Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

strength-training-classesStrength training as an endurance athlete. Why should you do it? What are the benefits?

The main goal of strength training should be to address muscle dysfunction or imbalances and improve body control, stability and strength. This allows for good body conditioning to help decrease your risk of injury and improve running economy.

Research has shown that strength training 2-3 times per week for a minimum of 8 weeks has many beneficial effects.

Strength training can decrease your risk of injury by one third and reduce overuse injuries by almost half. Hip and core exercises are particularly important when it comes to reducing injury. Many running injuries, especially at the hip and knee, are as a result of muscle imbalances or weaknesses in these areas.

Strength training improves running efficiency and economy. It increases your type 2a muscle fibres, which are more fatigue resistant fibres and therefore will help improve running endurance. This will allow you to maintain good running technique for longer over longer races.

Improving economy and endurance will help increase mile pace and speed, therefore strength training can make you run faster. Research has shown improved 3km, 4km and 5km times, varying from 3-8% when combining strength and endurance training.

By increasing lower limb strength, it improves the body’s ability to use energy and oxygen stores more effectively by improving VO2 max. This allows you to maintain running pace and speed for a longer duration.

And finally, if you’re running is to lose weight then you should also be incorporating strength training into your fitness programme. Strength training will help you lose fat by increasing muscle mass. Having more muscle increases your body’s metabolism, therefore it improves the body’s ability to burn fat.

Danielle Gavaghan MISCP

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