After months of resistance, I finally bit the bullet and joined Pinterest. I’ve always thought it was a bit silly, but is it ever addicting! I’ve already wasted hours of my life pinning away mindlessly. If you want to see how I dress (I try to break the stereotype of PTs being hopelessly unfashionable!), the tattoos I like (yes, I’m planning on getting one!) and pictures of fit women’s butts, please follow me!
Moving right along, it’s time for another reader question! Satu is an endurance athlete (runs 40-50 km and cycles 100+ km per week – holy cow!) who asked for tips on how to complement her current training regime with weight lifting. She asked what exercises will enable her to maintain muscle and support her cardiovascular training, while also allowing time for recovery. She ended her question with: All the articles I read tell me that it’s impossible to lift and do cardio and that I have to make the choice between the two, but the fact is that I love both and would hate to give up either one!
First of all, it is definitely not impossible to do both! I have a number of clients who lift weights regularly while also training for marathons and triathlons. It can certainly be done, but time management is important.
I’d recommend 2-3 short weight workouts for best results, but you can certainly combine workouts for a longer single weekly session. Lift weights on lighter training days or rest days, but make sure you have at least one complete rest day per week. Do not lift weights within 48 hours of a race!
Your time in the weights room is precious so use it wisely. Train the major movements: presses, rows, squats, lunges and deadlifts. Don’t waste time doing isolation exercises such as bicep curls or lat raises.
A lot of runners and cyclists assume that they are already training their lower body and therefore don’t need any additional training but that is not true. In fact, lower body strength exercises are more important than upper body exercises for runners! Building muscle and strength in your legs will improve your athletic ability and reduce the risk of injury.
Most runners have very weak quads and glutes in comparison to their hamstrings, so it is important to choose exercises which build up those muscle groups. It is also very important to incorporate single leg work, such as single leg squats and deadlifts.
I recommend training for strength, completing 3-4 sets of 6-10 repetitions. You don’t want to train in too low of a rep range, as max effort lifting is extremely taxing on the body; however, higher repetitions should generally be avoided as they target muscular endurance – which you already train through your running and cycling.
Keep your workouts short. Make sure you spend 10 minutes warming up with some foam rolling (targeting the glutes and IT band especially!) and dynamic stretches, and then keep the weight lifting to around 30 minutes. Ignore reports of when the ‘best’ time to lift weights is, and just do your workouts whenever you can fit them in around your other training.
A sample three day training program might look like this:
Day One: Squats, single leg deadlift, reverse barbell lunges, single leg hip thrust
Day Two: Bench press, chin-ups (assisted if necessary), overhead press, push ups
Day Three: Deadlifts, split squats, weighted back extensions, bent over barbell row
It is also important to spend some time training the deep core muscles (try these exercises). This will improve the connection between your upper and lower body when you are cycling or running, and prevent lower back and hip injuries.
A final point which I hope goes without saying is that you have to eat! Training for endurance events requires an increased caloric intake. Intensive cardio itself won’t cause muscle wasting; it is the failure to refuel properly which does so. Adding weight training to your exercise regime along with maintaining muscle mass requires even further calories – depending on the individual person and training regime, this may be anywhere from 3000 to 5000 calories a day as a bare minimum. To reach this number, you should be eating a lot of carbohydrates and calorie dense foods such as rice, pasta, glucose drinks and high calorie protein and carbohydrate shakes.
Do you combine weight lifting with endurance cardio?