10 STRENGTH TRAINING RULES FOR THE ENDURANCE ATHLETE
1. Start with the basics – Plyometrics, single leg balancing on bosu balls and complexed exercises have their place once you have mastered the groundwork. Just because you are 'fit' doesn't mean that you can achieve everything that you see on Instagram! The basics are safe and when done well are the essential foundations you require.
2. Select whole body exercises – Train using exercises that relate to whole body movement patterns and that can be related to your sport. The strength and neuromuscular improvements on offer from exercises such as the squat and deadlift outweigh anything delivered by isolation exercises.
3. Target you weaknesses - Seek out Professional advice to help identify muscular imbalances and any weaknesses that could lead to injury, then train accordingly. Single side (unilateral) variations are important for developing stability and targeting imbalances, which is important for increasing overall efficiency. When doing single side exercises, start with your weaker side first.
4. Reps have a purpose - There are ideal exercise repetitions and set ranges for achieving different muscular effects. When starting out, a rep range of 8-10 is great for conditioning and getting familiar with the exercises. When we are looking to develop strength and power a heavier resistance for 6 or less reps will elicit the best changes.
5. Schedule mindfully - Regardless of how much time you have, your strength sessions should last no longer than 40-45 minutes. If doing a complete strength session we recommend performing it on your less demanding days, to allow you to complete all sessions with quality. If you are doing a Mobility or Activation session, they can be a great warm-up to prep your body for your swim, bike or run.
6. How often? – Look to include at least two strength sessions a week for consistent, effective results. Again, these sessions should last no longer than 45 minutes. Make good use of your time and select the most effective exercises for your individual needs.
7. Time under tension – Don’t rush through your workout, take a measured approach to your strength training, each exercise should have a purpose and if you’re working at the correct intensity you will need rest intervals to maintain consistency.
8. Don’t train fatigued – Overload or overtraining will only lead to encourage poor technique especially if you don't have anyone watching you. This will only lead to the increased likelihood of injury. Sometime you have to be smart and learn to know when to rest.
9. Rest – An often overlooked factor, but must be valued – keep strength sessions 48 hours apart to allow for adaptation. Rest is also important DURING the session. Endurance athletes are notoriously poor at this, so make sure you are taking adequate rest during the session (this will vary depending on the intensity).
10. Simplicity is best – Steer clear of new fads and gimmicks and stick to the basics. Simple functional exercises are guaranteed to be effective and produce long lasting results.