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Endurance Athlete: Strength Training

Most endurance athletes follow a training routine free of strength training.  They fear that lifting breeds a negative effect on their endurance efforts.  The reality is that incorporating strength training into your routine is an important factor in improving your endurance ability.  If you’re a runner, a cyclist, or any other type of endurance athlete, some fast-twitch muscle responses occur during these activities.

First, we define endurance activities generally as slow-twitch muscle responses, because they are not associated with speed, explosiveness, or strength.  Strength training develop fast-twitch muscle response while endurance training develops slow-twitch muscle ability.  Most sports or other athletic exercises require one ability more that the other, but it’s important to note that none of these activities are completely slow or fast twitch.

Endurance running, even at slow paces, requires some fast-twitch muscle ability.  For instance, each time your foot springs off the ground, you are pushing against 2.9 times your bodyweight in force.  Anytime you’re cycling uphill, fast-twitch muscle are activated to keep pace (running too).

If you’re a marathoner, you obviously don’t want to just quit running, and spend your time lifting heavy weight in the gym.  However, incorporate a few days of strength training here and there as a supplement to your endurance training.  Furthermore,  running 10-15 miles a day is not necessary, and is not good for your body.  Having a diverse training regiment is always the best way to go.  An example of a training routine might include these various types of training sessions:

  • interval training (sprinting)

  • long distance training (this is still important, just not every day)

  • strength training (for strength and explosiveness)

  • cross training (try swimming if you’re a runner, or running if you’re a swimmer)