Strength Training: Improve Power, Efficiency, and Health

Strength Training: Improve Power, Efficiency, and Health

📅July 13th, 2015, 19:55
Pro runner Max King strength training with Joey Jacinto.

Pro runner Max King strength training at Recharge.

Recharge’s strength and conditioning coaches and Focus’s physical therapists teamed up to give an amazing presentation last week on why strength training is so important for endurance athletes in order to improve power, efficiency, and health. 

Endurance athletes need to do more than just run, ride or swim. Strength training can help eliminate weaknesses and compensation patterns that lead to injury… In fact, did you know that statistics put the annual injury rate for runners at a staggering 66 percent? The benefits of strength training for endurance athletes—for both injury reduction and improving performance—are real!

Read further to get a quick recap from Joey and Peter’s seminar and learn how you can benefit from adding more strength work into your training!

Why Strength Train?

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 swimming laps in the pool, riding down the roads, or running through the streets, you need to be able to put down more power in order to reach higher speeds.

Improved Endurance – There will be genetic limitations as to how much you can improve your aerobic capacity. Strength training will improve your muscular strength helping you to become more efficient, which means you will be able to work at a higher percentage of your aerobic capacity for longer. When you become more efficient at what you do, you will be able to waste less energy and be stronger throughout the length of your event.

Banish Aches and Pains – Strength training will improve your gross athleticism making you a more robust athlete, which will allow you to withstand the training demands placed on your body and help you steer clear of injuries. 

Improved Bone Density – Endurance athletes like have a higher risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis…especially females, cyclists, and swimmers. Strength training helps improve bone density and overall bone health, which will enable you to enjoy your sport longer and be healthier!

What does the research say?

  • Aerobic capacity (VO2max): Aerobic capacity improves 6 % with kettlebell snatch training over 4 weeks with just a 15 minute session! (Falatic, et al, 2015, Journal strength and conditioning research)
  • Running economy: 10 weeks of strength training improved running economy in female distance runners without effecting body composition (Johnson, et al, 1997, JSCR).
  • Endurance: 6 weeks of plyometric training resulted in 4% improvement in 2.4km run time (Ramirez-Campillo, et al, 2014, JSCR)
  • Cycling economy: 8 weeks of maximal strength training using squats at 4RM 3x/week improved cycling economy and work efficiency by 4-5% and time to exhaustion by 17% (Sunde, et al, 2010, JSCR). Cycling performance systematic review (Yamamoto, et al, 2010, JSCR) reviewed 5 articles and found that “time to exhaustion” was significantly improved when a portion of the athletes endurance training (ET) was replaced with resistance training (RT) involving high-intensity, explosive exercises. “Despite the limited research on concurrent training (CT) for highly trained cyclists, it is likely that replacing a portion of a cyclist’s ET with RT will result in improved time trial performance and maximal power.”

In Conclusion….

A lot can happen in an endurance race and while training for a longer event…the more tools in your tool belt, the more successful and consistent you will become. You want to have all the tenets of training for maximizing your potential: mobility, stability, athleticism, power, speed, longevity, and endurance. Strength training may be what your training has been missing to help you get to the next level and more out of yourself!