Jan
20

5 Benefits Of Strength Training For Endurance Athletes…But They Still Won’t Lift Heavy Things!

By
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.
 

10 Comments

1

Hi Nick,
Excellent article. I have always found this to be a particular problem (the amount of endurance athletes that class there BW circuits as strength training is scary!). I think the pro's you highlight for strength training are exactly what coaches need to get across to their athletes and also remind them how difficult it is to put bulk on!
Keep up the good work!

2

Great choice of picture there mate! Am i right in thinking that guys shoulders are bigger than his head, and his arms are bigger than his chest! Is that human! 
Nice article, important to keep hammering it home i think!

3

I’m glad you like the photo Brendan! I’m baffled by the amount of misinformation that still exists within the endurance community regarding strength training. They are missing such a simple piece of the jigsaw.

4

Ross, thanks for the comment, still baffled by lack of understanding of the benefits of strength training for endurance athletes.

5

Many seem to look at hills and harder intervals as the 'strength training' aspect of their training in my experience, which I can accept, but general strength development can help in many other ways as you described. That whole specificity thing again, if its not running its no good!!

6

they’ve been hijacked by the specificity militia and have failed to notice that transfer of training effect is far more important than specificity. Train the person, not the sport.

7

As S&C coaches we have got to see the benefits of this.
Endurance events are a massively untapped market, but they won't come to us. This article hits the nail on the head, but it will be read mostly by other S&C coaches rather than the athletes and coaches we want it to reach.
"I ran a clinic recently for runners and every single runner had been injured or had an injury….."
What a great way to get through to them! Meet them face to face in their community and show them our value. Show them we understand and care about their sport.
Their perception is that we live in a gym training people who want to be Men's Health cover models. We need to prove otherwise if we want to be accepted into their community.
We know how much difference we can make, but need to provide concrete proof to leave them with no question that strength training will provide the solutions to their individual issues.
We know what their reservations are going to be. 
How did you get on with your clinic Nick? Blew them away a bet. 

8

Rob,
I run the clinics at a local running shop and they have become a monthly session. I talk about a range of topics and it’s always a good night.You’re right, you have to meet them on their own turf.
Nick

9

[...] Couldn’t have said it better myself on the importance of strength work for endurance athletes. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged endurance., Strength. Bookmark the permalink. ← 5 Great pulling movements. [...]

10

[...] duration endurance events. So, we will be focusing a lot on runners, bikers, and triathletes, who all should know the benefits of strength training, but aren’t often found in the gym doing any…. While I understand the mindset of “I need to be logging miles/laps in order to improve my [...]

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