Week 41 – Should Endurance Athlete’s Lift Weights?

December 7, 2015

BESTAs an A Cyclist,  a Certified Sports Nutritionist, a Fitness Editor of “Female Bodybuilding Magazine” for 8 years, a Fitness Editor for “Just For Blackmen Magazine for 3 years”, a successful Athletic Trainer, Former State Powerlifting Champion and National Powerlifting Champion, a National Deadlift Record holder in the 220 pounds class of the American Drug Free Powerlifting Association, having Coached Wrestling and Wrestled successfully in Internationally competition represented the U.S.A., having trained top amateur and professional athletes … many endurance athletes I have worked with often ask me should they lift weights.

My first response is often “Are you sure you are asking the right question.”

They are asking if lifting weights with the intention of making themselves stronger will improve their endurance performance?

At this point I could simply say yes or no and walk away with both would be the right answer … You see they require a better question.

So lets’ take the example of a Triathlete who is a multiple-stage competitor involving the completion of three continuous and sequential endurance disciplines involves swimming, cycling, and running over various distances.  Or a cyclist wanting to improve his average speed, climbing ability, and endurance on long, fast rides.

Assuming the common goal is improving your performance (finishing faster by improving performance weaknesses) is the goal … Now ask will lifting weights to make me stronger improve my performance as a athlete … will it make me better, make it less stressful, improve my weakness, will it improve my performance.

I could still say yes or no, again walk away, and both answers would still be right.  Better Question though … but still not the right question.

With up to three disciplines (cyclist 1, Duathlon 2, Triathlon 3), limited training time … Is weightlifting the best use of my time to improve my performance.

AAAAHAAAAHHH … Now we have a question that begins a discussion:

Most endurance athletes measure and train the same major factors and a multitude of minor factors as needed.  Improving these major factors … significantly improves your performance:


Nutritional component:  Is you body getting the fuel it requires …  1.0 Gram of lean Protein per pound body weight.  Is is getting a proper ratio of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, & Fiber, 60 Essential Micro Nutrients, 11 Amino Acids, 2 Essential Fatty Acids, 13 Vitamins, 21 Minerals, 7 Enzymes, 6 Probiotics.

This results in:

  1. weight loss
  2. Increased energy & Performance
  3. bodies wellness is guarded
  4. age more gracefully
  5. … You feel great!

Maybe your extra time should be spent cooking or learning how athletes eat!!! 

Lactic Threshold … The lactate threshold (LT) (or lactate inflection point (LIP) or anaerobic threshold (AT)) is the exercise intensity at which lactate (more specifically, lactic acid) starts to accumulate in the blood stream.  You go beyond the point where you are getting rid of as much Lactic acid as you are producing causing anaerobic failure.

Maybe your focus should be Lactic Threshold intervals.

VO2 MaxVO2 max is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use. It is measured in milliliters per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min).

Maybe your focus should be increasing your Vo2 Max,

Power to weight ration … Power-to-weight ratio matters because it’s a great predictor of performance. Take two cyclists: Cyclist A can sustain a maximum power output of 250W while Cyclist B can only manage 225W. On a perfectly flat, smooth indoor track (where gravity is not an issue) we can confidently predict that A will be faster than B. On an undulating road, however, power-to-weight begins to matter more. If both cyclists weigh 80kg, A will still be faster. But if A weighs 80kg and B weighs 68kg, cyclist A’s power-to-weight ratio is 3.13W/kg, while B’s is 3.31W/kg. Now B would be faster.  On a flat road, there might not be much in it, but head into the hills and it is cyclist B who will be pulling away.

Needing to generate more watts … to improve your power to weight ration … is weight training to get stronger the best use of your time … or should you trim a few pounds … make sure that if you are a man you are on the low side of 12% -17% body fat and as a women the low side of 17%-22%.  It will make you a lot stronger, faster, more comfortable as your body will require less watts to do the same amount of work!

Training Efficiency … A novice lifting weights spends up to 12 weeks making brain-muscle nerve connections required to improve.  It takes years to build ligament strength necessary to lift heavy.  Significant Progress by a novice weight lifter is normally seen and measured in years not months!

Aerobic  Efficiency … you can make up to 10 miles of capillary network in a week.  Very significant changes are shown in aerobic fitness in a 12 week period.  With a base … in 12 weeks you can actually reach peak conditioning.

Anaerobic efficiency during threshold efforts. … Type 1, red muscle cells, slow twitch muscle cells are characteristically

  • thin muscle fibers
  • red in color (large amounts of myoglobin)
  • slow & sustained contractions
  • does not accumulate lactic acid
  • performs sustained work for longer periods
  • slow & steady

These cells are very responsive and change significantly over a short period of time. They are often best built by performing the disciplines of the competitive events that you are training for.  They respond well to hard efforts with high resistance.

OTHER TRAINING FACTORS: (athletes normally who have decent handle on major factors)

muscular skeletal physical recovery & balance … flexibility & strengthening to balance issues.  This includes injury rehab.

Periodization training … specific training for specific period of time, for a specific goal … many times aimed at fixing an issue

Running Economy training:

  • A measure of how efficiently a person uses oxygen while running, cycling, etc. at a given pace
  • enhanced neuromuscular characteristics such as improved muscle power development and more efficient use of stored elastic energy during running, cycling, etc.


Biomechanic training for Form & Posture (aids in recovery)

Muscle recruitment training

Explosive strength training (required during attacks)

High resistance vs low resistance training

Endurance training a low speed

Core strength training

Now your ready to get your Question answered … With where I am at … “WHAT IS BEST FOR ME?”


About the Author


I serve a thriving, prosperous and growing Wellness Community to promote Exercise, Nutrition and the Mental Skills required to sustain true health.

Follow jimmiedking: