I hope that your training is going swimmingly, no pun intended. Well before I run away with my cheesy puns ( OK I’ll stop) lets crack on with the topic of today. Enjoy the Ride through my blog below J
In this blog I want to explore some common opinions and questions surrounding a hot topic in the Triathlon community which is …. Strength training:
Common opinions and questions!
“Why spend time strength training when I can spend that time, running, biking and swimming”
“Will Strength Training interfere with my main focus”
“Endurance athletes do not need to do any strength training; our training should be what we are primarily doing”
“I already do enough training”
“I will be too sore”
“If I am doing strength training what should I do?”
To address this I will:
1- Look at the research- because where opinions are great, more often or not the results proven using credible, reliable, accurate data might be the “most appropriate” option to take especially for coaches.
2- Recommendations on where and how to implement strength training
3- Throw in 2 sample strength sessions that are most appropriate to certain phases in your training cycle, General Preparation and pre- competition.
Strength Training for Endurance Athletes.
There has been an increase in research carried out highlighting the benefits of incorporating strength training into endurance athletes training such as:
· Delay in fatigue.
· Allows a great cross training option.
· *Possible preventative measure against injury* this needs another blog, but let us say it may and may not*.
· Positive health effects can be found on hormonal levels, in bone health, body composition and metabolism.
· Improvements in Maximal Strength.
· Improvements in Running Economy (Re) Cycling economy (Ce) and threshold holds.
What is strength? Well depending on the type of strength it can be defined as the amount of force that a muscle(s) can produce maximally or sub maximally over a sustained period of time.
As an athlete we aim to be more powerful. In order to increase force, velocity and power there must be an appropriate dose of stress applied to the muscles via strength / power training.
· Power = Force * Velocity.
· Force is Mass *acceleration
· Velocity is Displacement / Time
What the research says:
Josué Gómez-Molina et.al (1) found that Concurrent plyometric and running training entails a reduction in step rate, as well as increases in peak speed and VO2max. Which have a positive transfer to endurance athletes
In this study they took 25 participants and compared the effect of an 8 week concurrent plyometric and running training on spatiotemporal parameters and physiological variables of novice runners. The trail was divided into two groups a running group only and a running + plyometric group. The running and plyometric group had two plyometric training sessions per week. The study measured VO2max, heart rate and Running economy and spatiotemporal variables (contact and flight times, step rate and length) before and after.
They found that the running plyometric group had a reduction in step rate, as well as increases in peak speed and VO2max. Concluding that athletes could benefit from plyometric training in order to improve their strength and running speed.
Nicola Giovanelli et.al (2) found that Strength, explosive and plyometric training positively affected endurance performance. . Ultra-endurance athletes could improve their training programme by adding 2–3 sessions/week of strength, explosive and plyometric training.
Luckin, K.,et.al (3) found that a progressive strength program completed 2 days per week with endurance training can significantly improve Cycling Economy (Ce), Running Economy (Re) and Energy Cost (Ec) in long distance triathletes. The improvements in Ce, Re and Ec are likely to contribute to improvements in cycling and running performance and possibly overall triathlon performance.
Recommendations on where and how to implement strength training:
The training calendar of an athlete should be based around their A race. Based on general periodization guidelines an athlete’s training year plan is broken up in the following phases. Strength training may differ in each stage:
1- The General preparation phase– In this phase there is a focus on building base strength, endurance, stability and core strength. It might be favorable to strength train 2 x per week. Depending on time availability and focus.
2- Specific Preparation Phase- In this phase there is a shifting focus from building base strength, endurance, stability and core strength to power training, pure strength, hypertrophy and plyometric training. It might be favorable to strength/ power train 1 x per week. Depending on time availability and focus.
3- Pre Competition Phase- In this phase there is a focus on power training, pure strength, hypertrophy and plyometric training. It might be favorable to strength/ power train 1 x per week. Depending on time availability and focus.
4- Competition Phase- In this phase the focus is on the elements to be raced swim/ bike / run. If time permits 1 x session may be included as a means to cross train, but normally not included.
5- Recovery Phase– The objective of the recovery phase is to recuperate the body and mind. Depending on the athlete 2 x low intensity strength sessions may be included
Sample Endurance Session click https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/2da876_a99ccfd84293414ea86260e212c6886a.pdf
Sample Power Session click
Thank you all for taking the time to read this blog. I hope that it has helped.
Until next time keep Tri – ing
1- Josué Gómez-Molina, Ana Ogueta-Alday, Jesus Camara, Christopher Stickley & Juan García-lópez (2018) Effect of 8 weeks of concurrent plyometric and running training on spatiotemporal and physiological variables of novice runners, European Journal of Sport Science, 18:2, 162-169, DOI: 10.1080/17461391.2017.1404133
2- Luckin, K., Badenhorst, C., Hoyne, G., Cripps, A., Landers, G. & Merrells, R. 2018, "Strength training improves cycling and running economy in long distance triathletes", Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, vol. 21, pp. S30-S30.
3- Nicola Giovanelli, Paolo Taboga, Enrico Rejc & Stefano Lazzer (2017) Effects of strength, explosive and plyometric training on energy cost of running in ultra-endurance athletes, European Journal of Sport Science, 17:7, 805-813, DOI: 10.1080/17461391.2017.1305454