Strength Training and The Endurance Athlete

Starting to plan your offseason training? Or maybe you're thinking about adding strength training throughout your competitive Fall or Winter season to increase power and reduce the risk of injury. Either way, this pertains to you.

For years the standard recommendation for endurance athletes has been to use weights that allow relatively higher repetitions (70% 1RM for 10-15 reps/set) than normally performed in strength training. Now researchers at University of Rome have released the outcomes of their study showing that masters endurance runners are better served by training with heavier weights (85-90% 1RM for 3-4 reps).

They concluded the following.

Taken together, the results of this preliminary study indicate that master endurance athletes seem to benefit from concurrent strength and endurance training because the rate of force development may be crucial for RE improvement, one of the major determinants of endurance performance.

The use of heavier weights was thought to result in greater neurological adaptation, as opposed the creation of new muscle tissue, allowing the subjects to use more of their strength potential.

Those lifting heavier weights in the study didn't gain any more weight than those lifting lighter weights. In fact, neither group saw a change when compared to the control group, who didn't weight train, but continued running. The majority of us simply don't possess the genetics to gain appreciable muscle while maintaining our diets and continuing endurance work.

If you're not well-experienced in the weight room, have a qualified strength coach instruct proper form and exercise selection. The potential for injury is present whenever improper technique is used, regardless of the amount of weight on the bar. Not to mention that throwing weights around in poor form looks just as bad as the person on the local group ride who can't ride straight. Don't be that guy.

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