Thursday, October 16, 2014

Strength and Endurance Training: Timing it Right!

I kept exchanging places with another racer. 
He looked about my age, and he seemed to be in great shape. He would pass me on the straight, flat sections (not too many of those) and I would pass him on the hills. Since there was a huge hill at the end, I made it to the finish a little before he did.
After the race, he told me,
"I tried to keep up with you on those hills. 
You really got me on the hills. 
Great job!"
I complimented him back. Then I joked ...
"I guess all those hamstring curls paid off!"
Hamstring Curls
Once a week, I strap on a 10 pound ankle weight 
and do 100 hammy curls per leg. 
My biggest problem with lower body strength training is 'when'? When do I fit it in with all the running? I mean - sometimes I do legs the day before or after a track/speed work out, or the day before or after a long run - but it's exhausting! I'm always wondering:
Am I getting anything out of it?
- Or just setting myself up for injury?
So when I came across the American College of Sports Medicine Certified News report, "Effects of Concurrent Training: Strength and Endurance Exercise" by Wayne L. Westcoff, PhD, I was ecstatic!
Finally, a report to tell me when and how to schedule 
my endurance training with my strength training!
This article revealed that endurance exercise can interfere with lower body strength development and gains  - but this is based on the frequency and duration of the aerobic training. For this reason, recovery days between high-effort endurance exercise and lower body strength training are key if you want to increase lower body muscle strength. And another study revealed that if you want to optimize your lower-body resistance work outs, you should not perform lower body aerobic activity before you strength train.
To maximize lower body muscle strength,
Wescott recommends the following:

  1. Do a non-weight bearing aerobic activity (cycling or elliptical vs running) the day before, or after your lower body strength training sessions.
  2. Don't do any more than three high-effort endurance exercise activities per week. (Makes me feel a little better about those so-called "junk miles" mid-week!).
  3. When you combine high-effort endurance exercise with lower body strength training on the same day, do the high effort endurance exercise after your strength training session.
  4. If you must combine high-effort endurance exercise with lower body strength training, do shorter bouts of various endurance exercises.
  5. Consider taking supplemental protein before and/or after those days when you combine high-effort endurance exercise with lower body strength training sessions to enhance post-exercise protein synthesis. 

My main goal when I strength train is to 
reduce injury and gain speed:
Strong Butt = Happy Runner
Now, at least I can follow some guidelines to maximize strength, 
minimize injury, and get up those hills!
Do you strength train?
What's your favorite leg work out?
Train Smart Today!