Strength training for the endurance athlete – Self Defense Blog

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It is quite common for endurance athletes (runners, cyclists, triathletes, etc.) to avoid strength training as part of their training program. If the athlete does any strength training, it is usually at a very low intensity and volume, usually avoiding the legs because “my legs work enough in my training.” But is strength training beneficial or detrimental to the endurance athlete?

Endurance activities are nourished by high levels of cardiorespiratory and muscular endurance. An efficient cardiorespiratory system will improve peak oxygen uptake, stroke volume, and overall cardiac output. Together, this allows the heart to pump more blood to working tissues, supplying them with oxygen and nutrients. A healthy neuromuscular system will help ensure strength, muscular endurance, and the rate of production of adequate force (power). To improve both aspects of performance, a combination of aerobic and strength training activities may be the best approach. Unfortunately, many endurance athletes avoid strength training for fear that it may hamper their VO2 max. or result in unwanted muscle hypertrophy (larger muscles) and weight gain. However, this is not entirely true, if it is done in a systematic and organized way.

There is compelling evidence that strength training does not improve VO2 max or lactate threshold for previously trained endurance athletes because the aerobic intensity and duration is too low. However, it can improve the economy of the race. According to Jung, VO2 max is not compromised when strength training is added to resistance training. Additionally, running economy has been shown to improve by up to 8% after a strength program. This is due to improved neuromuscular efficiency (coordinated movement) and force production.

The high intensity strength training and plyometrics improve muscle capacity to use more elastic energy and reduce the amount of energy wasted on braking forces. By improving the stretch-shortening cycle and limiting braking forces, strength training has the potential to improve running economy and prevent overuse injuries.

Given the evidence, endurance athletes can benefit from incorporating a strength training program into their overall training program.

The main reasons and recommendations for strength training in endurance sports:

  1. Performance improvement.
  2. Injury prevention.
  3. Improvement in the athlete’s efficiency.


  1. Perform the exercises at the maximum speed of execution
  2. Perform plyometric training.
  3. Take care of the workload. (60% – 80% of the maximum load you can move (1RM) or a perception of effort between 8 to 6 on a scale of 0 to 10)
  4. Number of repetitions. Between 6 and 12 repetitions depending on the load and the objective.

Strength routine to do outdoors:

  1. JUMP SQUAT 3 x 10-12
  2. UNILATERAL DEAD WEIGHT 3 x 10 (per leg)
  3. PLATES 2 x 10 rep x 10 ″ (x repeat)
  4. GLUTE BRIDGE 2 x 8-10 (hold 3 ” – 4 ” contraction x rep)
  5. BULGARIAN SQUAT 3 x 10 – 12 (per leg)
  6. SIDE PLANK 2 x 10 rep x 5 ″ (x repeat) x side

Perform the complete routine one day a week or divide the routine into 3 exercises (1-2-3 / 4-5-6) to do it on two different days. Don’t do it in competition weeks.

Enjoy the “Outdoor DIR” activities, through, and enjoy your favorite workouts and programs, outdoors.


Jordi Notario



  1. Jung AP. The impact of resistance training on distance running performance. Sports Med. 2003;33(7):539-552.
  2. Knuttgen HG. Strength training and aerobic exercise: Comparison and contrast. J Strength Cond Res. 2007;21(3):973-978. 10.1519/R-505011.1.
  3. Mikkola JS, Rusko HK, Nummela AT, Paavolainen LM, Hakkinen K. Concurrent endurance and explosive type strength training increases activation and fast force production of leg extensor muscles in endurance athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2007;21(2):613-620. 10.1519/R-20045.1.
  4. Saunders PU, Pyne DB, Telford RD, Hawley JA. Factors affecting running economy in trained distance runners. Sports Med. 2004;34(7):465-485.