Learn why it’s important to incorporate strength and conditioning into your program
Many endurance athletes believe increasing their training volume will improve their performance. However, increases in volume and intensity alone does not always improve results. In fact, research has shown that concurrent strength and endurance training can increase performance to a greater extent than endurance training alone!
How does strength training help?
First, we must establish that strength refers to the ability of our muscles to create force for movement. Whilst it does involve changes in the physical quality of muscles, it is also the ability to optimise coordination of muscle recruitment to generate efficient movements.
Strength training can facilitate the development of these movement patterns through:
1- Neural adaptation – Optimising messages from the brain to the muscles to turn on and synchronise activation with other muscles
2- Tissue adaptation – Tendons become stiffer to better cope with loads, muscles increase capacity to meet demands in a fatigued state and bones can be more resilient to the loads imposed on them.
3- Increased force production – Changes in muscle fibre size or number, known as peripheral adaptations, leads to increased ability to generate power.
Evidence shows that 2 x strength training sessions a week over 12 – 20 weeks resulted in improved running economy. This was due to positive changes in Achilles tendon stiffness, meaning more energy transfer from each foot strike, increased peripheral capacity, which is improved ability of muscles to take up oxygen from the blood and improved ability to generate maximal force.
Performance enhancement is only one aspect of what strength training has to offer. The tissue adaptations described above also help with injury prevention. Improved resilience helps with the prevention of the endurance athletes dreaded overuse injury.
But, can’t I get strong by running hills, riding in the big gear or wearing paddles in the pool?
The easy answer is yes. However, the strength gains are limited. The way you recruit the muscles in these movements is different to how you recruit them when lifting against resistance. The joint ranges we work in on the bike, when running or swimming are small and the contraction types differ. Improvements in strength only come when we stress the muscles using increasingly challenging loads through whole joint ranges, and with all muscle contraction types.
Do I need an individualised strength program?
Putting together the right program for you is the challenge. A good strength program incorporates the right movements and the right loads at the right time in your training cycle for you and your sport. Previous injuries and current niggles need to be considered. Selected exercises need to have transferable qualities to your chosen sport.
SquareOne Performance Physios are well placed to lead you through program design. We understand injury rehab and we have 1st hand experience with endurance sports. Our 1 on 1 performance programs are designed from both our assessment of you, and the goals you outline. An initial one hour assessment with your SquareOne Performance Physio to discuss your goals, current level of fitness, injury history and perform a musculoskeletal screening to determine your technique, strength base and areas that we need to address. After the assessment you will move into our Performance Program where you will continue training under the guidance and coaching of your SquareOne Performance Physio.
We also run Tri Specific Classes that incorporate general strength and pilates informed exercises. Each class is an hour in duration and focuses on the movement patterns specific to swim, bike and run.
Sessions are available on Tuesday mornings at our Practice in Bridgepoint Mosman, and Tuesday evenings in the Balgowlah clinic.
If you would like to discuss your case further with our Performance Physio Staff please call 9968 3424.