I am a big believer in the right strength training program improving an endurance athletes performance. Think about it- why does a man always cross the finish line first? What is the main difference between males and females to make him faster? The only difference is strength. He is stronger than her. Improving your strength can improve your speed as well as decrease injuries and make you a better endurance athlete. I lifted weights with a functional strength program right through training for my Ironman.
A study done at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida showed that using a strength training program 4x a week for 6 weeks, shaved a minute off of 5K times.
The program included-
Swiss Ball Crunches
and Bird Dog
These are all great core exercises and a pretty good regimine for a 5Ker. Looking back at past research most of the studies used extremely non functional strength training exercises like leg extensions or leg curls and ofcourse showed no improvement. No wonder strength training got a bad rap in the endurance community- they only had done studies using bodybuilder exercises that absolutely won't translate to a faster 5K time.
It is nice to hear about a study that used exercises that really work to see if there would be an improvement and there was!
Add in the above exercises to your regimen if you are an endurance athlete and feel the difference for yourself. Every step you take you will be more efficient, have more strength and therefore more power!