light stretching.

-Don’t do too much, too soon! Spend four weeks using the same weight with proper form before trying to increase the weight or repetitions.

-If you are training for a big race, stop strength training two weeks before race day and switch your focus to recovery and stretching.

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Bench Step-Up

(A) Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Step on the bench with your right foot. Press through your heel to engage your right glute and raise your body over the bench, keeping your left knee and hip in line with your ankle. (B) Tap your left foot on the bench, then lower your left leg to the floor, followed by your right leg. Repeat the movement, stepping on the bench with your left leg. That’s one rep.

Bicep Curl with Shoulder Press

(A) Hold dumbbells in each hand with your arms at your side and palms facing forward. (B) Perform a bicep curl until the dumbbells are at your shoulders, then rotate the weights so your palms face front. (C) Exhale and press the dumbbells overhead until your arms are almost (but not completely) straight. Slowly lower the weights to your shoulders, rotate your wrists, and continue lowering to the start position. That’s one rep.

Deadlift with Reverse Lunge

(A) Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding a dumbbell in each hand. (B) With your back straight, bend at the waist as you push your hips back, lowering the weights toward your feet. Exhale as you use your hamstrings to bring the dumbbells back up to your hips. (C) Then perform a reverse lunge with your right leg. Return to the start position and repeat the deadlift followed by reverse lunge on your left leg. That’s one rep.

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Butt Blaster

(A) Place your hands and knees on the ground with a dumbbell in the crook of your left knee and your left foot flexed. (B) Use your glute muscle to raise your leg off the ground. Your foot should stay  at toward the ceiling. Lift the weight until your knee is almost parallel with your back and return to the start position. That’s one rep. Complete all reps on the left side and then switch to the right.

Barbell Row

(A) Lie on your stomach on a decline bench positioned at a 45-degree angle. Place your toes on the ground so that your body is in a straight line. Grab a barbell with both hands, palms facing toward the back of the room. (B) Lift the bar toward your chest until it almost touches the underside of the bench. Slowly return to the start position. That’s one rep.

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