Strength training has incredible benefits for endurance athletes—but it is often overlooked, or skipped altogether! Let’s take a look at the top 5 excuses endurance athletes make for skipping strength training.
“I’ll get bulky.”
Many endurance athletes use this as an excuse not to strength train. Strength training does have its side effects, but they mostly including feeling incredible, reducing body fat, and creating a great physique. In addition, strength training will improve your strength, power, running economy, and will help reduce your risk of injury.
Consistent strength training (when combined of course with proper nutrition) gives you these benefits because it helps increase lean muscle mass; which means a change in body composition (higher body water percentage, lower body fat percentage). In addition, regular weight training workouts help increase strength, which we can then put into every stroke in the water, pedal stroke on the bike and step on the run.
If you have adopted the “weight lifting will make me bulky mindset,” no worries; today is a new day. Let’s change that mindset and limiting beliefs about strength training and focus on the amazing benefits instead.
“I don’t run as well after a strength training workout.”
Triathletes will be familiar with “brick” workouts, which consist of a bike workout followed by a run. How do your legs feel the first time you do a brick workout? I’ll go out on a limb and say they feel like bricks, right? But, as you continue to train and implement more and more bike-run workouts into your training, you’ll find yourself running exceptionally well off the bike.
Well, welcome to “the other brick workout.” Strength training workouts done first and then immediately followed with a swim, bike or run workout are insanely effective. Yes, by design, we are creating fatigue in the upper and lower body in the weight room, and then knocking out another workout on those fatigued muscles. Just like the bike-run workouts that you may have already mastered, the same adaptations will happen with brick workouts incorporating strength.
One of the keys to preparing the body for race day is to teach the body to perform and perform well even when tired. Come race day, when you are rested and tapered, just imagine how great you will feel! Remember, we do not want race day to be the toughest thing we do.
“I do yoga instead of weight training.”
Yoga is great, as are a lot of fun activities that increase strength, mobility, and balance. But yoga does not replace weight training, because it doesn’t overload the muscles in the same way. To increase power and gain the adaptations mentioned above, you’ll want to supplement your yoga practice with some loaded exercises.
When we are talking about weight training, we are getting after it in the weight room. We are going to hit the dumbbells, barbells, machines, plyometrics; nothing shy of chewing on iron…that’s weight training!
“I weight train…but just in the off-season.”
How would your running performance be if you only ran 2-3 months out of the year? How would your body composition be if you only focused on eating right 2-3 months out of the year? The answer to both is, ‘not very good.’ Just like with all aspects of training and nutrition, if we are looking to get maximum benefit, strength training must be done year-round. Sure, there are going to changes to the frequency throughout the year, but focusing on anything for only a season, especially weight training, is going to produce subpar results.
“I don’t have time.”
You find time to get in your swim, bike and/or run workouts, right? Then why can’t you get in your weight training workouts? I’ll tell you why; it’s because you don’t make them a priority. Look, getting in your weight training workouts does not mean adding more time to your weekly workout schedule. It simply means taking the available time you have and reworking the work-to-rest ratio to make sure weight training gets as much attention as your other workouts. Whether you have seven, 15, or 25 hours every week to train, it’s just a matter of taking your available time and putting together the right mix for you.
If you find yourself using the above excuses regarding weight training; no worries, today is a new day and a new start! It’s time to stop making excuses and to start making time for weight training.
This article originally appeared on Trainingpeaks.com.
Rick Kattouf II, O.D. is a 2x Best-Selling, Doctor of Optometry, Personal Trainer, Triathlon Coach, Sports Nutrition Specialist and Heart Rate Performance Specialist.