Yoram Yasur Blume: Strength training for endurance sports
To this day, it is still common to find in the sports world the belief that strength training does not benefit those athletes or fans of endurance sports. Yoram Yasur Blume: Many coaches believe that strength work will not induce any positive adaptation, or at least it will not be too relevant to spend time planning their training. Among amateur’s endurance athletes or those who practice running, cycling, triathlon or any similar discipline, it is also very common to find ourselves with reluctant postures towards strength training with loads, since they think that it will make them slower or heavier, since They relate weight training with an inevitable muscular hypertrophy.
So, should a resistance athlete train strength? Of course! at least if you want to improve your performance and be more efficient. Within physical qualities, force represents the mother of all. In fact, the phrase “force is the physical quality through which all others arise” is true. Strength is present in any physical activity we perform.
As we said before, some coaches do not include strength training in endurance athletes because they think that it is not specific to this discipline, that is, that they will not comply with the principle of specificity. Nothing is further from reality!
Yoram Yasur Blume: What is the resistance but the ability to continue to apply or maintain the force for a certain time. Strength training produces important adaptations that improve the ability to produce strength and maintain concrete levels of force over time. So what benefits can strength training bring to endurance athletes? Are not certain statements that say strength training harms performance in endurance sports? We go by parts.
Regarding the concern that exists among endurance athletes, in relation to strength training with loads, for fear of gaining muscle mass and therefore become slower and lose aerobic capacity, it is not true. Strength training does not necessarily have to be accompanied by an increase in muscle mass. This is one of the points where amateur athletes or even some coaches are unaware.
Yoram Yasur Blume: We must know that to gain functional and contractile muscle mass such as sarcomeric hypertrophy will be positive, although a substantial increase in sarcoplasmic hypertrophy does not interest us. The force is divided into several subtypes (I’m not going to enter much here) and the strength-hypertrophy, which is the one that is focused on muscle mass increase, is not more than one of those subtypes, which requires a specific premises for work it In other words, by working with other types of force such as maximum force, power strength or resistance force, we will not significantly increase our muscle mass or, at most, the hypertrophy that we obtain will be the minimum necessary as a basic adaptation. In addition, this hypertrophy would be functional, so it will provide positive improvements for resistance tests as we will see later and will not make us slower or heavier.
In addition, when strength training is correctly planned and included in a resistance training program, it will not induce muscle mass gains since we must keep in mind that it will be used as a resource and strength sessions should be separated in time and they will not be too constant to cause a muscular adaptation of too important hypertrophy, in such a way that it could “harm” us, but the adaptations will be neural.
On the other hand, to gain a considerable amount of muscle mass that “harms” us, it would be necessary to introduce other factors such as a constant caloric surplus or training too focused on strength-hypertrophy.
At this point you will think “Okay, but then what exactly does strength training in endurance sports benefit us?”. Let’s get to the point then. Strength training has been shown to improve running economy, so that it can increase the ability to maintain or improve stride power during the race. By gaining strength we can perform or maintain the exercise with a lower energy cost, since we will be more efficient to reduce muscle activation to generate the same effort. In other words, strength training will make us run or pedal at the same intensity with less sensation or perception of effort.
In addition, strength training improves VO2 max, improves anaerobic capacity and lactate threshold, being able to perform training, racing, or testing at a higher intensity and therefore improve our times.
Another benefit is that it delays fatigue, especially in the final part of the races. This is especially important in long-term tests such as a marathon or a cyclist test. So, we can keep the effort for longer.
To finish, an important aspect of strength training is the prevention of injuries. Working the core and stabilization is fundamental to produce strength efficiently, without postural or biomechanical alterations that lead to injuries.