Fitness expert, TV host, IsoWhey® Sports ambassador and self-confessed former strength training junkie, Andrew ‘Pap’ Papadopoulos, knows a thing or two about weights workouts, but it wasn’t until he had to really mix up his pre-endurance race training regime that he ended up happiest and in the best shape of his life. Here are five reasons he’s found strength training isn’t the be all and end all if you want your best body!
Story by Andrew Pap
In the seven years of my training career, most of my energy was focused on strength training. I used to be able to squat 200kg, deadlift 240kg and bench press 180kg before I was thrown into the foreign world of ultra-endurance racing.
After competing in a 24-hour hurt camp to secure my spot as the face of season two search4hurt, I put myself through a year of training and competing in various ultra-endurance sports that I would have never imagined putting myself through prior.
I have finished the devastating 100km North Face 100, a 24-hour True Grit Enduro obstacle race, a 24-hour mountain bike race and last month, I took on my biggest challenge yet: the 250km Big Red Run in the Simpson Desert.
By changing my focus from strength to endurance, of course my strength PBs have been affected because endurance events are on a completely different spectrum from strength training. In order to complete ultra-endurance activities, I need to train multiple facets of fitness and as a result, I have never felt more athletic, focused, motivated, happy and active as I do now.
Here are the reasons strength training isn’t the ‘be all and end all’ and why mixing up your training styles could be the key to your fitness success:
1. YOU BECOME MORE VERSATILE
Gone are the days when training is all about body building, but don’t get me wrong, strength training is still important for many reasons, including stabilising your joints, strengthening your bones, building muscle and even burning fat (as 2 kilograms of muscle will burn around 400 kilojoules per day).
The key to my success in endurance racing has been to mix many variations of training into my weekly routine.
Obviously it’s vital I get enough kilometres under my belt, but I am also doing high intensity circuit training and strength training- especially to build leg strength to help with my running performance over such large distances in harsh terrain and elevation.
I am also swimming, stretching and doing yoga for recovery and sometimes I will throw in a mountain bike or SUP session just for fun!
Training holistically lets you to be versatile when looking at your training, keeps you engaged, keeps your body guessing and helps you become a well-rounded athlete.
2. YOU HIT MORE SATISFYING TARGETS
Although achieving a weight lifting PB is exciting, for me it doesn’t even compare to the feeling of completing your first marathon.
Having events to train for holds you accountable, gives you a time frame to achieve your goas in and keeps you motivated.
Also, obstacle courses, running events and mountain bike events are more accessible to the public. These events are a great way to keep clients (and you) motivated and also achieve goals in a team environment if that motivates you.
3. IT’S AN ADVENTURE
The beauty of doing endurance events is that they are often situated in beautiful locations. Think the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival, Gold Coast Marathon and the North Face 100 in the Blue Mountains, NSW.
There are also fun adventure races that you can train for, including obstacle courses, orienteering events, mountain bike races and more.
After all, you can’t exactly do a one-rep max in the bush!
4. YOU CAN DO IT LONG TERM
Changing up your training style is key as it keeps your body guessing, and on days when you are feeling particularly fatigued, pushing your body further may result in stress injuries.
It is important to also work on other aspects of your fitness such as mobility and flexibility to help reduce your risk of injury.
Most people won’t be able to weight lift forever, so mixing it up and ensuring that you are doing different things should be beneficial to your quality of life.
5. IT’S WAY MORE FUN
Being in a team environment or belonging to a group can be very motivating for some people. Many people crave comradery as they may feel isolated at times in their day-to-day lives. Most of us wake up, go to work, sit in front of a computer for hours and then spend the rest of our time interacting on social media.
A group training environment can help provide people with the normal social interactions that they crave while also doing great things for their health and wellbeing.
Regardless of your goals, strength training will always have its place, however, mixing different forms of fitness into your training program will always improve your lifestyle, performance and mental wellbeing.
Follow Andrew’s endurance race adventures on Instagram here.