Most people fail when trying to combine strength work and endurance training because of three things: poor timing, too many repetitions and unnecessary exercises. What I’ve found over the last three years is how to combine the two worlds and take out all the fluff. What will provide the biggest impact to my training in the least amount of time? What can I do that’s high quality verses high quantity?
When I first started, I would separate three hours between any strength and endurance work that was to be done on the same day. I’ve found that am and pm sessions or 6 plus hours in between sessions is even better. Strength only days are even best especially for beginners. It takes time to adapt to the new training. Your working different muscle fibers than you’re used too. Soreness will be normal at first. It’s also a balancing act because you do not want to take too much out of your legs so you can still perform at a high level in your sport. Your strength program should never take away from your sport. It has to compliment what you do and become worked into the master plan.
My schedule changes every week so how I stay on track comes down to my ability to schedule in the exact times that I’m committing to workout. Literally, blocking off the times in my schedule. It’s just like preparing your lunch in advance. Make it the night before and it’s that much easier in the morning. When I apply this to my weekly schedule it also helps ensure recovery.
Breaking workouts up is critical, but what I do and how much of it in a strength workout ensures proper recovery and enhancement for the sport. You don’t need to do a thousand reps when training for endurance! Main moves (I.E. if I squat heavy) I keep it to thirty reps or less, and when doing accessory work (I.E. pull-ups) repetitions are usually less than sixty. This ensures that I still train for muscular strength verses muscular endurance. This amount of volume is enough to get the job done. I’m getting plenty of muscular endurance work out on the roads or in scheduled conditioning workouts.
The last piece here is selecting appropriate exercises. All I ever ask myself is how will this exercise benefit my sport? If it’s for the hamstrings and glutes I’m all in, but throw in high volume barbell snatches and I’ll be making my exit. For those who are not familiar with a snatch, it’s highly technical barbell movement where you take a barbell from the floor to overhead in one swift movement. Sure snatches have value in strength and conditioning, but are they of critical use to the endurance athlete? Especially one who doesn’t have the time to work on the technique (sport technique is way more important) in an already jam-packed schedule? You should know my answer by now.
Make a plan every week that works in strength and conditioning, allow the proper time for recovery and select the appropriate exercises, loads, and number of repetitions for you. This can get so indivdualize that’s the beauty of this approach…
Week two of training towards the New Orleans 70.3 is now in the books with no complaints at all. The body is recovering well and seems to be adapting to the new strength selections. I was able to hit all of my scheduled workouts and even sandwich in a bear crawl, partner-carry, burpee, squat workout with Lindsay on Saturday in between my run and bike. None of which is necessary for Half Ironman training, but all in good fun for Valentine’s Day. You have to work in fun throughout your training without taking away from the primary goal.
(AM Session) Tuesday Conditioning
10 rounds of: 12 Pushups – Swim 100m, Rest 2minutes between sets
Purpose: Swim Strength. Speed. Pacing. Muscular Endurance. VO2Max Development. Test Technique under Fatigue.
Duration: 60minutes (5min WU – 15min Drills)
This has been a tough progression each week, but has certainly fulfilled the purpose. By combining a common bodyweight exercise that uses the same muscle groups as the swim, I’m forcing my body to maintain technique under fatigue. In addition, I have kept the intensity high to develop speed and stamina all the time monitoring pacing. By combining a sport specific interval session with the pushups it also decreases the amount of time I’ll have to spending doing a separate conditioning workout to develop swim musculature. Also, the looks I’m getting a Island Rec are well worth the testing of this workout!