Tag Archives: endurance athletes

Is Strength Training Good for Endurance Athletes?

4 Feb

Most experts recognize — and relevant literature supports — that endurance athletes benefit from both heavy resistance and endurance training.  Maximal strength and power training have recently gained attention as a potential strategy for increasing endurance performance.

A recent review of the literature concluded that concurrent training (the simultaneous training of resistance and endurance exercise) has a positive effect on endurance performance.

One determinant of sport performance is the ability to appropriately and effectively exert force against the ground (e.g., running, jumping) or an apparatus (e.g., cycling).  When all other factors are equal, the athlete with a greater ability to exert force will perform the best, as they will cover more distance per muscle action.  Therefore, even endurance athletes benefit from increases in force production.

According to an article from the Strength and Conditioning Journal, strength training improves motor recruitment patterns, which lowers energy expenditure at any specific submaximal intensity because fewer motor units (and therefore muscles) are activated. Any adaptation that allows an athlete to use less energy at a given speed will decrease the oxygen requirement and should therefore increase athletic performance. Moreover, less muscular contraction leads to less blood flow restriction, which allows greater delivery of fuels and removal of waste products. High-intensity power training (such as plyometrics) offers extra benefits, as it enhances efficiency of elastic energy by increasing musculotendinous stiffness (a measure of how readily tissue reforms after being stretched, compressed, or twisted). This shifts energy production from active (muscular contraction) to passive (elastic rebound) sources.  (Martuscello, Jason MS, CSCS, HFS; Theilen, Nicholas MS)

Please see related article, Plyometric Training Benefits Distance Runners.

The addition of strength and power training should be done with caution, in order to avoid overtraining.  Strength and conditioning professionals need to be aware of proper periodization principles and specifically control volume and frequency throughout the training cycle to reduce this risk.  The relationship between strength training and endurance training should be inverse.  The addition of strength and power training should be countered with the subtraction of some endurance training, and vice-versa. For example, replacing approximately 1/3 of endurance volume with explosive strength training has been shown to improve leg strength, speed, power, anaerobic capacity, running economy, and – most importantly – 5k running time.

Strength and power training has many benefits for endurance athletes, including improved force output, musculotendinous stiffness and elastic energy efficiency, running economy, and race performance. In order to minimize the risk of injury, proper monitoring of program design and exercise technique should be closely observed.

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Plyometric Training Benefits Distance Runners

16 Jun

Plyometric training is great for developing explosive strength in athletes whose sports require short, intermittent, powerful bursts of movement.  But what about endurance athletes — specifically competitive middle- and long-distance runners?

A new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that plyometric training has a beneficial effect on endurance and explosive strength performance in distance runners.

The plyometric training regimen was carried out for six weeks, and included depth jumps and squat jumps20-meter sprint and 2.4-kilometer run times were measured before and after the explosive strength training.

The runners participating in the plyometric training showed a significant reduction in 2.4-km endurance run time and 20-m sprint time, and an increase in squat jump and depth jump explosive performance.

The authors (Ramirez-Campillo, et.al.) concluded that “properly programmed concurrent explosive strength and endurance training could be advantageous to middle- and long-distance runners in their competitive performance, especially in events characterized by sprinting actions with small time differences at the end of the race.”

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Post-Workout Nutrition for Endurance Exercise

6 Jul

mile18[1]Endurance athletes and enthusiasts — all you distance runners, cyclists, and swimmers — this one’s for you.

There’s a lot of available information (and opinions) about post-workout nutrition and recovery for strength and power athletes.

Here’s an informative resource for those athletes and exercise enthusiasts whose activity more heavily engages their oxidative and slow-glycolytic energy systems.

In her article, Endurance Exercise: Fatigue and Recovery, Amber Kleckner, PhD discusses what you should eat and drink after an endurance workout and provides some examples of each.

The article also describes the psychological and biological mechanisms that lead to exhaustion and muscle soreness.

Push yourself when you exercise, and be smart about your recovery strategies, to look, feel, and perform your best.

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Aerobic/Anaerobic Combination Training Implications

30 Jan

Tire%20flipping[1]When aerobic training is added to the training of anaerobic athletes (those who participate in sports whose demands are primarily anaerobic), the resulting process can be termed combination training.

And, although lots of athletes who participate in strength and power sports also engage in some type of aerobic training, they may want to reconsider (please refer to, Why Are You Still Jogging?).

Certainly, some sports have more of an aerobic component than others, but virtually all sports integrate alternating intervals — short bursts — of high-intensity and (relatively) lower-intensity activity.  Characteristics of anaerobic training include:

  • Absence of oxygen
  • High intensity
  • Short duration
  • Develops force
  • Burns calories even when the body is at rest

Aerobic training may reduce anaerobic performance capabilities, particularly high-strength, high-power performance (Hickson, R.C. Interference of strength development by simultaneously training for strength and endurance. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 215:255-263. 1980).  High-strength, high-power performance incorporates explosive, “all-or-nothing” movements, including sprinting, jumping, hitting, throwing, kicking, blocking, and tackling.

Not only has aerobic training been shown to reduce anaerobic energy production capabilities; combined anaerobic and aerobic training can reduce the gain in muscle girth, maximum strength, and especially speed- and power-related performance (Dudley, G.A., and R. Djamil. Incompatibility of endurance- and strength-training modes of exercise. J. Appl. Physiol. 59(5); 1446-1451. 1985).

Apparently, it does not appear that the opposite holds true; several studies and reviews suggest that anaerobic training (strength training) can improve low-intensity exercise endurance (Hickson, R.C., et.al. Potential for strength and endurance training to amplify endurance performance. J. Appl. Physiol. 65(5):2285-2290. 1988. Strength training effects on aerobic power and short-term endurance. Med.Sci. Sports. Exerc. 12:336-339, 1980. Stone, M.H., et.al. Health and performance related adaptations to resistive training. Sports Med. 11(4):210-231. 1991).  In other words, endurance athletes can benefit from and improve performance by strength training.

As strength and conditioning professionals, we should be careful about prescribing aerobic training for anaerobic athletes/sports.  An athlete’s training should be designed to reflect the demands and movement patterns of his or her sport.  Aerobic training may be counterproductive in most strength and power sports.

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Plyometric Training Benefits Distance Runners

7 Feb

coe[1]Plyometric training is great for developing explosive strength in athletes whose sports require short, intermittent, powerful bursts of movement.  But what about endurance athletes — specifically competitive middle- and long-distance runners?

A new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that plyometric training has a beneficial effect on endurance and explosive strength performance in distance runners.

The plyometric training regimen was carried out for six weeks, and included depth jumps and squat jumps20-meter sprint and 2.4-kilometer run times were measured before and after the explosive strength training.

The runners participating in the plyometric training showed a significant reduction in 2.4-km endurance run time and 20-m sprint time, and an increase in squat jump and depth jump explosive performance.

The authors (Ramirez-Campillo, et.al.) concluded that “properly programmed concurrent explosive strength and endurance training could be advantageous to middle- and long-distance runners in their competitive performance, especially in events characterized by sprinting actions with small time differences at the end of the race.”

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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