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Buying into the myth, runners neglected to lift weights because they thought it would add body-slowing bulk, yet we know now that greater strength will ultimately improve endurance. Sadly, this myth came to pass because strength training was being lumped into the bodybuilding culture; with bodybuilders lifting weights to get bigger, as well as for definition and physical symmetry.
In the early eighties, endurance athletes began supplementing some endurance training with weight training in hopes of improving endurance only to have mixed results. Some of the athletes did gain strength, but they also gained weight. However, this modest improvement in strength-to-weight ratio was not enough to justify the energy expended on performing the additional workouts. While others saw a drop in their strength-to-weight ratio, the problem for both groups was that the endurance athletes were doing bodybuilding-style workouts designed to grow muscle size with little to no improvement in functional strength.
An endurance athlete's most valuable attribute is their strength-to-weight ratio, which can be impaired by bulk-building weight training. The good news is this coveted ratio can also be improved with the proper strength training techniques specifically designed for endurance athletes. Strength can be a significant benefit for an endurance athlete, so stay tuned for the next instalment of Strength Training for Endurance Athletes which will discuss weight lifting to gain upper body muscle, and how this improves muscle efficacy and overall endurance.