Want To Run, Bike or Row Faster? Lift Some Heavy Weights!

Strength training is awesome in and of itself. However, not everyone lifts weights to get bigger and stronger for the sake of getting bigger and stronger. Any athlete who trains or competes in any kind of sport can benefit from strength training.

Is your main sport time-based, meaning you run, swim, cycle or row a certain distance as fast as possible? Then you will benefit from heavy weight training.

That’s the conclusion from a recent systematic review and meta-analysis. It reviewed a total of 28 randomized controlled trials looking at the impacts of strength training on any kind of Olympic time-based performance.

The researchers found that if you engage in strength training, you can expect a moderate positive effect on your performance in a time-based sport. Whether you are a runner, a cyclist, a rower, or any other kind of athlete engaging in a time-based sport, weight training will make you reach the finish line faster.

Just going through the motions in the gym won’t cut it, though. Only heavy weight training produced any significant effect. In addition, the meta-analysis showed that strength training to add anything to your time-based performance if you are already well-trained. If you’re just starting out, additional weight training won’t make you faster. Strength training is still a good idea, for health reasons and for physical performance in general. It likely won’t help you in this instance, though, at least not yet.

In summary, if your primary goal is to become a better athlete in an Olympic time-based sport, don’t forget to hit the gym, too, and put some plates on the bar. Two to three strength training sessions per week, using a 3 to 12RM load for 1 to 6 sets will help you reach the finish line in record time.


International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. Volume 14:Issue 10, 2019. Pages: 1318–1330. Effects of Strength Training on Olympic Time-Based Sport Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.

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Andreas Abelsson

Andreas is a certified nutrition coach and bodybuilding specialist with over three decades of training experience. He has followed and reported on the research fields of exercise, nutrition, and health for almost as long and is a specialist in metabolic health and nutrition coaching for athletes. Read more about Andreas and StrengthLog by clicking here.