The Importance of Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

As many of you may know, strength training is a crucial but often missed aspect of any endurance athlete’s training plan, or any active person for that matter! Now the reason this is missed by endurance athletes is exactly because their training deliberately focuses on just that… ENDURANCE. They do this by training the cardiovascular system and therefore improving their ability to run, cycle, or swim for long periods, for example. 

While this type of training is of course essential, incorporating strength training into your routine also has several key benefits that can both enhance overall performance and reduce the risk of injury too… now who doesn’t want that!

Ok, let’s get into it...

Increased Power and Speed

Weight training helps promote hypertrophy, which is the process of increasing the actual size of muscles. Not only that, specific strength and hypertrophy training helps to develop the contractility of skeletal muscle fibres, thereby increasing force output and acceleration from each muscle contraction. 

This results in improved speed, strength, and power, which can help you increase the speed or velocity of your movement during your endurance training. For example, a runner who has incorporated strength training into their routine will be well adapted and show improved muscular strength and endurance and be able to produce more force with each stride, allowing them to cover more ground in less time – and to an extent with the same level of perceived effort compared to when they were untrained from a strength perspective.

Improved Endurance

As we mentioned previously, weight training can also improve your muscular endurance. By building muscle mass and increasing the strength of each muscle contraction, you will improve your muscles’ fatigue resistance and ability to generate and sustain high levels of intensity for longer periods. This can lead to improved performance in endurance events and delay the onset of excessive fatigue during training and on event day.

Reduced Risk of Injury

Strength training can also help to reduce the risk of injury in endurance athletes. By strengthening the muscles, addressing imbalances and improving the overall stability of key joints, endurance athletes are less likely to suffer from overuse injuries. 

This is especially important for athletes who are participating in high-impact sports like running, where the repeated impact of each stride can increase the risk of injury if the body is not sufficiently adapted as training progresses.

Reducing the risk of injury and also improving recovery time should you become injured (unfortunately this is still going to happen at some point), will lead to greater consistency in training over time. Less modified or missed training days means more time spent putting in the hard graft and improving.

Better Body Composition

Strength training in combination with endurance training and quality nutrition can also help to improve body composition. By building muscle mass and reducing body fat, endurance athletes can achieve a leaner, lighter physique alongside a more efficient set of energy systems that is overall better suited to long-distance events. This can result in improved performance and faster race times. 

Now, there’s no ‘ideal’ body type in any sport, there will always be variations, but that’s part of the reason why sport is for everyone!

Improved Mental Toughness

Finally, (this is our favourite benefit) strength training can also help to build mental toughness and fortitude. By pushing your limits in the weight room and learning to overcome physical challenges, you can develop the mental toughness and resilience that is so important for endurance athletes. This can help you stay focused and motivated during tough races and training sessions. 

Not only that, but it also adds variety and skill development to your training too. That way you are training both your body and your mind!

Our Top Tips...

Whether you have weight trained before or not, here’s a few handy tips for you to maximise your time in the gym and get the results you deserve.

Warm up: Start with a 5–10-minute cardiovascular warm-up to get your heart rate up and loosen your muscles. This next bit is optional, but you follow that with some dynamic stretching to further loosen up and prepare for your session.

Exercise selection: Focus on compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups at once such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, and rows. You can also incorporate isolation exercises such as bicep curls and triceps extensions to target specific muscle groups. 

If you are relatively new and worried about using bars, benches, and dumbbells, try cable or fixed machines to help you focus on the movement and muscle group without the worry of stability. 

As you progress, you will definitely want to move towards the bars, benches and dumbbells to help add variation and challenge to your workout.


Focus on form: Start with lighter weights to get a feel for the exercises, master the correct movement and avoid injury. Gradually increase weight as you become stronger and more comfortable with the movements. 

Good form is key to avoid injury and maximize results. Make sure you understand the proper technique for each exercise. If you’re ever stuck or not sure, just ask a trusted expert like a personal trainer at your local gym.


Set goals: Decide what you want to achieve (e.g., increase strength, build muscle, improve power) and create a plan to reach your goals. Set small, achievable goals and track your progress.

Progressive overload: To achieve the best results without risking burnout, illness, or injury, you will want to gradually increase the volume and intensity of your training. There are a lot of modifiable variables in training for you to use to achieve this. It could be as simple as increasing weight, rep ranges, or reducing recovery time. It all depends on the adaptation you are trying to achieve.

The important thing most of all is consistency! Consistency and adherence to a training plan is by far the biggest indicator and determinant of making gains, especially when it comes to hypertrophy.


Rest and recover: Weight training puts stress on your muscles and joints, so it’s important to give them time to recover – just like you do with your endurance training. Some people recover incredibly quickly, others don’t and unless you give it a go, at least to start with, you can’t be really sure which category you fall into. 

Sleep, nutrition, and hydration are perhaps more important than time away from activity. Making you sure consume the right type and quantity of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and electrolytes will go a long way to fuelling your body for exercise and recovery.


Stay consistent: We’ve already said it, but we can’t emphasise it enough. Consistency beats intensity, every time! So keep it simple, sustainable, and enjoyable and then you are half way there!

Remember, it’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. If you experience pain or discomfort, stop the exercise and consult a trusted expert or medical professional! 

 Train safe, train hard, and most importantly, have fun!

The Bottomline...

So, there you have it! Strength training really is an important aspect of any endurance athlete’s training regimen. It can help to increase power and speed, improve endurance, reduce the risk of injury, improve body composition, and build mental toughness. 

So, if you're an endurance athlete, consider incorporating strength training using some of these tips and let us know how you get on!


If you enjoyed reading this, why not share this with someone who you know would benefit from reading this too! The U Perform family loves sharing ideas and encouraging each other.

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