Strength Training for Endurance (Part 3) by Marc Laithwaite


This week we look at putting the schedule together for the winter period and how to ‘periodise’ and progress towards summer 2016.

Missed part 1 or part 2? Go HERE and HERE

Strength training by nature involves high resistance for a short period of time, it’s important that you don’t rush your routine, you must provide adequate rest between exercises. Don’t turn this routine into a ‘circuit training session’ moving quickly from one exercise to the next. I’m not questioning the benefits of circuit type training, but to develop strength, there must be adequate recovery between exercises for maximal lifting.

Periodisation Made Simple

Periodisation is simply breaking your training into blocks. You probably do this already, winter being your base phase. In a similar way, you should periodise your strength training. If you were to start your strength training at the beginning of December, that gives you 6 months to reach the end of May, which for most is the beginning of the summer season. Here’s the simple guide to the exercise routine and your periodisation plan:

Base Phase, Weeks 1-8

The objectives for the base phase are:

1. Learn the exercises so technique is perfect

2. Reduce risk of injury by improved joint stability

3. Develop basic conditioning as a platform to progress from

1. The routine should be completed twice per week and repetitions for all free weights exercises should be 12-15. For core stability exercises such as plank etc, the ‘time’ should be whatever you can manage whilst holding perfect form.

2. Learning the technique is critical for all of the exercises. If you have never done free weight exercises, the basic technique will be challenging. For weeks 1-4, minimise the weight and learn the exercises to perfection. Don’t simply start adding weight / resistance, learning the movement is a critical part of your development. Weeks 1-4 is ALL ABOUT TECHNIQUE AND MOVEMENT.

3. During weeks 5-8 increase the load / weight for the exercises gradually, repetitions should stay at 12-15. It’s impossible to predict the actual ‘weight/kg’ you should be lifting, this is something that you will have to work out for yourself. Don’t overload during weeks 5-8, your technique must remain perfect.

Strength Phase, Weeks 9-16

1. You need to increase resistance during this phase, without losing technique. To develop strength you need to reduce the repetitions and use a heavier weight. Weeks 9-12, complete 3 sets for each exercise and your repetitions should be 12/9/6, increasing the weight slightly each set. Weeks 13-16m complete 3 sets for each exercise and your repetitions should be 10/6/4, increasing the weight each set.

2. Over this period you aim is to increase resistance, you should do this when you feel ready. Some people will increase every week, others may need a couple of weeks before progressing.

3. You should change exercises slightly in strength phase to focus on larger muscle groups.

Power and Plyometric Phase, Week 17-24

1. The strength work will continue with an emphasis on explosive power. You should continue to progress the exercises and increase the resistance, using lower repetitions. By completing the exercises more quickly, in an ‘explosive manner’ you will switch focus to ‘power’. Use a moderate weight to warm up then complete 3 sets for each exercise and your repetitions can drop as low as 6/4/2 increasing the weight each set.

2. Plyometrics will be introduced, this is particularly important for running performance. Plyometric activities will include jumping, hopping etc. For cyclists, you can introduce sports specific explosive power. This is done by combining your strength work with explosive, high resistance, short duration sprinting on a static bike. Introduce the plyometrics gently and build over 8 weeks. Complete 3 sets of each plyometric exercise, building the intensity (e.g. jumping higher / harder) throughout each set.

If you have a free weights routine already in place, you can apply the above principles to your schedule right now. Make sure you’ve read parts 1 & 2 HERE and HERE before starting this program.

Starting the program in January? No problem, as with any plan you need to adjust and adapt so that your plan works inline with your racing objectives and racing calendar.

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

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