Our last article described the 12 strength training guidelines for endurance athletes and now we will give some examples to give you a better idea of what a strength training workout should look like.
Keep in mind that strength training is supplemental and your specific needs may be different to someone else due to age, previous injury, muscle imbalances, or strengths and weaknesses.
This workout consists of 13 exercises, but that was just to give you a wide range of exercises and a typical workout might only consist of 6 or 8 of these. It starts with glute activation and an integration balance exercise. Then we prioritize with the highest intensity exercises, move to general strength exercises, and finish with core exercises.
During an initial adaptation period I might start with only 2 sets per exercise and then if I really want to focus in on some strength or power development I might pick 2-4 key exercises and perform 4 or 5 sets. Two strength sessions per week is usually enough for most athletes unless it is during an off-season period where total volume is much lower. Remember to replace a portion of your endurance training with the strength workouts for better adaptation. For strength maintenance during the competitive season as little as 1 set per exercise can be performed and only one day per week.
Here is a list of our sample exercises:
- Band side step: The target muscle is the gluteus medius. Be careful to keep your feet pointed straight ahead and stay upright. If the toes angle out then you start to compensate with the TFL and Hip Flexors.
- Band kick backs: Starting to pull the other gluteal muscles into it. Perform with a 2 second pause when you kick back and clench the glutes.
- Windmill Toe-Touch: Glutes are the prime mover here, but you should feel the hamstrings assisting. Focus on the balance and maintaining a long spine. Hinge from the hip and also focus on maintaining a plumb line with the hip/knee/ankle of the standing leg.
- Reactive Box Jump: This is a true plyometric exercise specific to running with the short ground contact time and short amortization phase. Intensity level can be adjusted by the height of the box.
- Explosive Step-up: This has a longer amortization phase (change of direction) and longer ground contact time so it also applies well to cycling. Think of triple extenstion (hip, knee, and ankle extends).
- Scissor Jump: This is very similar to the explosive step up so I recommend choosing one or the other. This will make you much more sore the first time so be caution with range of motion and number of reps.
- Kettlebell Swing: A great precursor to Olympic lifts or as an alternative. The main focus here is the hip hinge and a powerful motion. Momentum is your friend so don’t try to slow the way down with your arms. The motion is more back-to-front and less up-and-down.
- Single-leg Step-down: Essentially this is a single leg squat with a tap to the floor. Keep your heel down and get equal angles and the hip and knee by sticking your butt back and chest forward. Watch the plumb line of the hip/knee/ankle in a mirror. The main compensations I see are the knee collapsing in and the heel lifting up.
- Plank Press-up: Assume a push-up position with your feet about shoulder width. In addition to working your arms you should feel a lot of work in the core while you maintain stability side to side and keep the sway out of your low back.
- Renegade Row: Start with a similar push-up position and feet shoulder width. You will have to work harder to keep your body from rotating side-to-side.
- Pull-ups: Start with some assistance either with a machine or with a workout partner. Try to use the pronated grip for better Lat recruitment.
- Ball Y-T-Cobra: This is a great exercise for the forward head, rounded shoulder posture. Keep your thumbs up towards the sky and pause 2 seconds in each position. Feel the shoulder blades rotate down and together as you move from the Y to the T to the Cobra.
- Mason Twist with Bounce: Be a little careful with the amount of rotation you get since the main focus is stability. Another option is a partner ball toss.
Josiah Middaugh is the reigning XTERRA World Champion. He has a master’s degree in kinesiology and has been a certified personal trainer for 15 years (NSCA-CSCS). His brother Yaro also has a master’s degree and has been an active USAT certified coach for a decade.