I think it’s safe to say that if you want to be a better runner, you need to run. To be a better cyclist, get on the bike. Swimmers need to hit the pool.
Same goes for all endurance sports. It’s called the “principle of specificity“.
In order to improve as an endurance athlete, you’ll need a regular, consistent training plan that forces you to gradually increase your distance and speed.
But is strength training a waste of time for endurance athletes?
How can strength training help endurance athletes?
- Improves running economy, which reduces the amount of energy it takes to run at a given pace.
- Improves length of time running before exhaustion sets in.
- Improves cycling and running efficiency, particularly as an endurance athlete ages. Research.
- Swimming is highly technical and thus upper-body strength training plays a minimal role. According to research, swimmers require highly specific forms of strength training to realize performance improvements.
- The athlete has better control over movement and enhanced ability to generate power.
- Helps strengthen supporting muscles and allows the maintenance of form/biomechanics when the prime movers begin to fatigue (normally late in races).
What types of exercises should I be performing?
There is no single best exercise or approach to strength training for endurance athletes. These tips and guidelines will help you implement a strength training routine or improve upon your existing program.
I recommend you check out some of the articles that Matt Dixon, Alex Hutchinson, Jon-Erik Kawamoto and Dr. Reed Ferber have written for further information on strength training for endurance athletes.
- Single leg work to improve single leg hip stability and balance. Single leg squats and lunges are great.
- For runners, strengthening the hips is key to stabilizing your legs every time they hit the ground after a stride – this will help you eliminate and avoid knee pain associated with running. See my interview with Dr. Reid Ferber for more on this.
- Focus on the lower body, but do not ignore upper body exercises – they will help you improve your posture and arm carriage.
- Core exercises should focus on creating stability – no crunches or situps.
- Machines at the gym are unnecessary – functional movements with a Swiss Ball, free weights or a TRX will be much more effective.
- Do most of your training on stable ground for maximum strength gains (i.e. don’t just train on a BOSU ball or a wobble board).
Infographic source: Globe and Mail
Now for the fun part!
I have two amazing giveaways for all you endurance athletes.
1. TRX Pro Kit (valued at $199.95)
The TRX Suspension Trainer is used by some of best triathletes in the world such as Chris Lieto and Tyler Stewart.
“I have limited time…I have to be very efficient and effective in any training that I do… I believe that 3x a week for 30 min. on the TRX will help prevent overuse injuries, create more power/strength that leads to time improvements.” Tyler Stewart, Ironman Champion
2. Runners or Triathlon Functional Strength Program (valued at $100)
Check out this impressive list of professional athletes that Matt coaches: http://www.purplepatchfitness.com/professional-athletes
THE CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.
To enter for a chance to win a TRX Pro Kit or a Purplepatch Functional Strength Program, post a comment below answering the following questions no later than Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 5pm EST:
- What endurance sport(s) do you participate in?
- How has strength training helped you in your endurance sport?
- What types of strength training / exercises do you perform to help enhance your performances ?
For additional entries (only eligible if you have answered the questions above in a comment)…
- Sign up for Healthynomics email updates using the form below. (1 extra entry)
- Share the post on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. (1 extra entry)
- Link to this post from your blog. Be sure to provide me with the link within your comment. (1 extra entry)
Please let me know how many entries you’ve earned – up to a total of four.
I will choose one winner for the the TRX Pro Kit and one winner for the Runners or Triathlon Functional Strength Program.
The winner will be contacted by the email address used to make their comment below.