In endurance sports, many still balk at the idea of weight training. Admittedly, there aren’t many research reports showing that aerobic performance can be improved through strength training.
But the effect of well-designed strength training programs that address the specific needs of endurance athletes has not yet been studied. One thing is certain, complementing the annual program with a few weeks of strength training brings the following advantages:
- increased muscle power;
- improved top speed;
- reduction of the risk of inflicting wear injuries, thanks in particular to an increase in the resistance of collagen fibers;
- improved posture, reduced risk of back pain, neck pain;
- increased bone strength in women under 25 years of age and men under 35 years of age and, in older people, attenuation of its decline associated with aging, and therefore lower risk of osteoporosis;
- increased muscle mass and reduction of sarcopenia (“muscle wasting”) associated with aging;
- prevention of injuries in the event of a fall, in particular fractures;
- acceleration of recovery after a possible period of convalescence.
Anyone who wants to improve in an endurance sport should do at least two months of strength training each year (including at least two sessions per week) and maintain their muscular qualities by doing one session of strengthening weight training every seven to ten days the rest of the year. year.
Then you should focus on exercises that apply as specifically as possible the muscles most used in your sport, without neglecting the respiratory muscles (inspiratory and expiratory); This will be discussed later.
Organize your sessions
1. At the beginning of each resistance training session, do 5 to 15 minutes of cardio at medium intensity, being careful not to expend the energy you’ll need for the resistance exercises themselves.
2. Before each set of a given exercise, perform a first set of warm-up exercises of approximately five repetitions with a very light load, then a second set with a load corresponding to approximately 75% of the prescribed load.
3. Between sets and between exercises, take just a few seconds to recover, except during the strength training phase when you can allow yourself a minute or more between sets and between exercises.
4. If your weight training session is going to be long (more than 75 minutes), take a break of about ten minutes to relax and stretch, about two-thirds of the way through the session, to have energy for the second one. part.
5. If the session is shorter, do these complementary exercises at the end. It should be noted that flexibility can be maintained and even improved while muscle strength is being developed, provided appropriate stretching exercises are performed regularly.
6. Separate strength training days with at least one day of passive or active rest (cardio training).
7. For cardio and strength training sessions done on the same day, make sure you have enough time to replenish your energy stores between the two sessions.