Strength Training for Endurance Athletes


So in my experience as an endurance athlete (ha!) - or just training for these bigger events such as Marathons, Ultra Marathons, Triathlons I have always found one thing. Drop the strength training, and injury starts to creep in. No matter how many times I have been told to drop the strength and focus on getting more Km's in legs, Km's on bike etc - I have found that I consistently break down. There are alot of reasons why Endurance athlets choose not to use strength training and I will outline alot of my ideas as to why it is important to include it below! 

1) They don't want to "BULK".
Strength training isn't always about bulking. Its about increase the strength in the muscles you utilise the most. And due to the catabolic effect of endurance training (the break down of muscle/protiens), an increase in muscle mass is not likely. Strength train for efficiency and strength to adapt - not bulk.

2) They don't have "TIME"
Strenth Training for Endurance Athletes can be anything from a 30 Min HIIT Session to a specific weights training program in the gym. Twice a week is enough, and for 30 Minutes of HIIT Training you are likely to increase your V02 Max (The ablility of your body to carry oxygen during exercise) and increasing performance. Creating muscle, without bulking up and loosing muscle mas. A great way to build up your core strength too! I complete all of my strength trianing within 30 minutes, whether it be metafit ot weights. Easy.

3) Worried about "INJURY"
As I mentioned above - you are more likely to break down and become injured without strength training. Strength training performed correctly will do just the opposite. It will promote muscle fiber growth and keep you body moving.

4) I will be too "SORE" to manage the rest of my training load.
There is always the worry that heavy legs will hinder the benefits of your training. Sure - to begin with you maybe sore. If you aren't then you aren't doing it right. As with everything though your body will eventually adapt. Give it a few weeks of traing this way and I guarantee you that you will be okay. A tactic will be not to strength train within 2-3 days of your Invterval sessions. It's all about changing it up and seeing what works. Research has also shown that by performing your strength session on your interval day is okay too. Just give yourself a 3 hour gap to ensure proper recovery.

5) Will I be "OVERTRAINING" if I add in some strength training.
Yes - it does need to be managed. You can't go out every week and lift heavy or train to exhaustion. Like with your other training - you will need a plan and need to stick to that plan to see the benefits of your training. 

So - if you are wanting to train specifically for a sport - I have outlined a few below that will help increase your strength and some that are incorporated into your everyday training.

1 - Running
Strong runners need strong legs - as an outdoor trainer I would add the following into my sessions:

  • Squats - All kinds. Bodyweight, Weighted, Squat Jumps, Single Legged Squats
  • Lunges - Static, Walking, Plyometric
  • Jumps - Long Jumps, Tuck Jumps
  • Hill Climbs - A traditional Interval Workout with a difference. Add some weight to your runs with a Weighted Vest, Sandbag or Ruck

2 - Cycling
As above you will need strong legs... so without access to a gym.. lets include the following exercises

  • Squats - All kinds. Bodyweight, Weighted, Squat Jumps, Single Legged Squats
  • Lunges - Static, Walking, Plyometric
  • Other - Single Leg Cycling and Upright Rows and Tricep Dips to increase upper body

Strength is key to being successful, to maintaining a healthy bodyweight and completing your training injury free. If you are unsure how to add this into your regular programming please get in touch with me and we can discuss it in more detail. 

Personal Trainer / Chief Motivator
Work In Progress Fitness
Bootcamps - Personal Training - Perth Hills - Kalamunda - Lesmurdie


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Phone 0438 582 942

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