For endurance athletes, strength training provides many benefits when used in conjunction with a cardio training plan.
There are many misconceptions around strength training, such as the fact that it causes gym-goers to “bulk up”. For an endurance athlete, this could be synonymous with being “slowed down”, but this isn’t the case; for years, leading endurance athletes all over the world have integrated strength training programmes that include weight lifting into their regimes and have enjoyed huge success as a result.
“In endurance competition, individuals who come from a strong resistance training background but have never participated in endurance sports may have a leg-up on those who have never lifted weights before, because they are accustomed to a variety of lifting protocols including power type exercises and plyometrics,” writes Travis M. Erickson, MS, CSCS. “These athletes may, therefore, be able to successfully enter the fun and personally challenging realm of competitive athletics again even though their football or track and field days are long gone. Although resistance training is not a panacea for all athletes, if one is serious about taking his or her training to the highest level, even the endurance athlete has to seriously consider how resistance training can positively influence performance.”
Why should endurance athletes do strength training?
Building muscles will help give you the power you need to be fast and to generate the necessary force to go over high obstacles.
All of this translates to a stronger performance in any endurance race you choose to undertake. Beyond this, there are a number of other reasons why it makes sense to make lifting and weight training part of your preparation..
Building muscle burns fat
If you want to trim down and lose body fat in a bid to better your PB, building muscle through weight training can help you do just this. Weight training exercises burn calories and fat, all while building and toning muscle. It also helps maintain levels of muscle and increases metabolism, which can help to lower rates of body fat.
Weight training can prevent injury
Resistance training strengthens muscles, and the stronger the muscles, the better the likelihood they can stand up to injury. Not only this, stronger muscles can also repair faster from an injury and perform better following rehabilitation.
Strength training can improve endurance
Whether it’s long distance biking, running, obstacle courses, hiking, climbing or any other endurance activity, as an athlete, you need to have the strength and stamina to see it through from start to finish. Muscles strengthened by resistance training are more efficient than weaker muscles, therefore allowing athletes to perform using a higher percentage of their aerobic capacity for a longer period of time.
It can improve your posture
Strengthening muscles in the lower back and core can help increase your posture, especially beneficial if you’re running. This will improve both your running economy and your form, helping you to become more efficient and powerful as you tackle longer distances.
It can better your mental strength
Adapting strength training can help you set new goals for yourself, which can in turn help better your psychological state. You can continue your journey to bettering your body through training through a session of weights at the gym, even if you can’t get out and train or perform in endurance events as you normally would in the winter months. This can lead to you feeling stronger and better for having continued to take care of your body, and the results of this off-season training can help you feel more focussed and positive once you get back out doing what you love.
For endurance athletes, strength training is a valuable tool that can improve weaknesses, better your mental and physical capacity, and help you to become a more well-rounded athlete.
Whether you’re in search of ways to keep fit and maintain your athleticism during the winter months/off season or want to integrate some cross training into your preparation ahead of an upcoming endurance race, there are many positive arguments to be made for integrating strength training and lifting into your regime.