Does Endurance Training Maintain Muscle Mass and Strength?
Triathletes have no shortage of aerobic exercise each week as they train for all 3 components of their sport, but often what they leave out is strength training. Strength training has been shown to reduce injury risk and improve performance in swimming, cycling, and running. The impact of this training is most noticeable in the athlete’s economy during each component of the event allowing them to sustain a higher power output, at a relatively lower level of aerobic capacity, compared to individuals who do not strength train.
In an older study authors examined the impact of strength training on muscle strength and muscle size among athletes who completed resistance training, running, or swimming for at least 10 years (Klitgaard et al. 1990). The authors reported older athletes who completed resistance training had muscle cross section area and strength similar to younger sedentary individuals. Surprisingly, the subjects who only competed running or swimming activities had similar muscle cross sectional area and strength to their sedentary peers. The authors concluded that the regular performance of only endurance exercise was not able to prevent the loss of strength or muscle size associated with the aging process.
Endurance athletes are encouraged to perform regular strength training to slow the effects of aging and to improve their performance within their sports. To learn more about how to incorporate strength training into your workouts contact a local Physical Therapist.