Endurance Training: The Missing Element


In this newsletter, we’ll discuss the missing element in endurance training. When I say endurance training, I mean any activity where you have to exert yourself at a constant pace for any longer than 3 minutes. This would include activities like swimming, jogging, cycling, etc.

The Missing Element in Endurance Training

Traditionally, if you were an endurance athlete, you just did (or do) your activity. If you’re a runner, you just jog. If you’re a swimmer, you just swim.

Unfortunately, you may notice that at some point, you have to work harder and harder just to get very small improvements. Another thing you may notice is that if you get fairly serious about your activity, you can get some injuries. They can be fairly major (like a hamstring tear, ACL tear, Achilles tear, etc.) or fairly minor (like a little twinge in your shoulder, or lower back stiffness).

Lucky for you that with strength training, you can both improve your speed and prevent injuries. How? I’m glad you asked.

Memorize this: the formula for speed in running is:

Speed = stride length x stride frequency

Stride length is simply how big each step you take is, and stride frequency is how quickly you move your legs in running.

Here’s an interesting tidbit: stride frequency is more or less the same regardless of whether you’re just getting started in jogging, or you’re the world record holder in your event. So what differentiates the world-class from the weekend warrior? Stride length is one of those things.

How do you improve stride length? The more force you put into the ground, the bigger your step. But if you put more force into the ground, won’t you get more tired faster? Not if you build your reserve of force. This is done through strength training.

If you’re an endurance athlete, strength training should only be performed about twice per week for 2-3 sets of 3-5 repetitions. The workouts would be fairly short (20-40 minutes).

Why this protocol for an endurance athlete? Because you need to be strong, but you don’t need the strength of a strength athlete. Yet twice a week is enough to improve your strength quite dramatically, especially considering that endurance athletes tend to have poor strength to begin with.

And don’t worry about adding muscle mass. Considering you are doing only 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps, and doing your endurance activity in addition to that, very little if any muscle will be built.

Strength Training for Injury Prevention

Strength training can also prevent injury. It strengthens tendons and ligaments in a way that endurance training doesn’t. Jogging is a very high impact activity. Imagine I told you to jump on one leg 2,500 times. You’d look at me like I was crazy. And yet, when you’re running only 5K, that’s exactly what you’re doing. Not only are you jumping up, but you’re jumping up and forward, which is even harder on your knees.

Or think of swimming. What if I told you to do 2500 arm circles? The same example applies here.

How do injuries happen? Injuries happen when your body can only perform for example 2400 jumps on one leg, and you ask it to perform 2500.

By increasing your reserve through strength training, you can prevent injuries. Imagine taking your body from only being able to perform 2400 jumps on one leg to 3000 jumps on one leg. Then, when you ask your body to do 2500 jumps on one leg, it can do the job without injury.


Until next week,




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