Endurance athletes need to lift weights. It is as simple as that. I have heard too many people say they do not want to lift because they are afraid of becoming a big and bulky body builder. The fact is, endurance athletes are doing too much cardio for the body to build the bulk most people think comes with lifting weights and the benefits of weight lifting are far too great to do without.
Strength training for endurance athletes comes with two major benefits. The most important one (in my opinion) is injury prevention. Strength training not only helps build strength in the muscles, but it can also help build strength in ligaments, tendons and bones. Stronger muscles and tendons are more capable of keeping bones and ligaments in alignment and protecting them during movement and impact.
A well rounded strength program will also help build muscle groups which are not commonly used during endurance training’s. These muscle groups can be key to preventing injury when the body is suddenly forced into a movement it is not accustom to and the muscle group called into action is weak from lack of use. While typically we would like to avoid these types of situations, a well-rounded strength program will help you avoid injury when they come up.
I have summed up all the other benefits of strength training into one general category, being stronger. Simply being stronger comes with so many benefits. Being stronger means better running economy (efficiency) which strength training has been proven to improve when performed on a regular basis. Improved running economy can mean the world of difference at the end of a 140.6 mile race when strength might be hard to come by.
Becoming stronger also leads to more lean muscle mass (not the same as being big and bulky) and having more lean muscle mass means the body can burn calories more efficiently by increasing the bodies’ metabolic rate. This not only allows the body to burn calories more efficiently during workout, but also means the body will burn more calories when it is resting, which you can look at in two ways…more doughnuts…or free weight loss…
If you are interested in lifting, make sure it’s alright with your doctor and if you aren’t sure where to start consult a personal trainer (I recommend this one). Weight lifting, when done incorrectly, can cause serious damage, so make sure you do a little research before you hit the gym.