While the fastest endurance athletes certainly will never win a bodybuilding contest, a well thought out strength training program will absolutely improve performance. Given the duration of even the shortest endurance races, performance will be limited by the muscles of the extremities, not the cardiovascular system. A fit athlete has an extraordinarily strong cardiovascular system, but the winner is the athlete whose muscles hold up to the demands of racing.
Interestingly, the greatest benefit of strength training for endurance performance is improved economy. Strong athletes can go fast using less energy than weaker athletes. So it isn’t that strength training enables you to sustain a higher energy expenditure, but that strength training enables you to go fast with a reduced energy expenditure.
Injuries are an ever-present risk with endurance training. Every athlete will be injured at some point in their career. Peak performances almost always come after long periods of consistent, uninterrupted training. Strength training increases the strength of all of the connective tissues as well as the muscles.
Athletes who perform serious strength training in the off-season also recover faster from workouts, especially runs. A strong runner will suffer less micro-trauma – tiny tears in the muscles that cause soreness. Anything that speeds recovery and allows more training volume and intensity without overtraining will improve performance.
Unfortunately for the endurance athlete, the methods of strength training commonly used do not stimulate the slow-twitch (endurance) fibers. Since slow-twitch fibers do not get bigger, the systems of strength training developed by bodybuilders ignore them. Arnold Schwarzenegger may never be the first to the top of that long hill, but he knew how to build huge biceps. Most endurance athletes lift weights in ways that make them more like Arnold than like Lance.
Learn how to:
- Stimulate the slow-twitch AND fast-twitch muscle fibers in strength training.
- Perform extremely intense strength workouts that do not compromise strength gains, but still enable quick recovery for workouts in your primary sport. Use most of your time and energy swimming, cycling, and/or running, not in the weight room.
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- Targets the muscles that maximize performance in your primary sport.