Leg fatigue

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #6566
    Thrusthamster
    Participant

    I’ve been doing mostly aerobic zone endurance training, besides strength training and climbing. My issue always seems to be that my legs get fatigued to the point where they get wobbly and it’s hard to take steps. This usually presents itself on the way down from mountains or on hilly training days. On 12 hour days I never really get a problem where I’m fatigued when it comes to breathing or energy, it’s always my legs specifically.

    Is the emphasis of TFTNA’s philosophy on aerobic zone training something that will remedy this over time, or should I do something specific to address it?

  • Keymaster
    Scott Johnston on #6570

    Thrusty;

    Yours is a strength issue. I’ve got first hand knowledge of this problem 😉

    Spend more time working on developing max strength for step ups AND step downs. You’ll be pleasently surprised how the increase in strength translates in to increased (muscular) endurance.

    I’ve got wimpy legs and this has worked well for me over the years.

    Scott

    Keymaster
    Scott Johnston on #6571

    Thrusty;

    Yours is a strength issue. I’ve got first hand knowledge of this problem 😉

    Spend more time working on developing max strength for step ups AND step downs. You’ll be pleasently surprised how the increase in strength translates in to increased (muscular) endurance.

    I’ve got wimpy legs and this has worked well for me over the years.

    Scott

    Participant
    Thrusthamster on #6572

    Thanks Scott.

    Is it possible it’s a strength endurance issue rather? I can do sets of 10 with my bodyweight for squats (that’s, my bodyweight in plates on the barbell) and 10 pistol squats and both legs. Maybe I should work step-ups specifically, but I didn’t think my max leg strength would be an issue.

    Participant
    Thrusthamster on #6583

    Example: Went alpine climbing a bit over a month ago. On the hike back after a 2 km ridge climb my legs were pretty achey and I got that shaky/legs are jello feeling.

    Then I felt the same on a 3 hour session up and down a steep ski slope. 3 weeks ago.

    Then again on a 4 hour stair climb 1 week ago, where they got so bad I had to stop.

    But today I did a 5 hour stair climb, and didn’t have to stop. Legs still felt very fatigued but I fared much better than last time.

    If endurance work seems to fix it, wouldn’t it be an endurance issue rather?

    Participant
    jp.laroche on #6585

    Is it possible it’s a strength endurance issue rather? I can do sets of 10 with my bodyweight for squats (that’s, my bodyweight in plates on the barbell)

    Hi Thrusthamster,

    I guess your goal is not to become a weightlifter but here is relevant chart of strenght standards for the squat: http://www.exrx.net/Testing/WeightLifting/SquatStandards.html

    On the same website, you can also find the relevant standards for deadlift, press, etc.

    For men, one easy to remember standard for a decent amount of strenght is around 1.5x BW for the squat, probably around 2x BW for the deadlift.

    Participant
    Thrusthamster on #6587

    Yes, I know, I’ve competed in powerlifting. Working back up after a back injury last year now.

    Last year I did 1.5x bodyweight squats for 10 reps and 2x bodyweight deadlifts for 10 reps, but I still had the same issue with leg fatigue in the mountains. Perhaps not quite as bad as now, now that I think about it… I remember attributing that at the time to doing a lot of sessions of 5 sets of 15 with lunges up to 60 kg.

    Participant
    Nick K on #6588

    Step ups specifically would probably help: it sounds like it’s primarily the descents that are getting you, so you’re probably missing some eccentric strength, and step ups will have some more of that than just squats.

    If you really don’t want to do step ups, you could try tempo pistols or split squats with a 3111 tempo. Also, Mountain Athlete’s Leg Blasters and Quadzilla complexes work really well, but have a pretty big recovery hit.

    Keymaster
    Scott Johnston on #6592

    Thrusty: This is long so bear with me.

    Hmmmm; I remember now that you have a powerlifting background. You’re right, it does not sound like a strength issue if you are lifting 2xBW for these basic lifts.

    Something I have noticed over the years of working with all sorts of high level endurance athletes is that only a tiny minority of them can come anywhere near to the kinds os strengths suggested in typical strength charts as given in the link above by jp.laroche. I’m talking from my own very puny leg strength to people like Steve, Luke, David, Kilian and even Olympic level XC skiers. Not one of these very successful athletes besides Steve and one of my top skiers, Sam Naney (who coaches for us now) could lift 2x BW. Most can’t even lift 1xBW. So tosss those charts when talking endurance athletes.

    My conclusion based on 2 decades of training these folks:
    While it is generally accepted that a certain level of basic (non sport specific) strength is helpful for endurance, at some point increasing basic strength has diminishing and perhaps even negative returns on endurance.

    Some reasons for this MIGHT be:
    1) Time and energy spent lifting is not being spend running up and down mountains.
    2) There is a (documented) interference between the different signaling pathways for adaptations to strength and endurance training.

    I honestly do not know the answer and I have never seen this issue dealt with scientifically.

    My take away is that endurance athletes just do not need to be THAT strong to be successful. The longer the event the more true this is. In a recent discussion I had with Kilian I know he feels that way. He did quite a bit of strength training as a kid but does no weight lifting now. He’s not a good example because he’s training 25 hours a week with 15,000 meters vertical in most weeks. But still his ideas seem to agree with my observations. He’s getting his very specific kind of strength training effect during his endurance workouts.

    In conclusion: While someone like myself (I know this works for my stick legs) with weak legs will probably see endurance gains with increased basic strength (box step ups and downs, DL, Squat etc), those with adequate (how much….. I think that no one really knows) strength should focus on endurance training.

    The question becomes: What form should this endurance training take? Steep hikes with thousands of meters (tens of thousands of reps of BW) of vertical or hundreds of reps in a gym or outdoors with BW+ doing semi sport specific muscular endurance? Or some mix. That’s generally the direction we take people we coach.

    In your case I think you have hit on the conclusion I have just made: you need more endurance. The stair climb improvement bears this out. Here’s an idea: drop any low rep (under 15) weight lifting. Replace that with high rep (50-100) ME work if you do basic, non or semi sport specific movements with BW+ in a gym or outside. AND continue with a big vert unweighted or very light BW+ day and report back. Seems like you are headed in the right direction.

    This is a great example of how training must be best tailored to the INDIVIDUAL. We all bring different qualities to our training.

    Scott

    Keymaster
    Scott Semple on #6596

    A random idea: Is it possible that Thrusthamster’s powerlifting background has locally trained his legs to default to anaerobic metabolism rather than aerobic? Is it possible for bonking to happen on a local, muscular level without the typical global effects?

    Also, Thrusthamster, on the days where you have this leg fatigue, are you eating and drinking enough to support the session?

    Participant
    Thrusthamster on #6598

    I’ve modified our training after your suggestion this spring Scott J, so before I was doing about equal amounts of strength training and endurance training. Now I do 3 hours of strength training per week, and 10 hours of endurance training. With about 4-6 hours of climbing as well.

    I can’t squat 125 kg for 10 reps anymore because of an injury I had where I pretty much had to start from scratch after. But I’ve thought about the training I’ve done and I remember the easiest 1000m vertical day I ever had in the mountains was during the period where I got those PRs. But I got them because I was on a new powerlifting program where I did lots and lots of volume, 5 sets of 15 for many different exercises. So maybe high reps, high volume coupled with the endurance training would work? Could switch out lunges for box steps if my gym has a box.

    Scott S, it’s true that I often forget to eat enough in the mountains (last time I went 24 hours on a fistful of nuts, which even I knew was dumb). I never eat during training sessions, and try to do them fasted but that doesn’t always work out schedule-wise. Could be something there.

    Keymaster
    Scott Semple on #6599

    I would explore the fuel thing, comparing fasted sessions to non-. If you never get shaky legs on low intensity days with lots of food, then that is likely the issue, I think.

    Participant
    adamsc on #6601

    Thrust,

    I’ve had similar issues to you in the past. On a ski descent of Mt Washington, my legs were like noodles and I had to sit after like every 10 turns. On my climb of the N Ridge of Mt Baker, when I got back to camp and tried to sit on a log, I overshot it and just collapsed onto the ground. However, I can squat 2x BW and deadlift 2.5x so obviously my strength isn’t an issue. I’ve noticed (thus far in my annual training, haven’t done any big climbs since I was mostly doing walls last season) that focusing on uphill work like Scott stated, and ME workouts like Z3 hills or sprints, has proven to be a big bonus. Just last weekend I felt like a million bucks on some uphill weighted hiking with absolutely zero leg issues. The toughest part has been negating strength training because like you I have a powerlifting background and lifting heavy just makes me feel better. I’ve backed off lifting to 1/1.5h a week in my base period, focusing on hill work like water carries or sprints, and weighted stairmaster sessions. I have noticed zero strength declines and my legs are feeling better than ever on long events.

    Hope this helps! Definitely let me know if you find something that works great for you other than what I have stated, since I am in a similar boat.

    Keymaster
    Scott Johnston on #6663

    thrusty:

    Do aerobic training fasted, But on performance days fuel.

    Train on fat…..Race on carbs!

    Scott

    Participant
    porterherberthfddc on #39820

    In addition to enhancing leg training, I recommend use men compression socks for leg fatigue. I need to stand for a long time at work, so I use compression socks as work socks. Not only provide support for the calf and ankle, reduce swelling, but more importantly, prevent varicose veins. Prevention is necessary before pain begins.

    Participant
    dcgm on #40067

    Sorry for the necro bump, but super interesting thread here.

    Here’s an idea: drop any low rep (under 15) weight lifting. Replace that with high rep (50-100) ME work if you do basic, non or semi sport specific movements with BW+ in a gym or outside. AND continue with a big vert unweighted or very light BW+ day and report back.

    Would you do this even far out from the event/competitive season (during a “base phase”)? I ask because 50-100 rep ME work is pretty damn aerobically challenging, at least for me–I’d likely be in zone 3 for extended periods.

    I’ve backed off lifting to 1/1.5h a week in my base period, focusing on hill work like water carries or sprints, and weighted stairmaster sessions. I have noticed zero strength declines and my legs are feeling better than ever on long events.

    If you’re still around–so how exactly does this look? Do you still do traditional barbell lifts (just not very much and maybe at a fairly low RPE) in addition to the water carries/sprints/stairmaster? Are you keeping the water carries (etc) in zone 1/2?

    Also, for anyone who’s reading and has an opinion, you think this might be a solid strategy for more strength-intensive endurance activities? To be more specific, a lot of what I’m training for is hiking at least 35lb and fairly often 65-75lb loads straight up fall lines, so it’s not exactly a powerlifting meet but I can see that returns to traditional max strength work might diminish a good deal slower for this than for mountain running. On the other hand, it’s not THAT heavy, and maybe greater specificity would help (especially since a lot of my base work has historically been unloaded running on the flats or fairly modest inclines.). Interested to hear if the “tactical” department has any input on this.

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by dcgm.
    • This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by dcgm.
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