Use your own body weight to gain strength
There’s nothing like accomplishing a long anticipated goal. Whether it was weeks of training for your first 5k or months of training for a marathon or triathlon this fall you may have noticed changes not only physically, but also mentally.
If you were training for a marathon you may have woken up each morning with a set workout that progressed each week. Perhaps, you looked forward to social weekend long runs with friends, and I bet your eating habits even improved for the better to support your energy demands.
All that hard work paid off and you were able to complete the race. Whether you achieved your goal or wish to improve upon your performance the next go around you may find yourself asking, “now what?”
As you head into the off-season you don’t have to give up your “training routine” per se. Hopefully there’s a future event on the 2010 calendar that you would like to prepare for. Even if it’s far off like the August Annapolis 10-miler or Eagleman Triathlon you can still work towards reducing your risk of injury, becoming stronger and more efficient through strength training this winter.
Why Strength Train?
Strength training isn’t just for bodybuilders. It’s is a vital component of fitness whether you’re an athlete or not. Strength training helps to maintain lean muscle mass, control weight, increase strength for everyday activities, and helps reduce the risk of injuries.
As we age our strength decreases approximately 10% between ages 20-50 years, but after age 50 strength decreases at a much faster rate due to a decrease in muscle fibers and becoming less active. Strength training can help to reduce the loss of lean muscle mass.
Maintaining lean muscle mass is important since it requires more energy than fat, thus burns more calories, which aids in weight management. The results of strength training can impact your current amount of lean muscle mass, but the process in itself can help burn more calories at rest. According to a study at Colorado State University (Fort Collins) weight training increased metabolic rate for up to 15 hours after the workout.
The subjects averaged an extra 51 calories burned at rest due to oxidation of body fat. In comparison, the cycling group burned 27 additional calories.
Strength training also helps to reduce injuries by stabilizing joints for more efficient movement patterns. The muscles work together to produce movement. If a muscle is overused and the opposing muscle is weak there is an imbalance. This can lead to compensation and injury to the muscles as well as the joint as it is not able to function in proper alignment.
What This Means For Endurance Athletes
For endurance sports the main components for performance are to increase Vo2Max and economy, which is associated with biomechanics, how efficient the movement is, and bioenergetics, how the body produces and utilizes energy. How do you improve upon this? Practice and perform your sport!
The time it takes to train for endurance events is practically a second job. The off-season is a good time to reduce volume and focus on weaknesses and improve strength and power levels for next season.
Strength training will make you stronger, more coordinated, more powerful, and even help you break through plateaus. If you’re worried about weight training making you slower don’t fret. Reports show that “when a ten week (3x/week) strength training program was added to a run and cycle program after the group had leveled off in endurance performance, the group experienced a 30% increase in strength, but without hypertrophy. Cycle time to exhaustion at 80% increased from 71-85 minutes” (Powers, 283).
Strength training will also help you maintain a healthy weight throughout the holiday season despite inevitable indulgences here and there. This will help you prepare for an ideal body composition and race weight when spring rolls around.
Months of running or cycling uses the same muscles in the same patterns over and over again, which can result in opposing muscles becoming weak leading to injury. A study published in Clinical Biomechanics investigated whether an increase in hip strength affects lower extremity mechanics during running. After a 6 week strengthening program the 15 healthy female subjects experienced strength gains in hip abduction and external rotation. Rearfoot inversion and knee abduction decreased. These changes result in “an alteration of lower extremity joint loading that may reduce injury.”
Bottom line: It will all add up to equal a faster time and maybe even a new personal record.
Strength Training Exercises to Try
Some endurance athletes don’t belong to a gym, because most of their training time is spent outdoors as they acclimate themselves to race like conditions.
While a gym may be a good idea this winter to keep you active when you feel limited by mother nature, and provides you with more variety as far as strength training equipment goes, you can improve your performance in a time efficient routine in the comfort of your own home with minimal equipment.
Equipment: Resistance band, Dumbbells, Stability Ball
Push-Up to Row
Strengthens back, chest, core. Promotes upper body muscle endurance and strength
1. In push-up starting position grip dumbbells
2. Perform a push-up
3. When you return to start position perform a single arm row
4. Repeat and perform on opposite arm
Perform 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions per arm
Lateral band walk
Strengthens hip abductor complex. Promotes stability of the hips
1. Wrap resistance band around both feet
2. Spread feet hip width apart and come into a squat position
3. Laterally extend one leg out
4. Remain in squat position bring the opposite leg to meet it
5. Repeat on opposite leg
Perform 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions per leg
Leg extension on the Ball
Strengthens quadriceps, core. Promotes stability of the knee
1. Wrap resistance band around your feet
2. Sit up straight on a stability ball, engage your core bringing your navel in towards your spine
3. Keep one leg bent 90 degrees as you extend the opposite leg
4. Hold for 1-2 seconds at full extension
5. Lower down and repeat on opposite leg
Perform 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions per leg