Making the Case for Resistance Training by Endurance Athletes — Part II

In Part I of this article series, I advocated that endurance sport athletes should incorporate resistance training into their overall fitness/sport performance training programs. I also defined resistance training. In Part II, I will go over the benefits of participating in a resistance training program.

Resistance training advocates point to a wealth of potential benefits for those individuals that incorporate resistance training into their fitness/sports performance training program. These benefits can improve health, fitness, and performance.

Fleck and Kraemer (2004) have pointed to improvements in strength, power, muscle hypertrophy (i.e., increased muscle size), improved motor performance, and improved body composition (i.e., an increase in one’s fat-free mass [e.g. muscle] with a concomitant reduction in body fat) (p. 4).

Young (2010) has identified other benefits, including possible injury prevention and improvements in one’s neuromuscular efficiency that can lead to improved performance (p. 5).

But how else can resistance training help the endurance sport athlete? Johnston, Quinn, Kertzer, and Vroman (1997) have indicated that the findings of their study would suggest that improvements in running economy could result from implementation of a resistance training program by female distance runners without a resistance training background (p. 228). That sounds good, but what does that mean? Young (2010) has defined running economy as the “measure of how efficiently a person uses oxygen while running at a given pace” (p. 12). So resistance training may help an endurance sport athlete use oxygen more efficiently.

Ratamess (2008) has indicated that the strength of ligaments, tendons and bones may increase as an adaption to resistance training (p. 96). Stronger ligaments, tendons, and bones resulting from a resistance training program make for a stronger, more injury-resistant athlete.

Endurance sport athletes will typically not want to increase body mass, particularly body mass that does not contribute to increases in running velocity. Increases in muscle size, known as hypertrophy, can result from resistance training (Ratamess, 2008, p. 100). However, Young (2010) has identified caloric intake and the macronutrient ratio of the diet as the principal factors in weight gain (p. 39). Moreover, the degree of hypertrophy that results from a resistance training program is largely a factor of the program followed and the specific training stimulus (Ratamess, 2008, p. 100). Baechle, Earle, and Wathen (2008) have indicated that training loads and repetition schemes are based upon the training goal (p. 399). Baechle et al. identified three to six sets of six to twelve repetitions as being appropriate in training for hypertrophy, while two to six sets of one to six repetitions is appropriate for training strength and three to five sets of one to five repetitions is appropriate for training power (p. 406).

It should be noted that the adaptations that result from resistance training are not permanent and will be lost if training is discontinued. Ratamess (2008) has pointed out that this detraining effect can take place in as little as two weeks and in perhaps less time if the individual in question is more highly trained (p. 117).

In the third part of this five-part series, I will discuss resistance training program considerations for endurance athletes.


Baechle, T.R. Earle, R.W., & Wathen, D. (2008). Resistance Training. In T.R. Baechle & R. W. Earle (Eds.), Essentials of strength training and conditioning (3rd ed., pp. 381-412). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Fleck, S. J. & Kraemer, W. J. (2004). Designing resistance training programs (3rd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Johnston, R.E., Quinn, T.J., Kertzer, R., & Vroman, N.B. (1997) Strength training in female distance runners: Impact on running economy. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 11(4), 224-229.

Ratamess, N. A. (2008). Adaptations to anaerobic training programs. In T.R. Baechle & R. W. Earle (Eds.), Essentials of strength training and conditioning (3rd ed., pp. 93-119). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Young, M. (2010). Auxiliary training: Means & methods for the multi-sport athlete. Retrieved from

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One Response to Making the Case for Resistance Training by Endurance Athletes — Part II

  1. Pingback: “Making the Case for Resistance Training by Endurance Athletes” (Complete Article Series) | Greg Maness' Functional Sports Performance Blog

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