Endurance sport athletes tend to have a firm appreciation of the importance of participating in endurance training activities as preparation for their competitive endeavors. To that end there are a variety of resources (e.g., books, magazines, Internet sites) available to the endurance sport athlete and the prospective endurance sport athlete that outline how to structure swimming, biking, and/or running workouts to prepare for events of various distances. However, if there is one training modality that endurance athletes tend to minimize or avoid in their training plans, it would have to be resistance training.
That shouldn’t be too surprising, as many in the general public consider aerobic fitness to be the benchmark measurement of physical fitness. In 1968, Dr. Kenneth Cooper made his case to implement aerobic activity to develop physical fitness (The Cooper Institute, 2011). Since then, resistance training has been relegated to “second-class” status in the eyes of many fitness consumers.
While I believe that the strength and power gains that can result from a properly designed resistance training program should convince every individual to make resistance training a big part of their overall fitness program, this article is aimed primarily at endurance sport athletes. For any competitive athlete, the primary question that must be asked when considering the inclusion of any training modality is “How is this going to make me more competitive in my chosen sport?” However, before I present you with some answers to that question, we need to define resistance training.
Fleck and Kraemer (2004) have defined resistance training as “a type of exercise that requires the body’s musculature to move (or attempt to move) against an opposing force, usually presented by some type of equipment” (p. 3). This resisting force against which the muscles exert themselves can take many forms such as bodyweight, elastic bands and tubing, resistance training machines, free weights (e.g., barbells and dumbbells), kettlebells, and medicine balls.
Resistance training is also commonly referred to as strength training and weight training (Fleck & Kraemer, 2004, p. 3).
In the second part of this five-part series, I will cover the benefits of resistance training.
The Cooper Institute. (2011). About us. Retrieved http://www.cooperinstitute.org/about
Fleck, S. J. & Kraemer, W. J. (2004). Designing resistance training programs (3rd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.