A quick thank you to Coach Kat at Optimum Performance Training for her guest blog post below.

Kat Elvidge, MAHN, BSc, Coach Optimum Performance Training Inc.

“Despite there being much evidence to support the profound benefits of strength training for endurance athletes, year-round strength training is not common in many athletes’ programs. This is mainly due to the misconceptions associated with strength for endurance sports.

Misconceptions such as:

  • strength training will bulk you up too much, which will make you slow
  • strength training will decrease your conditioning due to increased energy requirements
  • strength training will increase the risk of injury due to muscular fatigue

Here is the reality:

  • increased muscular strength negates the effects of any mass you gain or additional muscular energy requirements
  • strength training decreases your energy requirements by increasing your movement economy
  • strength training decreases your risk of injury by making you a more durable athlete

While it’s true that a training program comprised entirely of aerobic endurance exercise CAN improve your strength, it will be capped at a certain point. Improving your strength beyond what endurance training can offer will increase your power and improve your efficiency. This means greater speed and less wasted energy.

Strength Training & Injury Prevention:

Endurance sports are repetitive by nature. You’re performing the same movement pattern over and over for an extended period of time. If you have any imbalances or weaknesses, you’re at a high risk of injury.

Muscle imbalances develop when a certain muscle group becomes much stronger than its opposing group. For example, running builds the quads but largely ignores the hamstrings. This can lead to pain in the anterior side of your legs and, result in an injury like shin splints. By focusing on these imbalances during strength training sessions, you can greatly reduce the risk of these type of injuries.

Strength training also strengthens your bones, and connective tissues (tendons & ligaments).

The combination of having low bone density and the repetitive movement patterns of endurance sports can lead to stress fractures.

Connective tissues, on the other hand, provide support for the entire body. Consistent strength training both increases bone density to lower the risk of these injuries and increases the size and strength of the ligaments and tendons.

Finally, improving core strength and stability through resistance training helps maintain proper posture and form during long-distance efforts. This will reduce fatigue, but more importantly, it will improve your biomechanics. Better biomechanics means less stress on the wrong parts of the body (think hips, knees, and back), which results in fewer injuries long-term.

An injury can derail an entire athletic season. For amateur and elite athletes alike, strength training is an excellent way to decrease your injury risk.”

If you would like more information regarding strength training options at Optimum Performance, you can find them HERE.  There is a 6-week individualized program option that clients can do at home or at their home gym. Each program is based on an initial movement assessment and takes into account goals and injuries. I think I’m going to look into this!  ~Coach Mary