Now that you know how to make the most of your indoor aerobic workouts (see Part 1 in the November newsletter), let’s explore what would happen if you swapped some of your treadmill time for resistance training. Isn’t aerobic training enough? Would your endurance training suffer? How would you begin?
Weight training, especially if it is new to you, can feel intimidating and less effective than 20 more minutes in the pool, but knowing the answers to these questions will help you make the most of your indoor training this winter.
Isn’t aerobic training enough?
You know that resistance training is good for you, but, as a triathlete, you aren’t sure why you need it. You are in great shape aerobically and exercise plenty. But weight training has specific, unique benefits that are important to your overall health and training longevity:
- Improved bone density – The stress placed on bones from resistance training makes your bones stronger, reducing and even reversing “normal” bone loss associated with aging and non-weight bearing exercise.
- Controlled blood sugar – The muscle pumping action improves the movement of glucose from blood to muscles with less use of insulin, reducing your risk of developing diabetes.
- Increased confidence – Changes to how your body looks and feels, as a result of building muscle tone and strength, lead to more positive beliefs about your body’s size, shape and abilities.
- Improved mental health – Endorphins released with strength training are associated with happiness and decreased risk of depression – an important consideration during these dark and dreary months in the northwest!
- Increased motivation – Objective, rapid progress is a key feature of consistent resistance training. With just 2-3 sessions per week, you will be able to increase your weight and reps quickly. This will keep you motivated when you are plateauing with your mile pace despite hours on the treadmill!
Will your endurance training suffer?
The research on strength training for endurance athletes is convincing. It has been shown to increase Running Economy (a complicated scientific measure of how well your body uses oxygen while running: think of it as similar to the fuel economy of your car) in highly trained middle- and long-distance runners. In another study, resistance training improved time-trial performance and economy in competitive endurance athletes. The National Strength and Conditioning Association’s book, Developing Speed, concludes “The athlete who performs both resistance and endurance training in an integrated and appropriately planned fashion will perform at a higher level than the athlete who performs only classic endurance training.”
When it comes to burning calories, the truth is that resistance training burns more calories than aerobic workouts in the long run. Compare real time workouts calorie-to-calorie, and time spent on the treadmill will most likely surpass time spent curling dumbbells. But, over time – even in the 24 hours after workouts - weight training burns more calories because it increases muscle tissue. Muscle burns 3-5 times more calories per hour than fat tissue, making your body more efficient at rest, with training and while racing.
How do you begin a weight training program?
As is true with anything in the fitness world, there are plenty of ideas and opinions about how to build muscle and do resistance training “right.” But, like most things in life, there are infinite paths to success and a few guiding principles:
- Whether it is dumbbells, weight machines, kettlebells, resistance tubing, or a circuit training class, you will get the most out of activities that you enjoy because you will stick with them.
- Start small. As little as 2 weight training workouts per week for 20-30 minutes will result in the positive benefits outlined in this article, and you will still have plenty of time to log laps and miles.
- When in doubt, ask for guidance from a personal trainer, physical therapist, coach or other exercise specialist. Small changes in form can lead to big improvements in results and reduce risk of injury.
- There are many schools of thought on sets and reps, but 3 sets of 10 repetitions per exercise is a good place to begin. Aim for muscle fatigue, not pain, toward the end of each set.
As with aerobic exercise, make the most of your resistance training by sticking to sport-specific activities. Here are a few specific exercises to get you started:
Swimming: Lat Pull Downs (pull down to chest in front of you, One-Arm Cable Pull from low height with high elbow, Lateral Raises, Planks
Cycling: Leg Press, Squat, Lunges, Hamstring Curls
Running: Single Leg Squats, Calf Raises, Hip Extension Bridges with Swiss Ball
Now you know why adding resistance training to your indoor workouts is worth your and how to get started. Go ahead, change up your winter training in 2018 and watch your body change and race times drop!
Looking for more ideas about weight training? Call any Outpatient Physical Therapy clinic to schedule your free consultation (no fee, no prescription or referral needed) with a licensed Physical Therapist. Find a location near you at www.outpatientpt.com
Balsalobre-Fernández C1, Santos-Concejero J, Grivas GV. Effects of Strength Training on Running Economy in Highly Trained Runners: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials. J Strength Cond Res. 2016 Aug;30(8):2361-8.
Beattie K1, Kenny IC, Lyons M, Carson BP. The effect of strength training on performance in endurance athletes. Sports Med. 2014 Jun;44(6):845-65