When it comes to training for endurance events, most athletes focus on logging countless miles, pushing their cardiovascular limits, and fine-tuning their aerobic capacity. While these aspects are undeniably crucial, there is an often overlooked factor that can make all the difference in an athlete's performance: strength training. Beyond the realm of heavy weights and bulging muscles, strength training holds the key to unlocking a whole new level of athletic potential for endurance athletes.
This is the first of a series of training blog post on strength training for endurance athletes. Today we delve into the common mistakes endurance athletes make when incorporating strength training into their regimen.
Part of the process for training your endurance event is supplementing with a strength training routine that will not only help you prevent injury, but also make you a stronger, faster, and more efficient athlete.
Here are some common problems we see endurance athletes make with their strength training routine and how to avoid them.
1. Not Strength Training At All
A common push back you'll hear against weight training for endurance athletes is that the athlete will become too bulky and slow.
While adding mass to the frame of an endurance athlete is a valid concern, the same reason a strongman competitor won't be setting marathon records, an endurance athlete won't pack on slabs of muscle.
As mentioned above when programmed properly, strength training for endurance athletes is a great way to help reduce injury, maximize performance, and help increase power output on race day.
2. Training "Abs"
A common staple in an endurance athlete's training routine is core work in the form of sit-ups, crunches, and flutter kicks.
While well-intended, rather than programming exercises that simply produce a burn we should focus on exercises that closely reflect the demands of your sport.
A sport-specific approach would look like, iso-stability movements (dead bug holds, pillar hold, static side pillar holds) and progress to the more difficult dynamic variations that will challenge you to maintain a neutral spine as your body moves through all planes of motion.
Focusing on these progressions stresses the core stabilizers to maintain alignment much like the forces applied during running.
3. Prioritizing Muscle Groups Over Movement
Every discipline in endurance sports calls upon movement in all three planes of motion (frontal, sagittal & transverse).
A common mistake in athletic strength training programs is one that leads to movement pattern overuse by training repetitive muscle groups and often in a singular plane of motion.
By switching your focus to movement training across all three planes, as well the axes of rotation, rather than singular muscle groups. You can narrow in on your movement limitations and effectively prepare your body for the specificity of your endurance event.
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