Endurance for Strength

Strength training is a tricky subject for an endurance athlete.

Particularly if you’re a recreational athlete, it’s hard to see the benefits of being “strong.” When you look at the elites, they rarely look like our typical definition of strong, right? When you look at your extremely endurance-capable friends, do they look “strong” compared to a football player? Nope.

So why do endurance athletes need to work on their strength?

The answer to this is fairly simple. While these capable endurance athletes couldn’t bench press a truck, they certainly have small intrinsic muscles that enable efficient power transmission.

Speaking of transmission, let’s chat a little about my favorite performance analogy, that of an athlete is like a car. We’ve all heard this used in some senses when we talk about how big of an “engine” someone has. This means that a person has a large aerobic capacity. They can breathe reaaaally hard, and typically can go fairly fast in an endurance activity. But what we don’t typically discuss is the transmission that goes along with that engine. Just like in a car, you have something that generates power (the engine).

But you have to have something that turns that power into MOTION.

In a car, that’s the transmission (thus the name, eh?) In a human athlete, the transmission is the musculoskeletal system. If you are weak in a certain area (and I don’t just mean compared to a football player), then not all of the power generated by your engine is used for motion.

Here’s a simple way I think about it: Have you ever ridden a bike with a rusty chain, gears that skip, and not quite enough air in the tires? That’s what being an endurance athlete without strength training is like. Your engine may very well be strong enough to continue to be fast/capable compared to your friends without strength training, but it’s certainly nowhere near your potential. 

What’s the fix? There are lots of options! They range from a simple bodyweight circuit every morning to daily personal time with a professional strength coach. What is best for you? It depends a lot on your strengths and weaknesses, your goals, and your budget. Obviously as a performance gym, we believe wholeheartedly in the value of working with professional strength coaches.

Curious if Dryland is for you? Come take a class! The first class is free for locals at Dryland Breck!

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