Integrating strength work during race season

Strength work is a valuable part of your training regimen both as a way to improve power output and for preventing injuries. Here’s a guide for how to continue to reap the benefits of strength work even during racing season.

| March 29, 2017 | TRAINING

by Taylor Thomas

In this day and age most endurance athletes understand the importance of integrating some type of strength work into their training. However, for many athletes, strength is the first activity to get tossed out when their focus turns toward race season. The thought is that in order to be successful at one’s primary sport, all of an athlete’s available time must be spent practicing that sport. While an intense focus and increased volume is often necessary to achieve your goals, this doesn’t mean that a strength routine can’t remain a part of your training. Maintaining a strength regimen, when done correctly, can be just as valuable during race season as it is during the off-season.

Why is Strength Training Important?

For most endurance athletes it’s safe to assume that the primary goal of training is to improve and prepare for racing with each passing season. Regardless of the discipline and focus, every season the goal is the same: to get better. So, with that goal in mind, we can easily identify why it is that strength work is an important part of structured training:

What Should Strength Training Look Like During Race Season?

Most athletes spend the winter in the gym focusing on weighted strength work to increase both force and power. This is a valuable use of time since these gains can be directly applied to the early stages of race season build up. Assuming the work has been done in the gym, the focus shifts to more of a maintenance-based approach as you near your first race, and then through the height of the season. Using strength work to continue to develop or maintain a strong core, correct imbalances and aid in injury prevention is the goal. You don’t want it to add too much fatigue thus negatively impacting your training and preparation for racing. Here are several areas to focus on while actively training for priority events:

Strength training shouldn’t be an afterthought once race prep begins. While the approach and focus will and should change, it’s important to still continue to maintain a strength regimen. A strong core, improved form, efficiency and power are all valuable during race season. Use strength workouts as an opportunity to fine-tune your training and sharpen any weaknesses. There’s no doubt that the time invested in a properly executed strength routine will pay dividends when race day comes.

Taylor Thomas is the owner and founder of Thomas Endurance Coaching. He has more than a decade of experience in the bicycle industry as an athlete, coach, race promoter, and team organizer. As a USAC and TrainingPeaks Level 2 Certified coach he's helped athletes at every level prepare for and reach their goals in road, mountain, and cyclocross. Browse his pre-built training plans on TrainingPeaks, or for more information on personal coaching and custom training plans visit www.thomasendurancecoaching.com. Follow him at @endurance_coach.