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Improvement of Performance Through Training Techniques

The importance of training

Either due to natural talent or tenacity of spirit, many endurance athletes make tremendous gains in athletic capabilities without the benefit of a comprehensive training program. However, a training program geared to suit your needs can show you how to develop that natural talent to have you performing at an optimal level.

Where to begin

Before you begin or change your current program, discuss any limitations you may have with your doctor. Limitations, such as injuries, require a training program to be adapted or modified to suit your needs. If you have an injury, see a health professional to determine what that injury is--and how to treat it--before beginning or changing a program.

Knowing your limits

Exercise is a stress. In most cases it is a positive stress, but it can be negative. Make sure that you understand the limits that you face based on your age, gender and other factors. Your past history of exercise has little bearing on today. Be realistic in your expectations. Also, recognize that heat, cold, and altitude change your body’s reaction to exercise.

The benefits of strength training

Strength training helps to prevent injuries, but it has other benefits as well. Strength training can improve resting metabolism, help you to keep a stable weight, decrease body fat, and improve economy of motion during cardiovascular exercise.

Appropriate considerations for strength training

Strength training should be initiated approximately 14 weeks prior to a scheduled event. Heavier strength training takes place during the "off season" when cardio is in the maintenance phase. Find out what type of strength training is appropriate for you.

When performing strength training, keep in mind the following:

  • Do not do strength training the week of an event
  • Do not begin strength training during heavy cardio training
  • Remember that core strength is essential
  • Concentrate on toning large muscle groups
  • Build for tone, not for bulk
The concern for overtraining

Remember, there should be a balance between a high level of training and overtraining. Beware of the symptoms of overtraining. These include:

  • Psychological aversion to activity
  • Chronic soreness
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Increased likelihood of injury
  • Longer recovery time
  • Mild depression
  • Decreased performance in strength and/or endurance
Choosing a trainer

When you are choosing a trainer, find out all you can about the person’s credentials and experience. Ask about the person’s education. Take a look around the facility and ask for demonstrations. A little investigation can go a long way toward helping you find the right trainer for your needs.

Myths about strength training

The following are myths about strength training:

  • Endurance athletes should not be muscular
  • Strength training will decrease my flexibility
  • I don’t need to strengthen lower body because that is what running/cycling is for
  • If I use the machines fast enough, my endurance will improve
  • Strength training only needs to be done once a week
  • I only need to strengthen certain muscles
  • Strength training will just make me gain weight

Additional information

Please keep in mind that not all fitness information is reliable. Know the source of information and use nationally recognized organizations. Some reliable sources of information include:

© 1995-2010 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

Can't find the health information you’re looking for?

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 2/12/2010...#12941