Kettlebell Training for Runners


The news that strength training can be a helpful training tool for runners has spread thru the popular running magazines. But, what type of strength training - machines or free weights, heavy resistance with low repetitions or lightweights with high repetitions?


The research on these issues is somewhat sparse. There are a number of studies demonstrating that core training can help prevent an injury or help you recover from an injury. This training usually uses lower weight (or bodyweight) and higher repetitions. Recently a group of researchers in Norway had competitive runners perform 4 sets of 4 maximal half squats (using free weights) for 8 weeks and found that their running efficiency improved by 5%. This demonstrates that with heavy (maximal) free weight squat training running efficiency can be improved.


Now enters the new kid on the block - kettlebells. They aren't exactly new but they have recently moved in. Many people have described kettlebells as being like a cannon ball with a handle. Kettlebells were initially used by Russian athletes back in the 70's when they dominated the power events in track and field as well as the weight lifting events. They have recently become popular in the United States among mixed martial arts competitors, power lifters and even in aerobics classes.


So, how can kettlebells help a runner? The handle of a kettlebell makes it easier to swing and also increases the angular momentum - this provides a dynamic training approach that is a perfect fit for runners. Running is a dynamic sport of constant motion and adjustments to varied running surfaces. With a moderate weight (4kg for women and 8kg for men) you can get an excellent workout that will improve your core fitness level, leg strength, balance and coordination. This blend will result in increased efficiency and resilience to injury.


For a kettlebell training DVD designed specifically for runners check out " Kettlebell Training for the Running Athlete".



Bryan Whitesides MPT, OCS

Physical Therapist

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