by Ed Shepherd
It is now getting crazy cold outside and you should be ready to start moving some of your workouts indoors. In my last post I shared with you some ideas for what you could get in to during the off-season. One of those very necessary workouts should be lifting weights. A lot of you don't care much for it, but it is a very important part of building a strong foundation to your 2014 race season.
You may be reluctant to head to the gym in the off season because you are unsure of what machines to use. This may be true, but it is not a good enough excuse to leave weightlifting out of your winter training plan. All good gyms have instructors that can help get you started or if you are in the Roanoke Valley you can start coming to my classes at the Gainsboro or Kirk YMCA in January. The point is, make it happen! Weight lifting is not going to replace your fitness or sport-specific training, but supplement it to (1) improve integrity of joints, (2) correct imbalances, and (3) improve muscular strength to help you sustain a larger workload over time.
A lot of people say they don't want to lift too much weight because they don't want to "bulk up." Well here is a news flash- that will never happen to most of us! As an endurance athlete, you will never be able to lift enough to counter the amount of endurance training you do to cause that to happen.
So why lift at all then? As an athlete, you want to recruit multiple motor units, which means more fibers are firing, causing an increase in force production and strength. As an endurance athlete, you can have a relatively small number of motor units, but with weight training you gain the ability to recruit more of those motor units in order to help with the workload. What this means is you don’t gain more muscle, just recruit all of the units in the muscle you already have! By starting small and working up over the next few months you will be surprised at the gains you will see. All of the hard work in the gym will pay huge benefits when you are standing on the podium!
This is part 1 of a series I will be blogging about for the rest of December on the need to weight train. If you have any questions for me or are interested in joining me at the YMCA in January, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.