by Ed Shepherd
In part one of Lift Heavy Things, I did my best to share with you why you should begin a weight training program during your off-season. Hopefully this helped you make the commitment to head to the gym and get started. But now you realize you have no idea what to do or how long it should take. Remember, as an endurance athlete your goal in the gym is to develop strength to be able to apply more force to the pedals, pavement, or water... that's it. Your training program should focus on the function of the muscle and as such here are a few things for you to consider as you get started:
1) Use Multi-Joint Movements- in order to save time and hit as many muscle groups as possible use big movement exercises. These are three joint movements such as a squat and leg press for lower body or lat pulldown and bench press for upper body. When pressed for time or just starting out, do these four exercises first!
2) Focus on the Muscles that do the Work- Don't go into the gym and start using machines or doing certain free-weight exercises that are not sport specific. You are wasting your time and all of your hard work will not carry over to improve your overall ability in your sport. Think about the biggest muscle that is used to do most of the work. If you are unsure ask a trainer.
3) Copy your Movements- As you are working pay special attention to where you place your feet and hands. Try your best to put them in similar positions to the sports you are training for.
4) Work on Correcting Imbalances- Throughout your season you work hard and push your body to its limits. As such, you train and race through soreness and even minor injury in order to meet your goals. But in doing so your muscles get out of whack just like the tires on your car do over time.
5) Connect your Muscles- It is great to develop the strength of your upper and lower body, but if you do not also develop your core those forces will not get utilized. Your back and abs are your lever point when applying force and if your mid-section resembles a slinky then the forces get absorbed and not transferred into work.
6) Pay Attention to your Time- Your time is valuable so don't spend all day in the gym... maybe an hour to an hour and half at most. Focus on big multi-joint movements to get the best bang for your buck and add in core work. Also, your weight training workouts are a supplement to your winter training endurance workouts... not in addition to. Don't get burned out before the season even begins.
I hope this helps. Don't forget... if you are in the Roanoke Valley, you can start coming to my classes at the Gainsboro or Kirk YMCA in January. If you have any questions for me or are interested in joining me at the YMCA, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.