Three Things to Know About Creating a Simple Gym Routine for Everyday Endurance Athletes
- Use the six main movements of how our body naturally moves.
- Do enough repetitions to fatigue but not blitz the muscles.
- Build in two sessions a week to prevent injury, add strength, and build better movement.
Everyday Endurance Athletes Only Need a Simple Strength Routine
I create a simple strength routine for every Simple Endurance Coaching client.
Year-round strength training is critical to build performance for everyday endurance athletes and an essential part of every coaching program at Simple.
Strength training twice a week will help build a stronger foundation for the work you’re asking your body to do.
Building muscle helps endurance, makes you more durable and resilient and builds the core and hip strength to muscle up climbs and sprints.
But what do you do, and how do you fit it into your regular training?
How our bodies move helps create a simple gym routine
The six movements of the human body are an easy and effective structure for your simple strength routine.
These movements can be done with a variety of exercises, depending on your experience and comfort with free weights.
Plus you can alternate the movements to maximize your efficiency in the gym.
So full-body strength training for endurance sports does not need to mean long hours in the gym.
Here’s an example of a routine you can do during the season with or without weights.
The 6 movements help create a simple strength routine
I read a lot of research about strength training for cyclists and runners.
While there are some exercises, like deadlifts and kettlebell swings, that directly help cyclists, most of what we need is overall physical strength.
Face it, if you ride or run all the time, you’re going to get hurt.
But if you use a simple strength routine that gets all of you stronger and more resilient, your performance will improve.
Six main types of basic human movement
The six movements are:
- Chest Push – to develop chest and arm strength
- Chest Pull – to develop back and arm strength
- Shoulder Push – to develop shoulder, arm, and upper body strength
- Shoulder Pull – to develop shoulder, arm, back strength
- Hinge – deadlift-type movements that strengthen glutes, hamstrings, hip stabilizers, and lower back.
- Squat – to develop leg, hip, and back strength.
If you use these six movements to build a simple strength routine, you’ll build the strength, durability, and endurance you need as an everyday endurance athlete.
It’s true that there are other ways of structuring time in the gym: Pull/Pull, body parts, etc.
That’s fine if you want to spend more time in the gym.
But if your goal is to build overall strength, the more time you can spend on your sport, the better.
I also add specific core work and a side lunge to build additional stabilizing strength.
One movement might be several different exercises
The best part about using these six movements to build a simple strength routine is that you have a lot of options.
For example, a chest push might be a bench press, dumbbell press, dumbbell flys, seated cable press, machine chest press, or TRX bands.
And a chest pull might be seated rows, cable rows, bent over rows with a dumbbell, band pulls, inverted rows with a barbell, etc.
As long as you do at least one exercise for each of these movements, you’ll get a full-body strength workout.
Examples of how the six movements can be used to pick different exercises
Friend, client, and everyday endurance athlete Amanda helped me to show you some basic moves with strength training and how we can adapt the movements in different ways.
- Shoulder press exercises involve pushing a weight of some sort over your head.
You can use machines at the gym, especially if you have range of motion challenges in lifting something over your head.
You can also use bands, bars, kettlebells, and dumbbells as the weights.
- Shoulder pull exercises involve working primarily your upper back and shoulders.
There are a variety of ways of doing shoulder pulls, including deadlifts and pullups.
You can also use bands, bars, kettlebells, and dumbbells as the weights.
- Chest Pull exercises are among the most important for everyday endurance athletes, particularly for cyclists.
Horizontal pull movements strengthen primarily your back, which, in turn, stabilizes your entire body when you are moving.
- Chest Press exercises are critical elements to a full-body strength routine as they build stability in your torso.
You can do horizontal pushing exercises standing with a cable or a band, or lying on your back with dumbbells or a barbell.
- Hip Hinges are some of the most important exercises for endurance athletes, particularly runners and cyclists.
Hip Hinge movements stress your posterior chain (back, glutes, hamstrings), which propel you forward and keep your body stabilized and strong.
Deadlifts are an example of a hip hinge, and we’re doing some more specific straight-leg hip hinges that focus more on building glute strength.
- There are many effective core strengthening exercises.
One of my favorites is the elbow plank rotation.
- Most everyday endurance athletes have really strong quad muscles.
So I honestly often don’t prescribe much in the way of barbell squats, since they primarily work the quads.
Instead, I suggest deadlifts to clients to focus more on glute and back strength.
However, a good Goblet Squat can offer extra kinds of stress that help endurance athletes improve their performance.
- The deadlift is one of the most effective strength training exercises for endurance athletes.
Done correctly, a deadlift, essentially lifting something heavy off the floor, can be full-body strength training.
The deadlift is a hip-dominant exercise that typically stresses the glutes, hamstrings, and back.
Plus you get arm and shoulder work from pulling the weight, and core stress from holding everything together
Deadlifts with a trap bar
Deadlifts with a barbell
Deadlifts with kettlebells or dumbbells
Less stable equals more strength
I will always advocate for dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, and other “unstable” loads for your exercise.
An “unstable load” is an exercise that requires stabilizer muscles to hold up the weight.
For example, if you do a one-arm dumbbell chest press, that exercise utilizes not only your chest and arm, but the whole side to keep you from rolling off the bench!
The dumbbell is very unstable, and you have to use more stabilizer muscles to keep the dumbbell stable.
Alternatively, if you do a machine chest press, you primarily use just your chest and arm muscles in isolation.
Those stabilizer muscles aren’t as required.
One of the best exercises for cyclists and runners is a Bulgarian Split Squat, where you put your back foot on a bench, bend your back knee down to the floor, and raise up on your front foot.
Adding dumbbells on your side, at your shoulders, or even over your head makes the exercise even more unstable!
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