Strength Training in Endurance Athletes to Go Longer

weightsAn aspect of endurance sports that’s often overlooked is the importance of strength training. People usually are under the impression that an increase in strength always comes with an increase in muscle mass. This may be true in some cases but for most the actual physical gains will be almost negligible, definitely not enough to remove strength training from your program. In this post we’ll discuss why strength training will improve your performance and provide a couple of key workouts that are sure to give you the most bang for your buck.

The basis of strength training is quiet simple, you subject your muscles to a low number of very heavily weighted exercises and then your muscles in preparation for having to go through the same bout again build and strengthen your muscle tissues. This can be contrasted with body building where you tend to go for higher repetitions which give you more of the “pumped” feeling. A good strength training routine will have somewhere in the range of 3-5 sets per workout each with a maximum of ten reps but more likely in the 5-8 rep range. You’re not so much going for the pump but rather to take your muscles to complete failure.

There are a ton of exercises that can help make a great strength training workout and you’ll want to juggle around the exercises in your routine often in order to continue to shock the muscles. Here are a few crucial exercises that are a necessity in any program:

  • Squats: A squat can be done either in a smith machine or with a barbell. Basically you rest the bar on your shoulders behind your neck and bend down at the knees holding a straight back until your butt is parallel with the floor. Make sure not to go any further down than this as it will place unnecessary stress on the knee joint. If it’s too difficult then you can always reduce the weight or not go down as far.
  • Deadlifts: In this exercise you start with the barbell on the floor and with your knees bent and about shoulder width apart you begin to pick up the weight. This exercise is a combination of legs and back. You do not want to lift the bar solely with your back or else you’ll risk injury. It’s one clean motion locking out the legs and lifting with your lower back. It’s best to start this one with very little weight until you feel comfortable with the motion. Once you get it though it’s sure to get you out of breath and completely exhausted.
  • Bent over row: Back can be tough to work out if you don’t have access to a gym. The bent over row is a great exercise you can do from home with just a simple barbell and some weights. For this one you start with the barbell on the floor and bend over so your torso is parallel to the floor. You want to make sure you keep your chin up and look straight ahead. With the barbell about 6 inches in front of you you want to take a wide grip and pick the barbell up. From this position you’ll bring the weight up to your navel trying to utilize your lower and mid back muscles as opposed to your biceps. Once you’ve touched your navel you fully extend your arms and then do it again.

Remember that for each set the weight should only touch the floor twice, once in the beginning and once when you’re finished.