STRENGTH TRAINING FOR ENDURANCE ATHLETES
Words by Steve Roberts: Infinite Fitness Peninsula & Friend of Fractel
In my opinion the endurance community is made up of some of the toughest, most inspiring, and twisted athletes on this planet but one thing they continuously overlook is strength training and solely focus on their sport at hand. This may suffice in the short term but will ultimately result in long-term injury issues.
If you are going to take one thing from this blog then let is be this; DO NOT get your strength program off instagram and cut the bullshit when choosing exercises for your strength program (You will get nothing apart from a traumatic injury from performing squats on a Bosu ball)!!!!!
When I am talking about strength programs for endurance athletes I am not talking about isolation exercises like bicep curls (although there is always a spare 10 minutes for a cheeky pipes session) we are talking about A) Mobility work B) Movement Preparation C) Activations D) Strength work which will consist of the fundamental compound movements such as, squats, deadlifts, rows, lunges, hip thrusts & overhead press (You will notice a few of these exercises included in my example program below). It is also imperative that a strength program for endurance athletes includes a lot of unilateral exercises as when we are competing or training our body will continuously find itself relying solely on one side of the body over and over again.
My main goal when working with endurance athletes is to “maintain” a good base level of strength and improve any deficiencies they may have (this is super important). Endurance athletes EXPECT to put a huge amount of volume through their bodies and without a solid base level of strength this is a recipe for disaster. There may only be a small strength deficiency between your left and right leg but after 2 hours of running/cycling/swimming this “small” deficiency is causing “enormous” problems somewhere in your body.
In my opinion EVERY SINGLE endurance athlete should be completing at least 1-2 strength sessions per week, which would be considerably different depending on the individual athlete.
As endurance athletes we are time poor so it's imperative that our program is “simple yet effective” and we complete the “simple things consistently well”!
When looking for a trainer you must do your homework and ensure that they understand the nature of what you are doing (As I mention earlier, we may be described as “twisted” by some, so most “normal” people don’t understand what us “endurance athletes” put our bodies through). If you need any help on this matter or have any further questions please feel free to contact me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have included below a very basic outline of what I would program for an advanced athlete who is in a maintenance block of strength training.
- Mobility = Foam roller & lacrosse ball work
- Movement preparation = Active movements such as; Leg swings, inch worms, squat sits, arm swings, cat-camel, reach through, etc.
- Activations = Crab walk, clams, banded hip thrust, banded pull apart, shoulder external & internal rotation, etc.
- Strength Work =
A1 – Barbell box squat – 6 reps x 3 sets
A2 – Chin-ups – 6 reps x 3 sets
B1 – Barbell Romanian deadlift – 6 reps x 3 sets
B2 - Dumbbell single arm press - 6 reps (each side) x 3 sets
C1 – Dumbbell Bulgarian split squat – 10 reps (each side) x 3 sets
C2 – Single leg hip thrust – 10 reps (each side) x 3 sets
D1 – Pallof press – 15 reps (each side) x 3 sets
D2 – Single arm farmers carry – 60 seconds (each side) x 3 sets
I trust this gives you a bit more insight into the importance of strength for endurance runners.
Steve - Director at Infinite Fitness Peninsula