I’m not the biggest fan of weight training. Put me on a bike or in front of a running trail, and I’ll go for hours, but weights? Not my jam.
I know, I know … I should want to lift weights. Expert after expert will line up to tout the benefits of weight training for endurance athletes, yet every time a strength workout shows up on my training plan, I roll my eyes and declare weights a waste of time.
I’m not alone. The majority of endurance athletes admit to ditching the weights in favor of additional time on the trails. Though the extra miles may help, they may hurt, too — without strength training, the muscles in a runner’s body may become imbalanced, leading to poor performance, fatigue and injury. Strength training also helps improve body composition, maximizes oxygen use while running and keeps burnout at bay by mixing up the athlete’s routine.
Though I dislike weight training, winter is coming (insert dramatic music here) and I’ll soon be forced off the trails by snow and ice. I’ll log some training time on the treadmill and bike trainer to get my cardio fix, but I also (begrudgingly) plan to use the colder months as an opportunity to make friends with the weights at my gym.
I’ve selected Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove’s new book, Strong, as my guide for winter weight training. The text, which offers nine strength and conditioning plans for varying levels of fitness, is designed specifically for women who want to incorporate weight training into their daily routine.
I chose this book because — unlike most weight-training books — the plans are easy to understand. In total, the book offers more than 100 exercises with detailed instructions and step-by-step photographs. Good details are provided on how to choose an appropriate weight for each exercise, and the authors do an excellent job of encouraging a responsible progression into weight training.
What I really like about this book, however, is that it makes weight training feel like something that’s … well, not a waste of time. Most of the workouts themselves are a warm-up, two core exercise sets, four strength exercise sets and intervals (think jump-rope, kettlebell swings or running). That’s it. It’s not a complicated workout. It’s something that can easily be blended with intervals on a treadmill or tacked on to the end of an hour-long Spin class. Here’s an example of a workout shared by Strong:
Are you trying to make friends with weights, too? How do you incorporate strength training into your endurance events? —Susan