Alberto Salazar on Strength Training For Runners

Aug 23, 2013   //   by James Dunne   //   Strength And Rehab For Endurance Athletes  //  13 Comments

I have to say a big thanks to @smorgasbord who directed me to this great video giving an insight into Galen Rupp’s gym routine, and interesting interview with his coach Alberto Salazar.

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Salazar, head coach at the Nike Oregon Project, which includes Mo Farah and other elite distance runners, explains his philosophy when it comes to the importance of resistance training for runners.

I find it particularly interesting to hear him challenge the low-weight right-reps concept that many runners adhere to, and the fear that many athletes have about ’bulking up’ due to work in the weights room.

It is great to hear Salazar draw the clear link between functional strength work in the gym, and an athlete’s ability to maintain optimal biomechanics on race day – something I believe in strongly.

[Update 27th August 2013]

The Oregon Project’s head strength and conditioning coach, David McHenry shares specific details of an example gym session here.

Video courtesy of

About The Author

James has an academic background in Sport Rehabilitation and a special interest in Applied Biomechanics. He currently coaches a large number of Runners and Triathletes across all levels of ability and performance. He's grown a strong reputation for enabling athletes to improve their running performance and overcome running injuries through improving their Running Technique and developing Running Specific Strength.



  • It would be nice to have a list of the exercises to do and sets and reps….

  • Hi, great article about Alberto Salazar and something I have been trying to get my clients doing for ages. One question, how much of the week will be spent in the gym doing specific strength and conditioning for Mo & Galen?

  • 2 physio comments:
    - be careful with the load and the vertebral torsion together…
    - do the session barefoot :)
    Blaise Dubois, PT (The Running Clinic)

  • Adding to Meghan’s comment. Where can we obtain this training information? The videos are great, but do not provide enough detailed information for anyone to actually put them to good use.

  • I totally agree with the concept here.. the whole body have to be fit, not just your legs.
    As can be seen by the exercises, many were stretch/strength/power exercises of the legs.

    I run 3 or 4 times a week and 2 a week in the gym, working on my core and ‘top half’, with a few leg exerciees
    I like to add these leg exercises to my repertoire.. thanks for the info!

  • I didn’t see any non-high rep strength training in that video. I was expecting some low-rep strength work, not that there is anything wrong with high-rep stability/core work. I feel it has it’s place, but since the claim was he was challenging low-rep strength training fears I was expecting to see some low-rep strength training. 10-20 reps is not low rep IMO (4-6 reps is)

    • Hi Willem, I think the point Salazar is trying to get across is the difference between working in the 20+ rep range versus 8-12 reps. Sure, most athletes could benefit from a periodised training block spent working on ‘proper’ strength work (4-6 reps, heavy), regardless of their sport – but for distance athletes, I’d have to question how sport specific this would be for their particular needs.

      What I take from Salazar’s comments is that using moderate resistance for 8-12 reps is more likely to stimulate a positive training effect in runners than the typical light resistance for 20+ reps.

  • [...] per week with the Salazar athletes. This was highlighted in a recent post by James Dunne of, which drew attention to the McHenry exercise routines detailed in earlier Running Times and [...]

  • […] is based on a small amount of empirical evidence and expert opinion for example Alberto Salazar ( However significant links have been found between resistance training and injury prevention […]

  • […] is making his athletes in the Oregon Project work on strength training you know it is essential! [Video of Salazar and Rupp on Strength Training - the audio is grainy but it's worth the […]

  • Where can I find myself in strong and you can find this view part:

    interesting: ‘challenge the low-weight right-reps concept that many runners adhere to, and the fear that many athletes have about ’bulking up’ due to do strenght training.
    The link between functional strength work in the gym, and an athlete’s ability to maintain optimal biomechanics on race day’

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