As we talk about all the time here at Elevate, everyone can benefit from strength training in one capacity or another. It's a vital and useful tool that can contribute to a lot of positive outcomes, especially for athletes of any kind.
In this article, I'd like to outline the top reasons endurance athletes should employ strength work in their training plan. What qualifies you as an endurance athlete? Well, let's just say your primary focus for sport/recreation involves marathons, distance runs, triathlons, cycling, or even obstacle course racing (OCR).
Let's get into our Top 5!
1. Injury Prevention
It's funny...some people still say they avoid strength training because they don't want to get injured, yet it's often the lack of strength work that results in the injury happening. An inherent aspect of endurance sports is the likelihood of accumulating overuse injuries. These pop up due to the high volume and repetitive nature of endurance sports. Strength training fortifies joints and muscles by increasing resiliency of tendons, muscles, connective tissues and even bones.
2. More Force is a Good Thing
As you increase your strength, you are increasing the amount of force you can produce. Let's say you go from being able to squat 100 pounds to being able to squat 200 pounds. Do you think your legs have become more powerful? Hell yes they have! More force means you can go faster. Sounds pretty good for an activity based around racing, right?
3. Be a Better Mover
When done right, a progressive strength program develops skills and movement patterns. Put simply, you get better at doing things ;) Learning the skill of squatting optimally or deadlifting (or any one of a number of movements) teaches you how to move your body more efficiently. This feeds in to reducing injuries as well. In addition to the skills being acquired, smart strength training helps you gain better mobility which gives you more options when certain body parts start to get tired.
At around age 30, strength and power can begin to decline. Past age 50, the average human is going to start losing muscle fiber steadily as well. This should be a major area of concern for older athletes. Because endurance athletes work through such a high volume of training, it's even harder to keep up with muscle mass which can lead to deterioration of joints, metabolism and more. Strength training can help maintain and regenerate muscle tissue to keep you in the game longer and with fewer complications.
5. Maximizing Your Bodyweight
A big area of contention for endurance athletes when it comes to strength work is that they don't want to pack on bodyweight. When doing heavy lifting, you may not necessarily add much mass. Of course, a lot of it has to do with nutrition. However, heavy lifting is typically done at a lower volume of work which leads to increased strength rather than increased size.
If you are pursuing goals in the endurance field, make sure to build in some strength blocks throughout the year. I promise you won't regret it!
-Taylor Race, Owner of Elevate