Strength training 105: Is there a downside?
We’re back again for the latest in my series on strength training for endurance athletes!
I’ve written previously about how and when strength training should be used in a nuanced way- it’s not as simple as ‘strength is always good!’ Check it out: here, here, here and here.
Now, the next question: is there a downside to strength training? Time costs aside, are there risks or detrimental aspects to including strength training in your quest to be a better endurance athlete? That is what I am taking a quick look at in this article.
First and foremost, based on my previous articles, we know the goal of strength training is to improve our running economy without losing any other components of why we run well. However, it’s not as simple as ‘build power, go faster;’ it’s about how you maximize your power-to-weight ratio.
The other consideration is that if you put on muscle mass, the ratio of the density of blood vessels carrying oxygen to the muscles vs. the volume of muscles they supply goes down – once again, hurting endurance performance.
The key with this is that higher rep, lower weight exercises don’t seem to give the same boost in performance that high weight, low rep strength work does. The flip side to this is that low rep exercises are what builds mass – something we don’t necessarily need to be faster. So, what’s the balance?