Lifting heavier weights, for both men and women,
….has been shown to be the most effective way for people trying to lose weight, as opposed to longer bouts of aerobic activity such as jogging, walking, etc.
Will improve your racing performance, if that’s your bag (it’s mine, besides staying alive for a lot longer!).
And here are some other, really important, advantages of heavier weights:
First of all, bone strengthening. There is a specific biological process that makes your body lay down more bone material in response to the kind of stress that we only get from heavy resistance training.
Reduce your injury risk by working weaker muscles and correcting imbalances which will allow you to do more, for longer, without hurting something.
And a real goodie: strength-training boosts running economy, allowing you to hold the same pace while burning less oxygen. And all of this becomes even more important once you reach your mid-30s and start fighting age-related muscle loss.
BUT, don’t just jump into heavy if you’ve been working with light weights. Gradually increase the amount of poundage. Injury can happen in a couple ways: first, the muscles aren’t used to heavy stress and secondly, if you’re using free weights, your balance can be affected….you can get injured if you fall.
Here’s some Hows and Whys:
Recent studies have shown that little dumbbells, big barbells, or body-weight exercises can produce similar gains as long as you lift to momentary failure, the point at which you can’t complete another rep with perfect form….in other words, when things start to wobble around or when the move doesn’t look like it did when you started. With heavier weights it might be 5 reps, with lighter weight it might be 25 reps.
You don’t have to spend a long time: a well-known endurance coach doesn’t have his people spend more than a half hour “in the gym” a couple times a week… just doing the basics for strength: squats, pull-ups, push-ups, body core work, deadlifts, and so on.
Sometimes you’ll strength train for the very exact need: for instance, running, where the run specific muscles are worked; single leg quarter squats, “ankle pulls” (lifting the leg backwards with a weight, single leg deadlift, and others.
The point here is that overall performance is improved by strength training with heavier weights. However, since there is only so much time to train for weight loss or for a sport (because most people already have a life) you need to create a slot in your day to work at it.
Be aware, if you’re strength-training for an event then endurance training and strength-training place competing demands on your body; strength training is best left for a separate day or AFTER your endurance workout. Putting muscle strain before a [bike session, for example] will cut down the cardio gain you could have with fresh muscles eating oxygen instead of tired muscles trudging along not performing at peak efficiency.
The Jackrabbit says “I do my weight workouts whenever I can, and if Elmer Fudd is shooting at me (look him up, kids) I can outrun the shotgun.” So take the Jackrabbit’s advice (I sure do) and start doing some heavy stuff!
-Thanks to American College of Sports Medicine, ISSA, Training Peaks