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What Type Of Strength Training To Use

by My Finish Line


Strength training should be used primarily as a support tool for energy system work if you are an endurance athlete. The primary source of effort should be aerobic, maybe anaerobic. This is why getting miles in the legs has always been a staple part of most traditional training plans. However, the exciting part here is, if you are primarily an endurance athlete, the chances are that you can make up a huge shortfall in your potential by working on strength.

The Principle

Leg strength and power improves running efficiency, and also has positive carryover on injury prevention. Strong hamstrings and calves can bulletproof athletes from injury. The dosage of strength training needed to achieve this, also, can be minimal. Recent studies have shown that glycogen uptake in muscles is maximised at the point of failure – however that can be ‘failure’ in number of reps or ‘failure’ in the capacity to lift the weight due to a strength deficit. What that means is, whether you are doing 3 reps on a heavy weight or 20 reps on a lighter weight, strengthening occurs.

How Do I Apply It?

As a general rule, the less amount of reps the more the weight in a set (and vice versa), but creating the correct type of muscle fibre is crucial. Most endurance athletes will by definition have created a lot of slow twitch muscle fibers (type 1) which are usually created under the conditions of long duration, slow movement high endurance bouts. Endurance athletes therefore should, in theory, look to complement this by using high reps on a lower weight in gym sessions. Sessions such as weight cross training, high volume low rest work can benefit endurance athletes but not necessarily sprinters. (Sprinters create a lot of type 2 muscle fibers because such fibers contribute towards short-burst power events.) Endurance athletes have the luxury of using all types of strength-training interventions in the gym as they all contribute towards the nature of the events in which they compete.