Weight Training

Big ole disclaimer: I am definitely not an expert on weights. I’ve had quite a few requests for me to share some of my gym routine, so here are a few of my favorite free weights exercises. I’m sure my form needs improvement. Like many runners, weights have intimidated me and I’m still learning. Over the last year, I’ve made a lot of efforts to get a stronger, toned upper body. These exercises have worked for me:)

With that said…let’s lift!


Bicep Series: I do these first three exercises as a series…25 bicep curls, straight into 25 side curls, followed by arms at 90 degree angle and tap the weights 50 times.  Don’t take a break between exercises.  My arms feel like jello after.  For the sake of time, I just did a few of each exercise in the video.

[wpvideo w68vHPt8]


Shoulder Shrugs.  Self explanatory.  I add in heel lifts when I shrug. (50 reps)

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Squat Upward Rows.  To add intensity, go up on your toes between squats. (2 sets.  50 reps each)

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Weightlifting Meme Dance

Oblique Side Bend.  Really use your core to retract…don’t swing.  (50 reps per side)

[wpvideo 6imljtpw]


Here are some Common Strength Training Misconceptions for Runners:

MYTH 1: Runners don’t need to lift weights. To get stronger, run more.

TRUTH: Running–and the optimal balance of volume, intensity and pace-specific work–will always be the primary focus of a distance runner’s training program. And rightly so. Strength training, however, presents a different physiological stimulus, one that includes a host of distinct benefits that running doesn’t provide, but which are crucial to health and optimal performance.

Strength training works two ways: It prevents injuries, and it enhances performance. Properly performed, strength training provides the foundation for injury-free running and the ability to adhere to the regimen of mileage, speed and tempo work. Numerous studies have proven that strength training will enhance running performance.

MYTH 2: Lift on your off or easy days to balance your hard-run efforts.

TRUTH: It is optimal to piggyback strength-training workouts with quality runs. For example, do a tempo run in the morning, followed by a 20- to 30-minute strength workout at noon or evening. This work complements the training effect of the running, then you fully recover from both on easy days.

MYTH 3: You need to strength train several times a week to see benefits.

Truth: A very small amount of strength training can stimulate tremendous benefit. Strength train only once or twice per week. More is not better. The total weekly strength-training time commitment should be 30–60 minutes.

MYTH 4: The key area to work on is the core; running works all other areas.

TRUTH: Research indicates that upper-body, lower-body and midsection strength training all contribute to improved running performance. You should do exercises that involve all of the major muscle groups. Rather than specifically strengthening an area that you assume is weak, you are better off developing strength in all muscle groups, which will create balance and synergy.


2015…let’s do this!


Do you incorporate weights into your training?  How often?

Do you do free weights, machines, or both?

Tell me about your Wednesday workout…run, gym, crosstraining?



Join the Conversation

  • Amy

    Thanks for this post! I’ve got to get back in the weights again! Love the gifs!!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Thanks!! I’m definitely still learning:)

  • suzysuzyheather

    Myth #3 is a good one for me to remember. I had assumed that weight training would be too much of a time commitment! Good to know. Thanks for all the info!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy


  • http://www.rainbowrunclub.com Jenny

    Jen! I’ve been reading your blog for a bit and somehow just noticed you’re in Nashville! I live about 70 miles north of you in Kentucky but drive to Nashville for work twice a week. :) It’s so nice to see a run blog in the same geographic area as me!! :) LOL! Are you doing the Hot Chocolate 15k this saturday by any chance??!!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      My husband is from Franklin, KY! I’m training a group for CMM and we do our long runs on Saturday, so I won’t be running hot chocolate. It looks like a blast!

      • http://www.rainbowrunclub.com Jenny

        Yeah, I’m in gold ‘ole BG. :) Go big blue!!!! Aw, that’s too bad. Yes, my best friend and I did HC15k last year nad we’re doing it again this year. The best part are the goodies at the end. Hopefully our paths will cross at a future race! :)

  • http://techchickadventures.com TechChick

    Great post! I have always found weight lifting to be an area of questions for me – what should I do, how often, how many times… and you nailed them all!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      It’s always intimidated me!

  • http://www.runningnreading.com Running ‘N’ Reading

    Thank you, Jen; these will definitely be helpful to me, since I’m really a newbie to strength training. I’ve done lots of fitness DVDs over the years that incorporate weights to build strength, mostly because I never know what to do on my own. This is a great routine I can do at home in a minimal amount of time! I took a strength training “class,” at the gym, last Sunday (Body Pump) and I really enjoyed that; I’m going to try to stick with it. Wednesday Workout? 4.5 mile run on a hilly route; I need it!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      I love Body Pump class…so much fun and it kicks my butt!!

  • danielle

    this is SUCH an awesome post! i continously struggle with weight training and how much, how often, and why… so I seriously needed this today! iwhen i had a coach, she got me doing weights twice a week and i stuck to it. i’m a good student! but that was 3 years ago and i’ve totally let that sanity fall by the wayside.
    this past year during the last 3 months of my marathon training i was doing body pump twice a week and then lifting on my own 1 or 2 additional times. by the last few weeks of my training i was super burnt out and got a pesky calf and achilles injury! i have such a hard time knowing where to draw the line.
    i’m going to read your post a few times so i can remind myself that i don’t need to go bonkers with the weights if i’m trying to really be a stronger runner. right now i can’t even run more than 1-2 miles safely, so i really need to care more about my body and foundation.
    thanks for this great post and awesome reminders! i might even do these workouts tonight versus body pump, i’m just not in the mood for that music today anyway 😀 happy joyful wednesday!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      It’s so hard to find the right balance. I struggle with it, too. Body pump is a great class and it kicks my butt! Have an awesome day!!!

      • danielle

        just had to share that i did your workout and added in your core workout last night and LOVED it!!!! do you have any other core moves that you like? i had some spinal surgery and have a hard time with the side planks and anything ‘twisty’ for obliques. i did some bicycle crunches instead but just wondered if you had anymore good ones up your sleeve :) also, i loved the plank piyo move where you touch your ankle then elbow. who knew that’d be my fav??? thanks Jen!

        • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

          Wow…you rock!! I love V Sit-Ups. Would that put too much pressure on your spine?

      • danielle

        V-situps, great idea. I can do those, just not very gracefully lol haha! thank you!

  • http://leerunsdistances.wordpress.com FLRunnerBoy

    Excellent posts Jen!! I do incorporate weights into my training and I tend to use the machines primarily. Ummmm today’s workout … 3 mile easy run on the roads then to the gym for an ab circuit, time on the hip abduction machine, ending with 20 minutes of active stretching. Also, stretching was incorporated between each station in the ab circuit. :) And finally as always you posts always bring a smile to my face with the funnies that you put into them. Jen really does bring “joy” lol :)

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      The machines really intimidate me. I’m learning to be comfortable in the gym…baby steps:)

      • http://leerunsdistances.wordpress.com FLRunnerBoy

        I get you I’m just now learning my way around the equipment and it’s still a work in progress

  • Catherine

    Jen I’m a daily reader of your blog. Your such an inspiration, I’m a much slower runner than you I average 7.50 minute miles. I love your videos today and your ones from the core workout. Keep on blogging I look forward to your post each day. Thank you

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      Thank you so much for your encouragement!! Your kind words mean so much to me:)

  • http://cookiecentral.wordpress.com cookiecentral

    I love weights! Mostly I stick to free weights, but have been incorporating cable machines more and more lately. Below is my typical training for the week (for this month anyways).

    M – core circuits, 5-6 easy
    T – bis, Tris, abs, track
    W – recovery run (5-6), gym rest day
    T – shoulders, back, abs, longrun
    F – core cicuits, 6-7 easy
    Sat – Tempo, all over light weights
    Sun – 4-6 easy/day off

    I stretch everyday and super set my weights with legs (because I’ve yet to find a good day in my running schedule to incorporate a leg day!).

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      That’s an awesome training schedule!!

  • http://charissarunning.wordpress.com charissarunning

    Strength training is so important. Your lifting is – WOW! I can tell you’ve made strength training a big priority in your training.
    I much prefer free weights.

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy


  • http://willrunforpizza.wordpress.com willrunforpizza

    I just recently switched from doing strength classes, to doing TRX & lagree for strength. Wow. Major difference & such a game changer!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      I love TRX!!!

  • Bonnie

    Thanks for this Jen, I was in a lifting rut and needed some new ideas. Did all your moves today!

    • http://jenchoosesjoy.com jenchoosesjoy

      I’m so glad you liked them!!!!