In this third installment of the Middaugh Coaching Corner the World Champ tackles the tricky subject of endurance athletes and their relationship with strength training.
“For me, triathlon training started as a way to cross train for distance running,” said Middaugh. “I realized early on that I was not as durable as some of the other collegiate runners and strength training, swimming, and biking brought some balance and allowed me to continue training through injuries and multiple knee surgeries. Swimming and biking are great low impact activities, but all triathlon disciplines are incredibly repetitive and can lead to some specific imbalances. Strength training, when performed properly can improve mechanics, resist injury, and improve performance. Personally I shoot for 12-16 weeks of consistent strength training starting in the off season then shift to strength maintenance during the competitive season. Sometimes I will revisit a strengthening focus during a mid-season break.”
Ultimately, Middaugh explains, the goal of strength training should be two-fold: injury prevention, and a positive transfer of strength, power, muscular endurance, and movement efficiency to the sports themselves.
“Since movement patterns of swimming, biking, and running are extremely repetitive it is important to address movement impairments with targeted strengthening of under-active muscle groups to prevent injury. For performance, the exercises need to be very specific in terms of movement patterns and velocity. Properly periodized programs move from general to specific and in the case of endurance sports they need to start as specific and move to more specific to avoid conflicting peripheral adaptations. For swimming, cycling, and running, this means eventually performing a portion of the resistance training within the targeted sports.”
Middaugh went on to say the timing of your strength training is important as well…
“Although strength training has been demonstrated effective in all phases of an annual plan, it makes the most sense to start strength training during the off-season to avoid overtraining. If you can put in a solid 12-16 weeks of structured strength training now, there is a “Long Lasting Training Effect” and a “Long-Term Delayed Training Effect” of special strength preparation that can yield great results during the competitive season. What this means is that you might not see the benefit initially, and in some cases performance can decline a little, but long term it can be very beneficial. Here are some real guidelines to help you develop an off season strength routine.”
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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.