Endurance & Strength Training

I understand that this may be of little interest to most of you in this forum, but for the sake of possible discussion, it would be good to have any comments to the following suggestions:

  1. When it comes to the programme of an endurance athlete, weights should not just be added on top of current schedules

  2. When weights are added, volume should be reduced by 30-35%, or even more, as suggested by others

Actually, there are studies that support benefits after both adding them on top and after reducing overall volume, but the specific event that such practices are applied usually differs (e.g., cycling vs. running, or non weight-bearing vs. weight-bearing activities)

  1. More weight sessions should be done early on in the season (e.g., 3)

  2. Fewer weight sessions later on in the season (e.g., 1-2)

  3. When reducing volume, it might be preferable to reduce it from elements that conflict with strength gains (e.g., LSD sessions)

  4. Lance Armstrong is more the 20-25 rep guy, while Paula Radcliffe more of the <10 rep athlete; depends on event, too (e.g., impact, etc) and goes back to the comment made after point 2; but overall the idea/argument could be, why train for endurance in the weight room, when this can be done and done more effectively during the event itself and not concentrate on strength in the weight room?

  5. Exercises can be very few (e.g., 2-4), especially if those working the whole body are selected (i.e., time efficiency on top)

  6. No more than 50 min should be spent in the gym for both physiological/biochemical and psychological reasons -I suppose for other events, too and not specifically for endurance athletes

  7. Strength could benefit running economy (and I suppose the eccentric part of longer races, such as a half- or full-marathon)

Please, feel free to comment on all, or any of the above, as you like!


I am a endurance cyclist and I like to use weights. I think it helps in mass start racing because of the need for relatively high power outputs to break the draft making it harder for riders to catch up as long as you can keep going. I try to put some weight workouts before the rides and some after since my sprint efforts can come in the beginning middle or the end of the race.
I try for two or three days a week in the weight room after my season is over and taper into a 1 time a week during the summer. Maybe twice if I have the energy. Overall I use low reps for most of my workouts 1-5 being the range for most of them, also believing that muscular endurance is better left to actual cycling workouts. I will say that most of my weight workouts take longer when I firsat start then tapering into the season I try to take long rests inbetween sets (2-3min). Emphasizing technique over other things such as how much I lift.
It’s to bad Charlie wasn’t a cycling coach I wouldn’t mind asking him a bunch of questions as to how sprint work would relate to some specific cycling events.

Aaah yes, Amos!

I think I owe you something I had promised… If still interested in that French, track cycling weight programme, PM me your email! There are quite a few, but we might get there eventually… :stuck_out_tongue: Also, there might be some language problems, but I am sure PJ could help you out… :smiley:

Thanks for your input! I can see you agree with most of the points originally posted, although you are more towards Paula vs. Lance… :eek: -rep-wise, I mean…

Good for both of us! :wink:

From my current and past experience,having worked (and still working) in the weight room only with swimmers whose programs in the water I do not have ANY control upon-and which I can only judge as endurance ones from all points of view- strictly reducing reps number <5r and sometimes <3r appears to be the only way to allow at least some progress in general strength levels,without causing too much disturbance to the actual performance in the water.

Gathering some experience at the other end of the power-endurance spectrum,allows for some interesting insights on the conflicting vs. complementary definitions of work.

That’s very interesting, Pakewi!
Thanks for sharing!

Would you care to post a few tips as to the way you are managing the volume of such programmes? Perhaps the number of training sessions throughout the season… Would you agree with the original post on this issue?

And/or the simultaneous volume management in other sport-specific elements? Or at least of those that you have some control upon…


I had a hypothesis a while ago. If an athlete goes through a heavy lifting cycle, before their GPP, and put on weight, muscle mass, and have more strength than their even demands would they then as the season progresses and they stop doing lifting, loose the access strength/mass? More importantly, would they only keep the strength they needed? Or would their strength levels continue to drop regardless of their track-work?

Why would you want to do this before GPP? I don’t get it… What do you mean?

If the extra weight -even if it’s muscle- is counter-productive to performance, or to training purposes at the time, you don’t need it; besides, you can get benefits from weights (as an endurance runner, I mean) without building any mass as such (e.g., Radcliffe).

Why would you stop doing something you started in the early season, you’ve adapted to and have benefits from? Reduce yes, stop completely why? Don’t do it from day one, if this is the case…

Lastly, I don’t think they’ be able to just keep the strength they need -the extra strength, that is- and after a certain period of time the benefits will be lost; the time frame within which this happens depends on the time spent for those benefits to be gained.


I actually do a bunch of coaching for cycling and generally recommend that if you want to lift then you need to do it year round to really get any long term benifit out of it. From my own experince if I keep up my max strength workouts year round I make a little progress from year to year where as when I did it seasonally I didn’t make progress both in weight lifted and acual performence.

As a example of what is common for recommendations in cycling when relating a lifting program here is a basic cycle Quoted out of Performence cycling by David Morris
Resistance training
hypertrohy 2-4 weeks
maximum strength 2 weeks
power 2 weeks

Aerobic endurance 3 weeks

supermaximum power intervals(I call these vo2 pace intervals 2-4min in duration) 3 weeks

maximum sustainable power intervals(8-12 min efforts) 3 weeks

basically there is little or no maintainence phase in the program from what I can tell this can either work or not depending on how the person trains/competes. a.k.a if the person works really hard both in training and in the races they are successful for the person who lacks competitive drive in the races(in other words they do not perform up to their ability missing out on maximum competitive efforts) then the program does not work. But there is a deeper problem anyway beyond lack of c.n.s work.

Typical resistance in cycling to weight lifting as supplimentry training is that because it is not “specific” therefore it is useless. Also the typical I will gain mass argument always is presant. Counter arguments on my part include the C.F. idea that all training does not need to be specific and that given the racing requirments in New England(lack of substantial climbing in races) extra weight is o.k.

I’ve avoided commenting on this topic because I wanted to let the info brew in my mind. (that and I’ve done 3 consecutive all nighters in order to get a danmable video project done) Wouldn’t weights get tossed into the same bag of tricks as hills or beach runs? We a good 15-20% of our preseason volume either uphill or at a beach on our XC team. And then it drops to about 2-5% during the begining of our training cycle. Would it be reasonable to follow a similar volume regime for weights? I mean specifically for the track season more geared towards middle distance (800-3200) where weights would be a bit more applicable than 5k-Marathon distances.

I understand what you mean by “Why would you stop doing something you started in the early season, you’ve adapted to and have benefits from? Reduce yes, stop completely why? Don’t do it from day one, if this is the case…” But I can’t say that I quite agree with it. As a distance runner, we do a lot of crap that doesn’t have a massive impact on our competition distance, but that stuff has a HUGE impact on our workouts. An 800 runner might not need the massive aerobic system that is used in doing 6-10x200@RP, but he sure as hell is going to need his anaerobic recovery through the roof.

Edit: And then I read Amos’ last paragraph and he sums up what took me 2 very big paragraphs to do… :mad:

If you mean reduction of weight training sessions, yes, sure! Although I wouldn’t necessarily justify this reduction according to the other training elements you are referring to (e.g., why not some good weights before the hills?) -IF you need to go that low to weight sessions in your case/event, for example -I presume the 2-5% would represent a single session per week…

And why would that be? I see weight training equally important, if it’s to be employed, across distances; perhaps for different reasons, but important for sure!

I am not sure I understand what you are saying here; if it’s 6-10 x 200 m @RP -as an example, I understand- how is this irrelevant to your event? Also, how is your “anaerobic recovery” is going to become faster, if not from a well developed aerobic system as well at the same time? In that sense, the “irrelevant” workouts you are referring to have -at least- something to do with you competition distance and performance…

Thoughts anyone?

sigh my ideas are always so clear before they leave my head…I guess what i"m trying to say is that per say an aerobic style workout wouldn’t be the most effective way to prep an 800 runner but the aerobic strength that runner gains enables them to do more volume with less recovery at a faster pace.

And I guess that same kind of philosophy rolls over into the utilization of weight-lifting.

You see, that was easy! :stuck_out_tongue:

As “support” training elements, yes!
Sometimes their relevance to specific events is less obvious to some (e.g., tempo and sprinting), however and this is where some confusion can stem from…

I agree though with what you said!
At last… :wink:

If We’re adding weights, would the basic 5-6 compound lifts that CF recomends still be the best bet for distance runners? Or would we see a lift schedual with more emphasis on say medicine balls, or eccentric bw work?

I’m kind of curious what kind of strength work would be done by say… an ispiring 800m runner :wink:

I would be more inclined towards those lifts vs. any others, yes! They save your time, too! :wink:

The number of exercises doesn’t have to be big and especially when some of the volume and/or weight sessions have to be reduced; you can look forward and the complete exercises you want to and know you’ll be able to perform and then split them to start with and progress towards the complete movement. Others may want to comment on this as well! This is working well though in my experience.

As -initially- you can afford to put more emphasis on strength sessions in general, why not including both weight and medicine ball work? You can have the latter on easy days perhaps, or if this is too much, alternate them with weights in a ratio that goes along with the progression of your season.

In any case, your technique should be there for either of these sessions, of course…


Opinions (not necessarily facts) follow.

If the athlete’s already training hard then just throwing weights on top of the current load will cause problems (overtraining or overreaching). If not, you might get away with it.

  1. When weights are added, volume should be reduced by 30-35%, or even more, as suggested by others

Actually, there are studies that support benefits after both adding them on top and after reducing overall volume, but the specific event that such practices are applied usually differs (e.g., cycling vs. running, or non weight-bearing vs. weight-bearing activities)

Depends what weights sessions you’re adding - 3x10 bicep curls once a week won’t need you to cut back much on other training, 5x5 deadlift, squat, leg press 3x a week would be hard even if you just did enough aerobic stuff to maintain fitness.

  1. When reducing volume, it might be preferable to reduce it from elements that conflict with strength gains (e.g., LSD sessions)

Depends when you’re doing the weights. Early season this is a bad idea: you may not gain strength as fast but you will not be able to improve technique as much (in some sports LSD work is very useful for focussing on technique), and you will not be building up enough work capacity to do the hard training that gets you into racing shape later on. Race season you don’t really want to do much LSD work anyway so cutting it for weights is probably a good thing.

  1. Exercises can be very few (e.g., 2-4), especially if those working the whole body are selected (i.e., time efficiency on top)

Sure. As an endurance athlete you may not want to work your upper body at all, or not much. So you’re mainly working your legs, and deadlift, squat, leg press, power clean cover that (not that you’d want to even do all of those in one session).

I like everything you posted here…I am by no means knowledgeable on the subject but just out of curiosity what are your thoughts on utilizing a conjugate method for endurance athletes in the weightroom, at minimum for maintenance of strength during the season…a lot of the ideas of this system would go along with the info you wrote such as minimal exercises, short sessions ect…just off the top of my head, if a runner was running 6 days a week (varied long distances) on days when they were not running max speed or max distanance they could do a workout…depending on the schedule they could even try a two day split of full body workouts one day dynamic, one day max effort…this system would at least maintain their strength levels during the season I think…maybe this is a dumb thought, any feedback is appreciated.

sorry for this delay in posting, but I was away…

To be honest though I am not sure I fully understand your question :o

IMO, the weight programme you could select should reflect/agree with your overall training schedule and give each training element separately the maximum room for improvement.

In that respect, why not combining a (max) speed session with your scheduled weights’ one?

Not sure if I am helping here…

the max speed session with the weights would make sense to me!

In my previous post I was just thinking that during a season if all you did was run distance and did not lift at all, you may lose some other aspect that helps you maintain top performance,or cause injury… that is why I was thinking that under the rigours of running long distances many times a week some form of base lifting program may be beneficial for strength maintence and or prvention of injury. I am not a distance runner,so maybe lifting during the season will promote injury and overtraining, but if yo do have runners who lift I was just thinking about a program that might be optimal in touching on a wide range of aspects yet allowing the athlete to get in an out quickly ( ie 30-45 minute workouts). Sorry if I am not making an sense, it is funny that when I say these thoughts in my head they are somewhat coherent…what a life??? :confused:

I would perfer a general workout to a very specific one geared towards endurance. (Lifts over 20 reps are boring as hell. and it’s not very good on my ego to be movin’ around 20lbs…)

I agree with what you are posting here and that’s why I started this thread for those interested; although, as the original post suggests, I wouldn’t necessarily put any (new) elements on top of previous training -even if previous experience was there, to answer another post- but I would rather balance all elements, i.e., no conflicts, in accordance with the training phase and other factors.

The purpose of weight training would be to avoid injury ( :stuck_out_tongue: )
Not sure if you are asking for specific exercises and weights sessions, but I think there are some comments in the opening post of this thread; for example, whole body exercises should serve better such situations, but since almost every athlete is a “case study”, it wouldn’t be safe to refer to specifics… You might, however, have to think about appropriate loads and their timing into the whole plan and adjust several aspects accordingly (e.g., placing of “MxS”, fewer sessions later on in the season, etc).

Hope this helps!