The best thing about building strength for a sport is that you can never be too strong. A lot of people confuse strength and muscle for bodybuilding and this is just not the case. A strength program should complement your existing training and add value to your sport through stress and adaptation.
What do I mean by this? In the simplest explanation possible, if we apply stress to the body we have to adapt to accommodate it…think fight or flight. We place stress on a muscle through an exercise and our body will learn to adapt to accommodate it. Yes initially it will suck, but overtime, the body will remember that stressor and the next time we perform it it won’t have the same impact.
Let’s relate it to hill training…if you start to include hill climbs on your cycling routes and it’s not something that you are used to then your legs will burn like that summer sun on pasty white skin. Those hills will leave your legs like jelly, your cycling technique will go out the window and you’ll certainly struggle. However, overtime your body will adapt to that stress and it will be conditioned to handle that stressor being placed upon it.
Strength training and building lean muscle for endurance athletes can be a scary thought because of the way muscle building is often viewed. Building muscle is hard work and bodybuilders look like they do because they really want to, it hasn’t happened by accident. For endurance athletes, adding strength and conditioning training to your fitness regime is only going to benefit you with benefits such as improved metabolism and injury prevention.
The basics for strength training and building muscle are as follows:
- Big compound multi joint movements first – Squats, deadlifts, overhead press, pull ups.
- Accessory lifts follow – lunges, step ups, dips, press ups, rows, horizontal press, vertical press.
- Sets, reps and rest for strength – 3-5 x 1-5, 3-5 minutes.
- Sets, reps and rest for muscle gain – 3-5, 6-12, 1-2 minutes.
- Eat adequate protein – research indicates 1-3g per lbs of bodyweight can be consumed to maintain and build muscle depending on goal and training status.