2012 CrossFit Games competitors during Event 1: Pendleton. Athletes had to complete a 700-meter swim, their next tasks were an 8-kilometer bike ride and an 11.3-kilometer run/hike through Pendleton’s hills.  

As spring is underway and summer coming on its heels, many of us are spending more time outdoors and diving into the running, swimming, and/or biking season.  Incorporating strength training in preparation for endurance events may seem counter-productive since more muscle means more energy expended to cool and carry; however, power and strength isn't always directly proportional to muscle mass though there is a point of diminishing returns for an endurance athlete building muscle.  We will go through today why endurance athletes can benefit from strength training.

Mark Allen, is a six-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion, described his experience as a athlete chasing the elusive Ironman Triathlon win:

I fought going to the gym for years until I reached my mid-30s. Suddenly, speed work started to look more like steady-state training, and I could no longer override a lack of power on climbs with desire. My race performances started to suffer. I could see that even with a huge volume of miles out on the roads, my fitness was not what it was in my 20s. - "Mark Allen's 12 Best Strength Exercises"

He then started strength training and within one season of incorporating it, he went on to win the Triple Crown of Triathlon: the Nice International Triathlon, the Zofingen duathlon, and the Hawaii Ironman

Ben Greenfield outlines the following benefits in "The Necessity of Strength Training For Endurance Athletes":

  • Recruitment of more motor control units. A motor control unit consists of a nerve and all the muscles it stimulates.  The signal strength from the nerve to the muscle dictates whether or not the muscle will contract. Slow-twitch muscles, or endurance muscle fibers, don't need as strong of a signal to contract. On the other hand, fast twitch muscles, explosive muscle fibers, require a stronger signal to fire. Strength training works by recruiting more motor units at a given time; more recruited motor units means more muscle fibers firing, ultimately leading to greater force production.  
  • Injury prevention is a demonstrated benefit for lowering injury rates of the shoulders, knees, hamstrings, low back, and ankles. This can be attributed to the correction of a muscular imbalance (think pistols helping in a squat where the imbalance from one side to the other becomes much more apparent) and to increased ability and range of motion of a joint .
  • The hormones produced in endurance training is different from those produced by strength training. Strength training produces anabolic hormones such as testosterone, which is linked decreased body fat and better moods. 

There are a multitude of benefits for an endurance athlete incorporating strength training, and even if you aren't one, the benefits of strength training for everyone are undeniable.

A. Squat therapy 2 mins accumulated at bottom of squat w/barbell
B. Scapular mobility

HBBS 1x20 

L-sit on paralette or pull up bar

Row 1000m

5 Push Jerk 115/75
Row 500m
10 Push Jerk
Row 250m
15 Push Jerk
Row 100m
20 Push Jerk