Benefits of Strength Training For Endurance AthletesThere's a big misconception that circulates the endurance community. This false idea is the idea that strength training in heavy rep ranges and without any type of bosu ball will make endurance athlete's big and slow. Whether its runners, triathletes, rowers, or just about any other endurance athlete, it seems to be the prevailing notion that high repetition weight training and circuits are the only acceptable protocols to improve endurance performance through strength training. And this just isn't true.
Exercise EconomyExercise economy refers to the the metabolic cost of a given exercise. When an athlete runs or performs at a given speed there is a specific energy cost typically characterized by a relative percentage of the athlete’s VO2max. Simply said the harder the athlete is running the greater the cost. So if two endurance athletes are identical in all skills, qualities, and attributes, but one athlete is stronger, the stronger athlete will be able to produce the same levels of force, but at a lower energy cost and thus has better economy. It takes less effort relative to their maximum effort to perform each stride they make in the race. This means that if the two athletes were to run at the same speed the stronger athlete will be able to perform longer before they are exhausted, or if they both run for the same time the stronger athlete will be able to run faster for the given time.
Strength Doesn’t Equal BiggerAfter reading the above paragraph, I’m sure some runners are thinking something along the lines of, “But lifting heavy weights will make me bulky and slow.” Which is understandable given that most people equate strength training with bodybuilding. But I’m not advocating bodybuilding. I’m advocating strength training. Low reps, heavy weights. This is the good stuff. Training in lower rep ranges will allow an athlete to develop strength without hypertrophy because the training is predominantly neurological. The athlete begins to learn to contract the working muscle groups with greater force and efficiency, getting stronger without getting bigger or heavier.
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