Why should we not oppose Endurance and Resistance?

Working in resistance to improve endurance performance may seem counterintuitive, but it can be more beneficial than you think.

For many years, endurance athletes have avoided heavy work with weights. The idea was that the mass and volume gained would slow them down. But athletes and coaches now know that strength training is not only beneficial, but that it is necessary.

Being powerful is one thing, but not hurting yourself is another.

Weight training allows a strengthening of ligaments and tendons, as well as the creation of new neural pathways. This can help you stay healthy.

Strengthening your body will also allow you to endure more stress during training. These 2 elements imply consistency in training, and consistency brings results in terms of performance in race time.


Lift heavy weights and endurance performance?

Strength and endurance are the opposite of each other when it comes to duration of exercise and energy metabolism.

Training in maximum strength and maximum power makes the gap even greater. It may therefore seem counterintuitive that the development of maximum strength can bring benefits to endurance athletes. However, lifting heavy weights, sometimes also explosively, could be the key to unlocking your endurance potential.


Why ? Efficiency, strength and resilience

In the results of a meta-analysis of theInternational Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, endurance athletes (including runners, cyclists, cross-country skiers and swimmers) have been shown to benefit from the addition of a strength training component. These athletes have seen an improvement in the energy cost of motor skills, maximum power and maximum strength. Specifically, the researchers found that the series with high weight and low repetition provided endurance athletes with the best performance.

Lifting heavy weights is in direct correlation with endurance performance markers such as "exhaustion" time and time trials, thanks to the increase in resistance to muscle fatigue. It also gives athletes greater longevity in their respective sports.

In order to see performance results over time, athletes need their bodies to be resilient. In order to keep going faster and longer season after season, your body must be able to support increased loads without "breaking down". Lifting heavy weights acts as insurance for your body by strengthening tendons, ligaments, collagen and bone density.


How? 'Or' What? Low repetitions and adequate rest between sets

The strengthening protocol is 3-6 sets, 4-8 repetitions per set, with 2-5 minutes of rest between sets. Advanced athletes should be able to lift 85% of their 1 rep max. But as a general rule, you should aim to lift the heaviest weight you can maintain throughout the heats, without compromising your technique and / or your range of motion.

If this is the case, reduce your weight to a lighter weight to get the most out of the exercise and prevent injury.

The two "classic" bodybuilding mistakes of lifting a heavier weight and not getting enough rest between sets.

In other words, you need to get enough rest between sets so that your muscles recover enough to be able to continue lifting at maximum force. When you lift heavy weights, your body depends on the ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate- Phosphocreatine) energy production cycle for higher intensity muscle contractions, and once you have done a series with maximum effort, this cycle does not regenerate for 2-5 minutes. Not only does your strength decrease if you shorten your rest interval, but your body begins to depend on a different energy system to produce strength, which has the side effect of increasing muscle size, rather than strength.


When? Out of season in the preseason

Just as sport-specific training sessions need to be spread out over the year, there is a time for lifting heavy loads. It is important to start with an adjustment cycle, focused on mobility and stability, which prepares your body for increased loads. During this phase of your season, your overall training volume should be lower, so this is the perfect time to start your "lifting" program.

When transitioning to the season, sport-specific training becomes the priority again, and strength training should be used as a means of maintenance to support your swimming, biking and running sessions. Research shows that for endurance athletes, a significant improvement in strength and associated benefits comes from strength programs that last a minimum of 24 sessions. As with other sessions in your training plan, consistency is essential.

After an adaptation cycle, this table presents some general guidelines for the first phase of building maximum strength and power. As additional phases are added, the emphasis should be on heavier weights, with additional sets, and less repetitions per set.

Week Number Exercise Sets Repetitions
+1 Back Squat +3 +8
+4 Trap Bar Dead Lift +4 +4
+7 Front Squat +4 +4
+10 Hang clean +3 +6

Reference: Nicolas Berryman, Iñigo Mujika, Denis Arvisais, Marie Roubeix, Carl Binet, and Laurent Bosquet. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance 2018 13:1, 57-64
Inspired and translated from https://www.trainingpeaks.com

From a perspective of the sports nutrition, attention will be focused on increasing or maintaining dry muscle mass and rapid recovery after exercise.

A contribution in protein is therefore highly recommended. Particular attention will be paid to BCAA (branched chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine). The additional intake of these amino acids promotes protein synthesis in the muscle and helps prevent muscle damage associated with intense and prolonged exercise.

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