Benefits of FORCE: Strength Training in the Off Season
With the multisport off season upon us, now is a great time to start shifting the focus to adjustments, changes, and tweaks in performance, body composition, balance, power, and strength. One main component of this off season goal is via resistance training classes - specifically, heavy resistance training classes suited for endurance athletes. At Tri Fitness, we offer a class a couple times a week called FORCE.
FORCE class offers a consistent/structured set of lifts which highly benefit runners, cyclists, and swimmers. We build overall body strength with primary moves such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, stiff press, push press, and squat presses. Guided by our experts, you will build deep, strong muscle safely with the appropriate weight for your fitness level. FORCE is set up as a circuit, so all muscle groups are efficiently and effectively worked within an hour. All athletes are responsible for (and encouraged to) logging their weight increases they make during these classes over time. Also incorporated in FORCE classes are power and strength-building plyometric exercises.
A couple studies to support the benefits of a class such as FORCE include:
According to a study published in Sports Medicine, “Research indicates that resistance training promotes growth and/or increases in the strength of ligaments, tendons, tendon to bone and ligament to bone junction strength, joint cartilage and the connective tissue sheaths within muscle. Studies involving humans and animal models also demonstrate resistance training can cause increased bone mineral content and therefore may aid in prevention of skeletal injuries. Investigations to date suggest resistance training can aid in injury prevention. The incidence of various types of overuse injuries, such as swimmers shoulder and tennis elbow, may be reduced by the performance of sport and/or motion specific resistance training activities.” (Fleck 1986)
Just as exercising with proper form can reduce the risk of injury, so too can it improve running economy - or the amount of oxygen you consume at a given pace relative to your body weight. Being stronger allows you to recruit the correct muscles for an optimized stride so that you do not default to relying on incorrect muscle groups. As evidence, a 2008 study by Storen et al., separated a group of runners into two groups: one of which executed a tri-weekly strength routine of half squats while the other (control group) continued their normal endurance training regimen. After eight weeks, the strength group improved running economy by 5% and time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic speed by 21.3%. The control group experienced no changes from pre to post values in these parameters.
We understand that as endurance athletes, taking the time to incorporate effective strength training can easily get pushed to the back burner, but we hope this off season you decide to focus your efforts on strength training in preparation for next multisport season, and see how much it positively impacts your performance!
If you're new to Tri Fitness, we welcome you to stop in to for a free consultation and/or free week of classes to give FORCE (and our other classes) a try and meet our community.
Støren, O, et al. “Maximal Strength Training Improves Running Economy in Distance Runners.” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise., U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18460997.
Should Endurance Athletes Do Plyometric Training: https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/should-endurance-athletes-do-plyometric-training/
Why Triathletes Need To Lift Weights: https://www.workingtriathlete.com/articles/2017/12/17/why-triathletes-need-to-lift-weights-strength-training-for-triathletes