Did your 2016 end with some nagging knee pain or tight hamstrings? Where you constantly pushing through some discomfort in your legs while running or cycling? If so, then it is possible that you’ve created imbalanced muscles due to the constant motion or running or cycling. In this case, it is often a good idea to get in the weight room and focus on general strength training to re-balance the muscles. Often times our quadriceps will overpower our hamstrings or glutes and create exceptionally tight legs which often lead to nagging pains. By spending a month or two building your glutes and hamstrings back up, you will alleviate the pain and allow your legs to function in a smooth motion again.
For some athletes, they want to continue to train for 12+ hours a week in the off-season. For them I feel its a great time to get in the weight room because it will help with balancing of muscles, but it also will give their mind a break from the continuous swim/bike/run. For these athletes, it’s just as much physical as it is mental which I find great value in. However, for the athlete who wants to dedicate more time to what they missed out on during the season, the weight room may not be the best place for them. If an athlete only has 5 hours a week to train during the off-season, they will be losing serious swim/bike/run fitness if you put them in the weight room for 3 hours a week. Lets not forget that the act of weight lifting is anaerobic by nature and the act of cycling/running is generally aerobic. Don’t think that lifting weights makes you faster aerobically, it does not. What weight lifting does for endurance athletes is simply injury prevention. Therefore, if you don’t have a ton of time in the off-season, you’re better off keeping your aerobic base in place vs getting to the weight room.
While you need to get away from specifics in the off-season for a while, it doesn’t mean you need to get away from your endurance training all together. For someone that is looking to take a big step up in cycling for 2017, it may serve them better to put most of their time on the bike over the off-season as opposed to splitting it between the weight room and cycling. Again, every athlete is different, but by going over your goals for 2017 you will begin to show the coach where you want to be and where your time needs to be during your off-season/pre-season. Goals can never be set too soon and they do lay the foundation for not only your specifics, but also how you build the off-season and if weights will come into play or not.
There are a lot of different factors that go into a weekly training plan for each specific athlete. However, when looking at weight training, it often comes down to athlete needs and their goals for 2017. What’s important for endurance athletes to understand is that weight training won’t make you faster directly, but it may allow you to keep training for longer (no injuries) which can lead to faster results. So while weight training can be a powerful tool to include in your endurance training schedule, it only serves as an additional component and should rarely ever be the main focus. With that being said, talk with your coach about 2017 and building your yearly goals. With a clear picture in mind, it’s often easy to see if weight training will help the athlete succeed or take away from their endurance abilities overall.