Resistance Training in Endurance Athletes

Brent Miller
Resistance Training

Resistance Training in Endurance Athletes

Many endurance athletes are adding resistance training into their training routine. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends training major muscle groups 2 to 3 times per week simply to maintain or improve healthy, daily life. Resistance training for endurance athletes not only improves daily life, but can also improve your performance, recovery, and decrease risk of injury.

Resistance training is important for endurance athletes to:

  • Improved race times
  • Increased Lean Muscle Mass
  • Injury prevention
  • Improved flexibility

Improved Race Times

Adding various modes of resistance training into your training program improves total body strength, and specifically increases lower body strength.  The total increase in body strength allows for a more efficient race whether running, swimming, or biking. Varied resistance training programs will also improve your VO2Max (maximal oxygen uptake) as well as improve your energy expenditure, both of which can help greatly near the end of a race.

Improving your VO2Max lets you to use less oxygen at greater speeds, leading to higher sustained speeds. This relates directly to efficiently using your energy systems to their fullest and finishing any race strong!

Increased Lean Muscle Mass

Lean muscle mass plays many roles in our day to day lives and can have an even stronger impact on your endurance performance. Resistance training burns fat and increases your lean muscle mass. Increased lean muscle mass and decreased body fat help you become lighter, and run faster and longer.

Injury Prevention

Variation in resistance training programs strengthens the muscles and helps eliminate muscular imbalances. When our bodies are out of balance the body naturally compensates to protect the injured areas. Over time, this leads to chronic injury.  Resistance training activities helps cure the imbalances, allowing the body to work efficiently, effectively, and injury free!

Improved Flexibility

More often than not, flexibility is one element of a training program that is overlooked. A quality resistance training program will not only focus on strong form, but it will also focus on working through the full range of motion. Working through a full range of motion during training helps the muscles to lengthen and reach their full capacity during your endurance events. Greater flexibility in the hip girdle will provide increased mobility through the full gait cycle. Greater range in the gait cycle will allow for longer stride length,  and increased frequency ability will maximize efficiency.

Improved flexibility enhances your recovery between bouts of exercise.  When increasing your range of motion, you also increase blood flow to the working areas. This increase in blood flow promotes effective healing in the muscles, allowing you to train harder and more effectively.

Both form and function are crucial to the efficiency of a resistance training program. Seeking a personal trainer to assist in this can be the key to reaching the next level.


Stephanie Howe – Strength Training for Runners.

Jonathan Goodman – What are Strength Exercises for Runners?  The Science and the Programming.


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