How Can Strength Training Help?
For most endurance athletes the benefits of strength training are outweighed by the fear of gaining too much bulk, loss of flexibility and diminished "feel" of their sport.
Let’s get one thing clear right now, strength training for endurance athletes is not about developing a ‘beach body’ or turning you into a muscle bound hulk. I can promise you that getting down to the gym to strength train for two or three times a week will make you stronger in your event (running, cycling, swimming, adventure racing). I’ve worked with enough endurance athletes to know that a good strength training programme will not only make you stronger and faster but will help you to remain injury free.
Still not convinced? Here’s the top 5 training benefits that can be yours in exchange for just two to three short strength training sessions each week.
1. Increased power output – the fastest person wins the race, right. To be fast you need to be powerful. To be powerful you need to be able to generate force. So it doesn't matter if you are splashing around in a pool or running the streets, you need to be able to put down more power which will translate to higher speeds on the tarmac or in the pool.
2. Power up those hills – if you are a runner you will know that there’s no such thing as a fast flat course and if you want to see how a race can be won or lost on the hills watch a clip of Fraser Cartmell destroying Stephen Bayliss on the final hill in an Ironman 70.3 event.
3. Increase the strength of your swim stroke – maybe running and cycling isn't your thing but by simply developing increased strength levels you'll be able to grab hold of the water and pull yourself through and watch how your stroke count drops.
4. Improved endurance – we don’t all have lungs like dustbin liners and hearts to match so there will be genetic limitations as to how much you can improve your aerobic capacity. Strength training will improve your muscular strength and endurance helping you become more efficient, which means you will be able to work at a higher percentage of your aerobic capacity for longer. Become efficient at what you do.
5. Banish those aches and pains – strength training will improve your gross athleticism making you a more robust athlete, allowing you to withstand the training demands placed on your body and helping you steer clear of injuries. I ran a clinic recently for runners and every single runner had been injured or had an injury….actually that's not correct, one lady wasn't injured but she had only taken running up 2-weeks before the clinic (only a matter of time then!). Same goes for cyclists with knackered knees and backs and swimmers with shoulders that are constantly pulsating with pain.