Strength Training for the Endurance Athlete

A serious endurance athlete (runner, triathlete, cyclist) does not need to spend hours per week in the gym. Nonetheless, most endurance athletes can benefit from hip stabilizer exercises and functional strength weight lifting at the correct time of year. This document can help you identify how to integrate functional strength training into your routine and identify which exercises are most important for you to implement. 

ADAPTATION AND TIMING

Before taking on a strength training routine, give yourself a 1-2 week adaptation period in which you conduct the exercises with just body weight 2-3 times per week. Athletes with a strong strength training background can shorten the adaptation period accordingly. 

The best time to implement a strength element to your training is at the beginning of a new training cycle. This would be during the typical ‘base training’ cycle or winter months for most athletes with summer time A-races. As the season approaches your A-Race, you should cut back on the heavy weight lifting aspect of your routine, and focus more on maintaining muscular balance.  We recommend not lifting any heavy weight at all the 2 weeks before your goal race.

FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH VS. ‘GYM’ STRENGTH

Functional strength training refers to building strength that actually helps you swim, bike, or run faster and more efficiency. Building functional strength is very different than your typical weight lifting session in that your goal is not to build mass or muscular definition, but rather to promote balance between all your muscle groups and engage multiple muscle groups and joints while conducting the movement. After the adaptation period, build functional strength by using explosive movements and relatively high weight, usually in the 4-8rep range. A metronome (finis tempo trainer) can be a helpful in promoting explosive movement by reminding you to keep a set rhythm.

 

BEST FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH EXERCISES FOR TRIATHLETES (2-3 sets of 4-8 explosive reps)

- Squats: traditional squat. Balance your weight on front of your heels.

- Romanian Dead Lift: hold squat bar at hip height (arms straight), knees slightly bent. Tilt at hips keeping neutral spine. Return to upright position and repeat.

- Box Lunge: stand on box 9-12’’ high, step forward off box, leaving one leg elevated on box behind your hips. Forcefully push off front leg to step back onto box.

- Pull ups: 2-3 sets, 4-8 reps.

 

HIP/BALANCE/PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE EXERCISES (10- 20reps)

- Push-up Inch Worm: push up, then walk feet as close to hands as possible (sticking butt up into air, will feel stretch in hamstrings), then walk hands out to pushup position again and repeat.

- Stability Ball Leg Curl: Lie on back with both heels on stability ball, curl hamstrings in and lift hips at same time until your feet are flat on the ball. Should feel strong contraction in hamstrings. Return to start and repeat.

- Single leg bridge: lie on back, tuck one leg in towards butt, other leg straight. Push down on tucked foot and lift hips and opposite leg off ground. Return to almost touching ground and repeat.

- Rotating Lunge: narrow stance, rotate towards forward leg. Hold bar over head for added difficulty.

Standing Hip Dip: 

- Side clams (lying hip abduction):

- Side leg lifts (lying leg abduction):

- Single leg squats: non-stance leg out in front. Explosive on way back up.

- Side lunge:

- Scapula retraction: use stretch cord attached to wall or wrapped around pole. Hold one side of cord in each hand, arms pulled into chest with hands facing upwards. Pull cord back by retracting shoulder blades. Complete 2 set with hands facing up, another with hands facing down and hands slightly lower.

- Side Crossover row:

- Monster Walk: (need rubber tubing/band) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJpoUJaHVVA

 

IF YOU’RE DOING THIS RIGHT YOU’LL BE SORE IN THE GLUTES!