With the Tour de France recently coming to a close, some us may have had a bit of extra motivation to get out and get back into exercising. Whether cycling, running or swimming is your sport of choice, a little extra motivation is always helpful.
We know that some endurance athletes, both professional and amateur, can avoid strength training and replace it with more running or aerobic exercise in fear that their aerobic capacity or fitness may be at stake. The importance of strength in long distance sports can often be understated.
A recent article by Berryman looked at the effects of implementing strength training into the programs of endurance athletes of all levels and abilities. The study found that the athletes were more efficient at using energy for maximal power and force after using a strength program with no negative effects on their aerobic capacity. The study suggests that maximal force training was the most effective at increasing performance and that at least 2 strength sessions per week was necessary. So you might want to put some time aside in your current schedule to do some some squats, dead lifts, calf raises or even body weight exercises such as Chin ups or Push ups, depending on your sport.
The study also showed that the benefits of strength training were consistent through all levels of sport, professional or not. Yes, even if your a newbie trying to beat a personal best, both your health and your performance will benefit from some strength sessions.
Abstract to the article can be found here