Thursday, April 05, 2012
Muscular Endurance, Part 2
Last week’s post on training muscular endurance generated some questions requiring further explanation. Let’s do a little q and a.
Jonathan Mann asks, “Would this work well alongside marathon training?”
Yes, depending...(remember this answer). All athletes benefit from training muscular endurance and, in fact, it also will help those who are just trying to change their body composition. The more efficient the systems in your body work the easier it is to target the one you need to make the biggest physiological changes. This is true whether your goal is to run a marathon fast, a quick 100 meters, or to look better in a bathing suit.
The variation lies in how much time you spend training it. A 100 meter athlete will very little of their time on muscular endurance but will still address it*. A marathoner, being an ‘endurance athlete’, would appear have more direct need to train this system but this mainly gets covered in your sports specific training so, while you’ll still want to spend a phase training muscular endurance you will be best served by periodizing your training to cover all the bases: endurance, strength, and power.
Also, as I said in my short answer to his question, you’d want to do this training away from the time you’re trying to run fast. When body composition training is occurring it always takes a toll on your performance, which is why most hard training is done during the off-season.
Off topic, but on a similar theme, there were a couple of questions on mixing running with P90X2. The answer is it depends but the above paragraph spells it out further. You can run during X2 just fine but you’ll want to do mainly base work (aerobic and/or drills). If you wanted to do X2 during the last prep phases before a race (and you care how fast you run) I would severely abridge the program. Search “P90X running steve edwards” and you’ll find an article or two I wrote on how you might do this.
Finally, Bobby from Norco writes, I was curious when you would put this into a cycle and when you would see the relative benefits (also how long they would last so you could see performance gains including this glycolytic boost)?
Of course, this depends. I like to put muscular endurance training early in a cycle in general because it will make the processes your train later more efficient. There are arguments for placing it elsewhere, all based around your ultimate goals, personal weaknesses, and how much time you have to cycle your training. It’s easier to increase endurance parameters than power parameters so if absolute strength is what you want to increase most you may begin with training that, whether you are a power or endurance athlete. The only answer here that doesn't depend is that you get the best results targeting one system at a time. This is why if time is no issue (rarely the case) systematic training is a better option than trying to improve all of your physiological processes at once.
The same answer applies to how long the results with last, which is based on what you do. If you stop training your results won’t last very long and the same is true if you over train. If you train perfectly you’ll basically never lose your results but if that were possible this entire game we’re playing and, in fact, probably even sports would cease to exist. As a general rule I like to do at least one cycle (3 to 6 weeks) of muscular endurance per year in the gym (how much sports specific muscular endurance training I do, well, depends...).
*Power athletes should all read Speed Trap, a book written by Charlie Francis, former world record 100 meter runner Ben Johnson’s coach
pic: don't confuse muscular endurance with endurance training. too much endurance training takes away from power and vice-versa, but efficient muscle cell function gained by training allows you to better target goals in either realm, power or endurance.