Resistance Training for Endurance Athletes

Resistance Training for Endurance Athletes

By Ani Karina S. de Leon

Most endurance athletes have a very heavy training load, and a lot of the time, their career span greatly depends on their ability to stay away from injury and maintain a high level of fitness over prolonged periods.

Resistance Training

A lot of competitive coaches and elite athletes look to resistance training to aid them in this area, and here are some facts gathered from a study done by Jacques DeVore of Titan Sports Performance Center, as cited in his extensive paper, “Strength Training and Endurance Athletes: The Missing Link:”

1) Research shows that resistance training aids endurance athletes.
2) Properly managed resistance programs goal should be focused on power development.
3) Coaches should understand the correlation of resistance training protocols and the sports specific training required.
4) The ability of the athlete to produce higher overloads in sports specific training sessions is the biggest benefit for the endurance athlete.
5) Increased core strength and overall improvement in muscle imbalances helps prevent overuse injuries. This is in addition to the added benefits of power production from appropriate resistance training programs.  

IMWA 2007 360

From the items mentioned above, we can gather that resistance training is an effective tool for endurance athletes.  But it is very important to note that their studies also specify a certain type of resistance training suited for the said individuals.

So, what consists of a good resistance training program for someone involved in endurance activities?  Mr. DeVore goes on to conclude the following:

“The real measurement of a good resistance training program for a cyclist or other endurance athlete is that it creates a platform for the athlete to produce greater power output during sports specific training sessions.  This allows the athletes to have greater overloads in their actual sport specific training.”

Sounds really good, but how do we apply these theories and incorporate them into our routine?

Circuit Training

Good old circuit training, which dates back to the 1970s, have been greatly downplayed in the recent years, but unjustly so, in our opinion.  Circuit workouts are modest in length and they are beneficial not only for the muscular system but also for the cardiovascular system, and scientific research through the years has backed up these claims.  Individuals who were tested made progress with their VO2max values and treadmill endurance times.  They improved muscular strength, and since possessing this seems to decrease muscular fatigue during exercise, it allowed the athletes to exercise longer.

According to the authorities at Peak Performance lab, “the continuous nature of circuit training tends to keep heart rate and oxygen consumption high throughout the workout. You are always doing something, so the muscles keep using oxygen to furnish the necessary fuel, and the heart keeps pumping oxygen to the muscles. High heart rates and oxygen-consumption rates during workouts tend to heighten VO2max.”

Sample Workout

The following routine was developed by Peak Performance, and is perfect for endurance athletes.  It is an excellent workout in the sense that the athlete can perform it comfortably anywhere he/ she is training as there is no need for it to be done inside the gym.

Warm up with 10 to 15 minutes of easy jogging, swimming or cycling, and then perform the following exercises in order. Move quickly from exercise to exercise, but don’t perform the exercises themselves too quickly (don’t sacrifice good form just to get them done in a hurry). The idea is to do each exercise methodically and efficiently – and then almost immediately start on the next one.

1.  Run 400 metres at current 5-K race pace (if you’re a swimmer, swim 100 metres at high intensity; if you’re a cyclist pedal for 1600 metres at a high rate of speed)
2. Do 5 chin-ups
3. Complete 36 ab crunches
4. Perform 15 squat thrusts with jumps
5. Do 15 press-ups
6. Complete 30 body-weight squats (fast)
7. Run 400 metres at 5-K pace again (if you’re a swimmer or cyclist, see step 1)
8. Do 12 squat and dumbbell presses (with 10-pound dumbbells, or if outside the gym, use two equally-sized, filled up water bottles)
9. Complete 10 feet-elevated press-ups
10. Perform 36 low-back extensions
11. Do 15 bench dips
12. Complete 15 lunges with each leg
13. Run 400 metres at 5-K pace
14. Repeat steps 2-13 one more time (for two circuits in all), and then cool down with about 15 minutes of light jogging, swimming, or cycling.

 George Run


1. Strength Training and Endurance Athletes: The Missing Link.” Jacques DeVore, Titan Sports Performance Center

2. Peak Performance Website.

3. “Resistance Training For Endurance Athletes.”  Mark Kovacs, High Performance Training.

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