STRENGTH EXERCISES TO 'INSPIRE' THE ENDURANCE ATHLETE
Athlete and Coach Ben Coventry from Inspired Performance Strength & Conditioning takes us through his exercise selection when it comes to working with his athletes. He explains which exercises make the cut and which should be left at the door, and why less is sometimes more when it comes to training equipment.
Q. Top 5 exercises when training endurance athletes?
- Split squat
- Walking lunges
- Box step ups
- Pallof Press
- Swiss ball plank roll-out
These are probably the exercises I include in the majority of my programs, all have options for progressions, for example, you can advance the bodyweight walking lunge to one with dumbbells, a barbell or putting your back leg in a suspension trainer cradle to create some instability.
When an athlete is in their build phase (where they don’t have a race coming up) you can afford to focus on the big strength movements - squats, deadlift etc. focusing on using both legs. But when the athlete is mid season and the focus is more on conditioning I like to bring in the unilateral work. Remember with triathletes and runners the contact with the ground is with one leg at a time as opposed to both feet, so exercises that replicate this can be very effective.
It is important with the core exercises to keep them functional so that you’re adding movement. For example rather than just a static hold such as a plank, you can perform with an added movement. The Pallof press is also great for getting your core 'locked on'.
Q. One exercise you think is a waste of time?
A. Crunches!... I just don’t regard them as functional. However I do value exercises such as a 'V-sit' where you’re using both upper and lower core (the hip flexors will come into play here). Endurance athletes have to remember, they're not training to get out of bed faster, you’re training to become a stronger human - it doesn’t really matter if you’ve got a six pack or not! High repetition crunches are just not an effective way of working your core, I think you can train your core a lot more efficiently doing a heavy deadlift or a heavy squat in the right way than you can by doing 20,000 crunches. Also, people think that abs are made by doing hundreds of crunches when if fact your abs are made in the kitchen!
Q. Favourite piece of equipment/training tool?
A. Resistance bands or tether bands. Not only are they good for beginner clients but working as a mobile trainer myself no matter where we are I can use resistance bands. You don’t need a heavy barbell to get the right muscles working, you just need to put that muscle under load. You can get a thicker band with more tension or double up a resistance band and you can get great benefits by doing the right movement, the right way. With endurance athletes especially, you don’t want them to be completely fatigued so they can’t back up sessions - resistance bands create enough load to get you switching on the muscles you need. You can carry around a resistance band with you and achieve that activation wherever you go.
About the Author
Based in Sydney, Ben is at the forefront of Inspired Performance Strength and Conditioning, which focuses on building endurance athletes to become stronger and healthier through strength and nutrition coaching. Ben himself has journeyed through the health and fitness industry, losing just over 40kgs himself and now conquering his own endurance and performance goals. Inspired Performance provides programs either face to face or remotely via email, depending on the needs of the athlete. Athletes that have experienced the IP programming have been taken on their respective journey to become healthier, stronger and faster athletes.