Strength training for endurance athletes

 Strength training for endurance athletes

 

For endurance athletes running is often an obsession. The clients I work with who run on a regular basis tell me all about the runners high and how much they love the sport.

 

Personally I prefer interval sprinting for fat loss but I too will go for a run on occasion and truly enjoy the benefits of exercising in the outdoors on a beautiful day.

 

However when it comes to training for endurance events such as marathons many runners make a critical error- they neglect strength training.

 

Strength training should be a part of every runners training program for a variety of reasons;

 

Strength training counteracts the muscle wasting often found with high volume aerobic activity

Frequent running often results in muscle and bone loss. Regular bouts of heavy lifting using compound exercises such as dead lifts, squats etc performed using significant loads (6-12 rep range or less) will counteract this muscle loss. Runners needn’t worry about bulking up either as the volume of aerobic activity makes muscle gain near impossible. The resistance training is meant to prevent muscle loss while maintaining strength and promotes improvements in body composition and bone density.

 

Strength training will help to keep you injury free

A well designed lifting program can help to prevent or correct muscle imbalances that often occur in runners. Problems such as weak glutes and hamstrings are not uncommon and runners often have unilateral muscle imbalances where one leg is stronger than the other. These issues can result in poor running economy and injury. A lifting program that includes unilateral movements such as Bulgarian split squats, single leg Romanian dead lifts as well as glute ham raises can help to strengthen the weak links and the posterior chain.

 

Strength training will strengthen your core

A strong core will improve the power transfer from arms to legs increasing performance. Lifting heavy loads in exercises such as squats and dead lifts is the best way to accomplish this. Contrary to popular belief, exercises such as Bosu ball crunches and stability ball planks are NOT the best way to improve core strength. Forget what the Yoga addict or core crazy trainer at your local gym is telling you- performing 6 reps of heavy squats will challenge your core a whole lot more than performing a 2 minute one legged plank!

 

Strength training promotes  hormonal health

Long duration cardio is associated with high cortisol levels and poor insulin sensitivity. Runners need to consume lots of carbs to fuel their activity and replenish glycogen. A high carb diet combined with poor insulin management will result in increased body fat and increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Strength training improves insulin management and will increase production of anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone.

 

Strength training reduces exercise induced oxidative stress

Running for long distances creates a significant amount of oxidative stress on the body. Research shows that resistance training lowers exercise- induced oxidative stress and homocysteine levels resulting in lower cortisol levels.

 

Strength training will NOT decrease your V02 max

Some people fear that lifting weights will somehow diminish their aerobic capacity. This fear is unfounded so long as rest intervals remain relatively short. When long  rest intervals are used they can have the effect of reducing aerobic efficiency however; this type of adaptation will only happen if a workout using long rest intervals is maintained for a significant period of time. When properly incorporated into a workout program over a short period (3 months or less), the adaptation is mainly neural and will have no chance of negatively influencing an endurance athletes performance.

 

A well rounded athlete is not defined by displaying proficiency in only one area of physical fitness. Unfortunately, it is all too common to find meat heads who lift weights but never do any cardio as well as runners who run daily but never stop to pick up anything heavier than their water bottle.  The ideal fitness program should incorporate a balance of strength, endurance and flexibility components. Plan out your workouts at the beginning of each month and if you are a runner be sure to incorporate a balanced and periodized resistance training program as part of your training.

This post was written by

Bruce – who has written posts on Cutting edge muscle building and fat loss secrets.
bruce krahn is a best-selling author, writer, researcher, personal trainer and professional speaker. he has coached people for two decades both in person and online. he created this site to be an honest source of useful, practical information you can use to improve your health, build muscle, lose fat and get the lean body look.

Email  • Google + • Facebook  • Twitter

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

About

bruce krahn is a best-selling author, writer, researcher, personal trainer and professional speaker. he has coached people for two decades both in person and online. he created this site to be an honest source of useful, practical information you can use to improve your health, build muscle, lose fat and get the lean body look.

3 Responses to “Strength training for endurance athletes”

  1. jane says:

    that is really good information. I will start adding strength training to my running routine. thank you!

  2. Hey There Theleanbody,
    Interesting Post, im quite fast and play on the wing, what would benefit me more?
    I look forward to your next post

    • admin says:

      Not sure if I understand your question. However, suffice to say that training your legs with exercises such as squats, lunges and their many variations will always have benefit.

Leave a Reply