The Importance of Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

The Importance of Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

📅April 14th, 2015, 13:46

If you’re an endurance athlete who is struggling to break through to the next level, then incorporating a few traditional heavy lifting exercises into your strength training routine could be the answer.

front-squatsStrength training with traditional lifts such as front squats, deadlifts, farmer carries, and pull-ups will not only improve your ability to lift heavy things, but it will also increase your core strength and power output, which are crucial for any athlete looking to get the most out of themselves.

Strength Training Myth #1

“If I lift heavy, I’ll put on too much muscle mass, making me bigger and slower.”

Let’s put that thought to rest right now. With your primary focus outside of the gym being endurance training, your body will not have the hormonal signaling or the resources to build a lot of bulky muscle. What you will build is functional, muscular strength and lots of it; and that translates to better performance.

Strength Training Myth #2

“If I lift heavy, I’ll stand a good chance of getting injured.”

In reality, the opposite is true. This kind of strength training will actually strengthen muscle attachments and increase the density of bones at the sites of muscle origins and insertions. This actually DECREASES your risk of getting hurt and can actually keep you injury free in the long term!

That being said, proper technique is paramount. It’s a great idea to have a certified personal trainer instruct you on the correct way to perform these exercises. Once you’ve perfected the technique for just a few simple lifts (really, it’s not that difficult), your overall risk of injury will go down drastically as your new-found strength will allow your body to more adequately withstand the rigors of your endurance training and competitions.

One of the biggest benefits of incorporating heavy traditional lifts into your routine is that they will greatly strengthen your core for real-world biomechanical application. Research has shown that because most of the common exercises that we’ve come to associate with core work (plank, crunches, etc.) are performed in a non-functional and/or static position, they are not very useful as a primary component of training. Core strength for endurance athletes is best trained with such exercises as squats, Olympic lifts, deadlifts, farmer carries, and push-ups.  Additionally, if the lower back, gluteal muscles, or hamstrings are weak or imbalanced, glute-ham raises and back squats are ideal.

Above is a picture of a front squat, which works your entire core. Keeping your torso erect during heavy squatting exercises requires a strong core. See more later this week as we breakdown how to do a front squat for our performance training tip.

The farmer’s walk with heavy weights, as demonstrated by Joey Jacinto below, is well worth adding to your repertoire…it’s like doing a weighted vertical plank! Do yourself a favor and include it in your training once or twice a week to see some serious strength gains.

There are a multitude of different heavy lifts that you can do, so your routine should never become boring! As our bodies adapt to our routines, we need to constantly change it up to challenge ourselves in different ways. Check out our website for additional videos, descriptions, and links for other exercises.

Strength training is a vital part of unlocking your body’s full potential. The stronger your muscles and the more complete their contractions, the better you’ll perform and the less susceptible you’ll be to injuries…it’s that simple!