by Ed Shepherd
Ok... it's time to lift. If you haven't started then now you are behind and it is only the first week of the year. This is the final part of my off-season blog posts on weight training and now it’s time to talk about how much. During one of my fall runs with some of the guys at Roanoke College and with some of my Roanoke Valley Elite team mates, the topic of lifting came up. There is only one thing that I wanted to stress then and that I cannot stress enough now- lift weights like a weight lifter, not an endurance athlete! Give me a chance to explain.
Remember in my first post I stated that weight training is all about muscle fiber recruitment. In order for your body to be signaled to recruit more muscle to do work, it must be stimulated by something heavy. Not so heavy that it is impossible to move, but heavy enough that there is a need to bring on more muscle for the job. So what is enough without being too much? When I set multi-sport athletes up to begin lifting, I start them out with five basic movements- bench press, lat pull down, seated row, squat, and leg press. These are all multi-joint movements designed to hit big muscle groups that also do the majority of the work in competition.
Always begin by doing a warm up set of 15 with very little weight in order to get blood into the muscles you are getting ready to stress. For the first three or four workouts do NO MORE than two sets of no more than ten reps of a weight that is a struggle to get to ten. I begin this way in order to allow your body to adapt to the workload that you are putting your body through without causing soreness. After that, you should move it up to three sets of 6-8 reps on each movement. Remember, your goal is to recruit muscle for the job and this is done at the neuro-muscular level. Weight lifting is not an endurance activity... it is totally done to get a higher level of power output from your muscles to transfer into your endurance activities when you need it. As you work harder in the gym the more of your training efforts will be transferred over and allow you to do more work with less effort in the sports where you need it. I promise, if you stick with it for at least two to three months leading into your season it will pay big gains during your 2014 race season!