Episode # 33

Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

Subscribe & listen via iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify.

Released on October 15, 2015

In this weeks episode, Joe explains HOW & WHY endurance athletes should be strength training. While listening to this episode, you will learn: 

  • How Joe trained his first marathon runner and what he learned from that experience
  • The physical quality that should be at the base of EVERY athlete’s “athletic pyramid”
  • The single most overlooked component of training endurance athletes
  • The secret to crushing your Crossfit WOD

Weightlifting Weights Sports Venue

  • The biggest mistake Crossfitters make in their training
  • The #1 physical characteristic that has the most carryover to Crossfit events
  • What endurance athletes can learn from Rich Demers (former DeFranco client & UMass fullback/meathead who still holds all the bench press records at DeFranco’s Gym)
  • How endurance athletes can intelligently incorporate a strength program into their weekly training plan
  • In-season training recommendations for endurance athletes

And much, Much MORE!


Thanks for listening!

Thanks for listening!

Do you have feedback, questions or suggestions for the podcast?
Click here to send us feedback

Wanna become a SPONSOR? Click here to get started

Like the show? If you LIKED the show, we would truly appreciate it if you can take 60 seconds to give us “5 Stars” and write a short review (1-2 sentences is fine) on iTunes. We appreciate it!

-The Industrial Strength Show team


  1. Dan,
    There are a bunch of ways you can add conditioning into the SB911 plan…here’s one way for you to do it based on your goals….. MONDAY: Upper Body (as written in SB911 ebook) then finish w/ some intervals/”High-intensity conditioning” at the end of the workout. TUESDAY: Low-intensity aerobic work. WEDNESDAY: Do the Friday Lower Body workout outlined in SB911. Don’t do anything “extra”…just Friday’s Lower Body workout. (This workout is better for you b/c it has the “challenges” at the end.) THURSDAY: Low-intensity aerobic work. FRIDAY: Do the Thursday Upper Body workout outlined in SB911 ebook, then finish w/ some intervals/”High intensity conditioning”. SATURDAY: Low-intensity aerobic work. SUNDAY: Off

  2. Review, questions, and a Rant (not a bad rant though):
    Awesome stuff Joe! Gotta say, you’ve been touching on some pretty relevant subjects for me lately, ranting / venting included sometimes ahaa. The pre-amble back ground story telling is all good…like home depot, love it…but you’ll have to forgive me for being a bit long winded here too if you can make it through :p

    So, Not that I’d call myself an endurance athlete, I’ve always been more of strength / power guy; but I am really trying to find a balance of both these days (work related goals).
    Playing university football a decade ago now (wow), I was reading your blogs / articles, doin some WSFSB stuff…I was definitely at my biggest and strongest; I’m still in the life long pursuit of being a “strong bastard” trying to surpass some strength feats of when I was +10 years younger and +40 pounds heavier…but now I’m tryin to also be “built to last” and well conditioned. I I couldn’t not do it, even knowing that you said it doesn’t have conditioning included, I’ve picked up the SB911 program…looks awesome btw!!! Can’t wait to start it!!! Was there some guidance on adding in some serious conditioning?
    Thoughts on doing SB911 3 days and running in between days -high / low days with tempo / LISS in between? I think you touched on this in a previous podcast a few weeks back about training different energy systems or for different goals concurrently…
    Or maybe intervals after strength days?
    Doing both? I want to go into my tryouts a yoked strong bastard and still turn heads as a well conditioned beast at the same time. I’ve no doubt that SB911 can help me achieve some of this but trying to get that conditioning and endurance stuff in there too… any suggestions would be awesome, but I know you’re also a busy dude (shift work, training, family time and so on – I get it), so thanks if you’ve gotten this far. Thanks for the program, thanks for all the info I’ve gotten through your site thus far (and I’m sure more to come). I’ve never really listened to podcasts before, but things change as I seem to be tuning into yours these days, as I said you’ve been hitting hot topics for me lately, so thanks for putting it out there droppin knowledge that I feel is gonna help me achieve my goals. Grace and Peace -Dan.

  3. Thanks for the reply Joe!
    One question. Is there a way in the 911 program to incorporate a sprintsession (with the intent of getting faster) or do I have to skip that during the 11 week program?

    // Patrick

  4. Peter Dell’Orto – I know EXACTLY where you’re coming from brother…endurance athletes are always trying to turn their strength workouts into a friggin’ marathon!! Lol. I’ve used many different tips, tricks and techniques to get them to do things “my way”, but here’s a logical way I explain things to them (and they usually understand and start listening to me afterwards): When you want them to do 3 sets of 6 (for example), but they just do 1 set of 18 instead…Explain to them that they are in the weightroom to build STRENGTH/POWER (because that is their weakness…they get enough “high rep stuff” on the track.) Getting stronger and more powerful (without gaining significant weight) can improve their stride length and decrease ground contact time which can dramatically improve their running times. 3 sets of 6 is far superior to 1 set of 18 b/c they will be able to produce more force with each and every rep when the reps are “broken up” into 3 sets. To understand this better, picture slamming a basketball into the ground! When the ball first hits the ground it will bounce the highest (greatest force), then the second bounce will be slightly lower (less force), then the third bounce will be lower than the second, etc, etc. The bouncing ball represents each repetition of a set during a given exercise. The first rep is usually the most powerful, then force production drops slightly with each rep. (Think of a 10-rep set… your 10th rep is never as easy as the first, is it??) When developing strength/power, we want as many “1st reps” a possible. In fact, when power/strength is your main goal, 6 sets of 3 would be superior than our 3 sets of 6 example. (9 sets of 2 would be even better for most athletes, but distance runners are so weak, you’re fine sticking in that 6-8 rep range most of the time…I just wanted to hammer home my point.) Explain to your endurance athletes that they are not producing nearly the amount of force during that 18-rep set, compared to doing 6 reps, taking a rest, then doing 6 more, etc. “On paper” they may think “it’s a total of 18 reps with the same weight so what’s the big deal”? The “big deal” is if you looked at the average force produced during those 18 reps (when you did 3×6) – it is MUCH greater than the average force produced during that 1 set of 18. And increasing FORCE PRODUCTION is how you run faster (whether you’re a sprinter or distance runner)! Hope this helped!!
    Joe D.

  5. Great show, as always.

    One question I had is, how do you stop endurance athletes from turning their strength workouts into endurance workouts? I sometimes work with endurance athletes, or with folks with an endurance background. Left on their own many of them quickly turn, say, 3 sets of 6-8 into 1 set of 18-24 into 1 set of 50-100. I know as a trainer what the benefits of keeping the reps lower and upping the weight will do. But especially with clients who train themselves the rest of the time it’s hard to convince them it’s about upping the weight to get stronger and not maximizing the reps with the new weight they can lift. Do you have any coaching approaches you use to keep endurance athletes on track for strength gains?

  6. Scott Curtis – I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to write that in-depth review. MUCH APPRECIATED brother! I definitely have to send you some custom FAT GRIPZ for taking the time…so please email Ashley your mailing address when you see this comment. Tell her you won the Fat Gripz this week. Her email is: ashley@defrancostraining.com

  7. “Pat the swede” – Great question. She did NOT gain a significant amount of weight (2lbs if I remember correctly).
    Here’s my “recipe” for relative strength gains (aka, getting stronger without increasing bodyweight):
    1. Diet obviously plays a major factor so it MUST be addressed. (You can’t be eating a massive amount of calories.) 2. Stick with multiple sets of low reps when performing the main compound lifts (you want to keep them more “neural”, NOT “muscular”) 3. Keep the volume low on the assistance exercises 4. Incorporate the sled as much as possible. (The sled is great for developing strength/power and speeding up the recovery process, while keeping your bodyweight in check. *I feel that the bodyweight stays in check b/c sled work burns a shit ton of calories… and also, the lack of eccentric component prevents you from building as much muscle as you would while strength training w/ barbells, dumbells and “traditional” lifting.

    Hope this helps.

  8. Hey Joe, here is my iTunes Review. I’m not on Twitter or Instagram or any of that. I’m on Facebook but rarely ever use it and wasn’t sure how to post a screen shot of it there.

    Hey Joe, I’ve been a fan for a long time, reading articles and posts on the website and learning so much. However I just started listening to the Podcasts about a month ago and have since listened to all 33 episodes. You have provided for your faithful followers on a new level with the Podcast. I’ve got lots to say so I understand if you don’t have time to read this lengthy review but I’ll at least try to keep it organized.

    First of all, you talked at the start of episode 33 about people complaining about taking too long to get into the “meat and potatoes” of the Podcast so to speak. Personally I love that part of the Podcast. Hearing about your house buying blues, your late nights and long days, or your crazy twin girls (I have two young kids myself) helps me relate and makes it seem like you said, we are sitting down as old buddies catching up over a few cold ones!

    Secondly I love the guests. The first one for me was Kelly Starrett. I had looked at his stuff before and done a bit of distracted stretching but never really stuck with it. See I have nasty bursitis at the insertion of the patellar tendon on both legs as well as a slight tear in the meniscus of my right knee. After this Podcast I took a broken green jump stretch band and used it to Voodoo Floss my right knee in hopes I could create some gapping and relieve the annoying meniscus pain. It did help a lot but the best part was that my bursitis pain went away! I quickly flossed the other one and I’ve now been flossing my knees daily and have had little to no bursitis symptoms even after playing basketball – Thank you Joe D and Kelly for that one! I have since bought some Voodoo Floss from Rouge Fitness Canada and gave a piece to my Dad which has done wonders for his shoulder issues.

    Also from the Starrett interview I have really tried to incorporate more distracted stretching and rolling out into my daily routine because like Kelly mentioned to make a difference it has to become a part of your every day. Both have helped a lot and I’m waiting for my Yoga Tune up balls to arrive in the mail so I can add those to the lacrosse ball work I’ve been doing. I also want to try that Coregeous ball.

    The third thing from the Podcast that has helped me was from the discussion with Smitty, who I have also followed for years online. You guys talked about two key things that I have grabbed onto and made a part of my life. The first is breathing, I have been really focusing on my breathing while rolling out and doing the distracted stretching as well as at night before going to sleep. In both cases I really believe the deep breathing techniques have helped a lot. The second thing from the Smitty interview was the idea of the brain dump. I’ve got a lot going on and it has helped me so much to get all my thoughts out and then organized on paper. I’m a teacher and have always had my daily lesson plans well organized but my family and home life has always been fly by the seat of my pants. Now I find myself getting way more done around the house and having more time to spend with my wife and kids. Thanks Joe D and Smitty!

    On top of all the personal life and injury help I’ve gotten from the Podcast I’ve been learning so much that I’ve incorporated into my training. I’m most certainly in the skinny bastard category and felt like I was in a rut and not really into my training for the last while. The Podcast has totally changed that and I’m stoked about every workout again.

    Once again thanks so much for all you do Coach. Now that I’m all caught up with the episodes I can’t wait for next Thursday to roll around.

    Take care and keep killing it!

    Scott Curtis

  9. Awesome! As always. What about the addes weight in form of muscle vs the actual strenght ? Any thoughts? Did ur 90ib runner Gain Any weight and how do deal with that? The relative strenght aspect?

    Would Love to hear you’re thoughts !

    Keep up the good work Coach

  10. “I WILL NOT BE YOUR PERSONAL TRAINING HOOKER!!” LOLOL I’m only 11min into listening to this episode and I already love it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *