Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

November 23, 2010 | Featured in the Back To School 2011 Issue

Must See Conditioning Videos

When endurance athletes enter a strength training program, it is essential that they regard their training plan as another endurance event. To most people, strength training for endurance athletes implies high reps and high volume, but in reality, it can be done many different ways.

When training endurance athletes, one option is to increase their cardiac output and VO² max [i.e., the volume of oxygen they can consume while exercising at their maximum capacity]. It’s also important to train oxidative capacity [i.e., the amount of oxygen a muscle can use during an aerobic workout] and the contractile capacity of muscles involved in executing the movements.

Training for endurance athletes involves strength work as well as corrective exercises, particularly for the shoulders, back and core. By building these muscle groups, body alignment and posture can be improved and maintained—important for a long event. Since endurance athletes compete for prolonged periods of time, their training must deliver benefits from the beginning of an event to the end.

I have seen the benefits of strength training firsthand by working with collegiate cross country runners. During a busy season of races, these endurance athletes are able to lift only twice a week, so their training involves full body workouts on each of those days. The team begins with plyos and progresses through powerful lifts, always finishing with core and hip work.

Below are a few lower body strength exercises that can be used. Single-leg strength and stability are critical, so focus on exercises that train them. Use the following exercises to develop muscular endurance:

Barbell Half-Squat Jumps: Vertical jumps from a semi-squat position with barbell on shoulders
Scissor Lunge Jumps: Vertical jumps from a split stance, alternating while in the air
Box Jumps
Weighted Squat Jumps
Resistance Exercises: With a weight plate on the quad, drive the knee up from a standing position, or perform ground-based hip raises

Ben Fleming is an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the University of Central Florida. In addition to assisting with the Knights’ football program, he oversees strength programs for numerous other sports, including track & field, softball, and men’s and women’s tennis. Fleming is a certified strength and conditioning coach, and he holds a Level 1 coaching certification from USA Weightlifting. He is also certified by Pat Etcheberry, one of the top tennis and golf strength and conditioning coaches in the world. Fleming earned his bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation administration from Wingate University, where he was also a member of the soccer team. In 2009, he earned a master of arts in health/wellness and applied exercise physiology from UCF.

Ben Fleming
- Ben Fleming is an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the University of Central Florida. In addition to assisting with the Knights’ football program, he...
Ben Fleming
- Ben Fleming is an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the University of Central Florida. In addition to assisting with the Knights’ football program, he...
Must See
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 37,127,207
Brandon Jennings: "Always Improve"
Views: 4,159,975
Michael Jordan: Mind of a Champion
Views: 546,375

Featured Videos

A Day in the Life of NBA D-League Star Seth Curry Views: 69,070
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 9,456
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 133,452
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,880
What Ryan Hall Eats for Breakfast
Views: 795,300
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,676
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,782
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,561,942

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Training Secrets of UFC Champion Johny Hendricks

STACK Challenge: Finish Strong

Get in Football Shape Fast With Metabolic Runs

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: The Hill

Who Invented the Burpee?

Get in Game Shape With 4 Conditioning Combos

WATCH: Ronda Rousey's Intense New Bag Drill

The Mount Everest Treadmill Challenge

LeBron James's Insane Conditioning Drill

In Defense of Cardio

Training with the Elevation Training Mask 2.0

STACK Challenge: The 10/10 Treadmill Challenge

How to Avoid Hockey Conditioning That Slows You Down

Alternatives to Boring Cardio Training

5 NBA Players Who Found Their Game After Losing Weight

Adeline Gray Is Going for Gold

7 Footwork Drills That Give You an Advantage

Test Your Toughness With the Who Dat? Challenge

Off-Season Conditioning: Full-Body Med Ball Workout

Obstacle Race Training: Get in Shape With This Finisher

Win the Fourth Quarter With These Basketball Sled Push Finishers

A Slo-Mo Must-See: Ike Taylor's 4-Man Battle Rope Squats

Can You Handle the Husker Toughness Test?

Get in Basketball Shape With the Right Workout

4 HIIT Workouts That Will Get You in Shape Fast

How Sporting Kansas City Stays 'Sporting Fit'

5 Brutal Sprint Drills That Push the Lactic Threshold

Get in Shape With This Basketball Conditioning Workout

Can You Survive the

Advanced High School Football Summer Conditioning Program

High-Intensity Interval Training: How Much Is Too Much?

How Much Conditioning Do You Really Need?

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Fartlek Run

Baseball Conditioning: Why You Need an Aerobic Base

Can You Pass Drew Brees' Conditioning Test?

4 Simple Drills to Improve Your Endurance

Improve Your Aerobic Fitness in the Off-Season

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Interval Sprints

LaTroy Hawkins' Epic Battle Ropes Workout

Understanding the Benefits and Risks of Altitude Training

Get in Shape With 5 Intense Lower-Body Finishers

STACK Challenge: 500-Meter Row

In-Season Baseball Pitcher Workout Program