For many years I have studied and learnt my graft in the weights room from some of the very best in the fitness industry today. Anyone who knows me will expect me to champion the application of resistance training, whatever your sport or goal. Endurance athletes are no exception, in fact I think that one of the ‘’tricks’’ many endurance based athletes miss out on is the resistance based training to their regime. Why? Weights are there to get you big, bulky and will inevitably negatively impinge on your progress as an endurance athlete right? Nonsense!
There are many areas an endurance athlete can improve upon by using a weights programme. I think this dogmatic mind-set comes from the ‘’bodybuilder’’ look and its association with shifting weights. There is more than one way to write a weight training programme, training like a bodybuilder is NOT what we are talking about here. So, why?
A lot of endurance athletes have poor joint stability and it isn’t because their muscles are ‘’small’’ but instead weak. This is where the difference between ‘’bodybuilding’’ and ‘’functional’’ training comes in. For an athlete functional progress is all that is necessary, therefore myofibrillar hypertrophy is where the aim of the game lies. Lifting weights in a low rep range (3-5) with a fast, explosive lift combined with a slow, controlled negative phase on each rep is what we are looking at here. The emphasis here is to strengthen muscles to improve joint stability, therefore hopefully decreasing the chances of injury during your sport.
Believe it or not, a lot of people who run do not have the desirable biomechanical balance to do so. In short, this can exacerbate the problem and eventually lead to injury where it could otherwise be avoided. This can come from poor posture and imbalances between muscle groups. Improving strength in muscle groups will certainly improve balance within your physique, therefore posture and hopefully overall performance and health.
By improving strength and biomechanical performance you will inevitably improve overall efficiency. This in turn should translate to faster times out on the road or track. There are many benefits to increasing your strength via resistance training my endurance friends! Don’t think that it will make you ‘’bulky’’ because a properly designed strength and conditioning programme will focus on performance.
The small amount of growth you will experience will only be beneficial.