Saturday, August 28, 2010

Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

I am always amazed when I talk to potentially new clients that are training for triathlons or marathons and they tell me they have never done strength training. It is never too late to start strength training. If you currently don't lift weights, then it is not too late to start now! It has been a part of my training for at least 25 years! I have never thought about not doing it except once when I started training for my first marathon. If you have read past blog posts you can read how big of a mistake that was. I will always lift weights until I die or cant physically do it anymore. I am here to tell you I do it and NO it is not my favorite thing to do. I would much rather be running! I know the importance of it so I make time for it.
Endurance athletes think that all they have to do is swim, bike and run. I am here to tell you strength and flexibility will help you in all areas of your training. If you want to get faster on the run and you do speed work and don't do strength training, you are not going to get as fast as you could. If you want to be a faster swimmer, and only do short, fast intervals then you are not going to be as fast as you could be. Strength training is also good for bone health. This becomes especially important in women with an increase in osteoporosis in the United States. The best part of building muscle is that it is a fat burning furnace. So what are you waiting for?
So what do you do in the gym? Well I would love it if everyone came to train with me in the gym but I know that isn't going to happen! However if you have never lifted weights, you should hire a trainer to get comfortable doing the exercises right. You may only need to work with a trainer for a few months. Then you will have an idea of what to do and how to do it right. Most endurance athletes I have worked with are pretty self motivated to workout. They just don't know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. There are also lots of great resources out there. There are good books that cover sport specific strength training and the Internet is another good resource.
So don't wait another day! Get into the gym and start lifting weights. It may be sacrificing a run, bike, or swim but I guarantee it will be worth it in the end.
When doing strength training for endurance athletes you don't need to lift heavy weights. Lower weight and more repetitions is suggested for endurance athletes. If you have long runs or bike rides coming up then it is advisable to take it easier on the legs a few days before those workouts.
Areas to focus on are core, hips, hamstrings, and shoulders. Core strength is so essential in swimming, biking and running. It is very easy to identify someone running or swimming with a weak core. Strengthening shoulders becomes important in running and swimming. Typically cyclists have very strong quads. The hamstrings are the weaker of the two so they should be trained.
I will coach anyone training for a marathon or triathlon for FREE if you do strength training with me in the gym! See my website for the details.

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