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Distance Runner, Wants to build muscle mass on rest of body

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I'm on a high school cross country team, and I've heard from almost everyone that cross country and distance runners end up having little upper body strength/ muscle mass.


I don't have much experience in weight training, I use free weights once and a while, but I don't have much of a schedule for it, it's more like whenever I feel like it.


My question is, how can I still build some muscle mass, while staying a distance runner? Is there anything special I should eat, and when should I eat it (not including supplements)? And any other general advice on working out like this would be much appreciated.



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I'm an endurance cyclist - on and offroad - so I face some of the same issues as you. If you look at a lot of cyclists - especially roadies, they lack much muscle in their upper body.


So I do work out my upper body - it prevents injuries when I have mountain bike crashes, and its healthy, prevents osteoporisis, and is functional offroading when you need more upper body strength for technical riding.


You don't want to bulk up too much as it will affect your running, but you do need some strength up there, it helps prevent injuries, and a strong back/core will help you. Since you run a lot I assume, you are not at too much risk of bulking up anyway.


You should do either light weight training more regularly or at least exercises (pushups/pullups to strenghthen) 2 times a week - ie chest/back one day, arms/shoulders another. I really recommend too core work - abs/back with the exercise ball, or without. Mix of crunches/sit ups with ball or not, v-sits, bridges, and so on.


After workouts, have a whey protein shake within 30 minutes after to help replenish & rebuild muscle. Eat a balanced diet - lots of veggies, fruit, lean meats, complex carbs (whole grains, etc). As a runner, you NEED carbs for energy, just choose wise ones most of the time. Right before a race, quick supplies of carbs are okay though, and necessary when you are an endurance athlete.


If you are doing a lot of cardio, you won't get huge...you don't want to as it will make you heavier for running, but you do want to tone, strengthen. Functional strength over aesthetic strength.

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