Raise your hand if one or more of these describes you:
- Haven’t seen the inside of a weight room since “your glory days.”
- Think lifting will make you big and bulky.
- Would always choose to swim, bike, or run rather than touch a dumbbell.
- Has at least one sidelining injury each season (oooohhhh…getting personal).
- Has a nagging injury “since that one time in college” or “ever since I trained for.”
- Wouldn’t know what to do with a weight if it bit you (throw it duh).
You may ALL now put down your hands. People are staring.
But in all honesty, strength is generally the number one thing that endurance athletes completely and utterly ignore. We’ve been beating the dead horse (no horses were really harmed) for years on this subject and it is still something we deal with every day. Even some folks who are paying us good money to tell them exactly what to do to achieve their goals (cheap shot) will cut strength if time gets tight. And time is ALWAYS tight. Yes, I’m calling you out. If you are feeling guilt right now, get to it!
Anyways, strength work has a number of magical benefits that transcend beyond a washboard stomach and buns of steel. Here are some of the more important aspects in a nutshell:
- Squats Build Watts – Wait, strength training can help me produce more power? YES. Lifting (heavy) teaches the body to recruit more muscle fibers. This increase in muscle recruitment helps the muscles contract with more force, even without making the muscles bigger. Win win!
- Total Body Stabilization – Lifting with compound and complex exercises (with good form) helps strengthen all of the body’s many stabilizing muscles, as well as it’s tendons and ligaments. This allows an athlete to hold better form longer, and prevents a lot of extraneous movements that could cause normal overuse injuries. Got lateral knee pain? Strength can fix that.
- Unbreakable – Bone density is an issue for many endurance athletes, especially ladies and aging athletes. Lifting helps increase bone density by sensing the weak points when under load, and sending little osteoblasts to help build more bone cells in that area.
- Comfort – Many endurance athletes suffer from horribly weak and even inactive core, hip, and glute muscles. With these guys not doing their job, you are not only losing speed and power, but you are likely going to experience a lot more aches and pains than someone who does regular strength work. On the same topic, strength can also help you hold a more aggressive time trial position on a bike, or more streamline position in the water. And we’ve all seen the marathon shuffle. Ouch!
There you have it. If that short list doesn’t have you checking to see if you still belong to a gym, we know a few good physical therapists that can help you soon enough.
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