Posts Tagged ‘Concurrent training’

Evidence leads to the conclusion that Strength Training helps endurance athletes (click here). Aside from enhancing the efficiency of movement, it also contributes in lowering the incidence of injuries. But does endurance training help improve performance of strength and power athletes? The answer is not so simple but it goes back again to the athlete’s main goal. If the main goal is to improve overall performance, training that also also improves a type of  endurance may help. But if the goal is to increase maximal strength, long slow duration endurance training will not help. The answer is not a simple yes or no because training to improve endurance- Cardiorespiratory and local muscular endurance, can be done as a long duration- low intensity training, and/or high intensity interval training. Long duration- low intensity training does not help in improving maximal strength but high intensity interval training may indirectly have a positive effect on improving maximal strength especially if repeated bouts of near maximal to maximal effort is required. However, most athletes may not necessarily need to exert near maximal to maximal effort in a single movement. Their sport may require explosive power but the load may not be maximal. The sports where maximum load is attempted are Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting, and since the load is maximal, it is lifted once for three attempts with rest in between. While jumping, throwing, punching,  sprinting, and the like all require explosive movements and need to be repeated many for the duration of the game. But there may be no rest or short rest in between repetitions and the load is submaximal. It is in these sports wherein high intensity interval training is very useful. That is still in addition to a very good strength foundation.


To determine if endurance training helps in the performance of athletes who rely on power and speed, an investigation was designed and completed to evaluate the compatibility of cardiovascular endurance and neuromuscular power training. Baseball players were used for this study since they rely on mostly power and speed. They were divided into two training groups with lower body power measured before and after their playing season. The Endurance Group performed moderate- to high-intensity cardiovascular endurance training 3-4 days per week throughout the season, while the Speed Group participated in speed/speed endurance training. There was a significant difference in lower body power between the two groups during their playing season. Power output of the endurance group decreased by an average of 39 watts while the speed group’s power improved by an average of 210 watts. This leads to a conclusion that athletes who rely on speed and power, like baseball players, basketball, volleyball, and the like, should rely more on speed or power interval training for their conditioning.1 The difference in numbers is quite obvious. This may translate into an athlete able to sprint faster or jump higher which increases their chances to scoring higher and ultimately winning over their slower opponents.


However, the beneficial effects of endurance training cannot be overlooked as well. It elicits favorable muscle adaptations such as enhanced blood supply, energy use, and fuel storage capacities.2 A good aerobic capacity also helps anaerobic performance by aiding in eliminating anaerobic metabolism by-products. Higher levels of aerobic power help to delay the onset of fatigue which reduces injury potential as well as errors in movement and in making decisions in a game.3


If maximizing the efficiency of the anaerobic system is the goal, then it means the ability to recover in between bouts or sets of exercise, or between plays in a game, should be maximized.

For the top athletes of Weightlifting and Powerlifting, their ability to recover in between sets of near maximal to maximal lifts is so much higher than a beginner or an athlete who is into other sports. This is a manifestation of the Principle of Specificity of training. Another factor is that top athletes of these sports are most likely born with muscle fiber types, limb length, psychological attributes, and other traits that would give them an advantage over other athletes. Well thought of training programs further enhances these attributes and the ultimate manifestation would be best performances by the athlete. We can analyse it like this: fitness components are like rooms and the body is the building. The floor area of a building is limited- so much like the genetic ceiling of each individual is finite. The sizes of the rooms would depend on what room we want to emphasize. A building designed for a house would have bedrooms, kitchen, toilet and bath, living room, and those who have a bigger building can afford to have study and entertainment rooms. A person who has more genetic endowments and is much more motivated to train has more potential – more “rooms”. If that building will be redesigned as a restaurant, then the bedrooms would be eliminated to make way for a bigger kitchen, and a big dining area- the rooms which make up a restaurant. An untrained individual is like a building with the rooms not yet laid out. Modifying the layout of a building with its limited floor area is similar to training an athlete for a particular sport. It enhances the fitness components required for that sport. To enhance one aspect, other aspects may have to be sacrificed- and those are the aspects which are at the opposite end of the desired spectrum. So training for an predominantly aerobic endurance sport lessens the potential “floor area” for manifesting the maximum strength within that athlete’s genetic potential. But it should be understood that this is more important in the sports at the extreme ends of the explosive power – aerobic endurance spectrum.


For the general population however, it may be possible to enhance both maximum strength and aerobic capacity since their level of development is low to start with. But once their genetic potential is being realized, like in athletes, making gains in strength and aerobic capacity would become harder. Both strength and aerobic capacity will be competing for resources within the human body needed for recovery. Training for these components taxes the body. Both are stressors that the body has to recover from in order to improve.


Since strength/power and endurance are at the opposite ends of a spectrum, maximizing strength may mean sacrificing some aerobic capacity- the type which is used for sustained effort with low intensity- such as long distance running. If the goal is to increase strength and power, what needs to be emphasized is the type of training which enhances ability to recover between bouts of very short but very high intensity effort. Time required for long slow duration training is long. Not only does it compete for recovery, it also competes for training time. So a better way to support an athlete’s ability to recover between bursts of powerful movements is to incorporate high intensity interval training rather than long slow duration aerobic training. Train with short bursts of cyclic movements like sprints with very short recovery periods- shorter than that required for full recovery of the atp-pc & glycolytic system. This is a better way of supporting maximal strength development rather than using low intensity- long duration activities. Train Better, Live Better!


  1. Non-compatibility of Power and Endurance Training Among College Baseball Players. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. January 2008 – Volume 22 – Issue 1 – pp 230-234
  2. Is Long Duration Aerobic Exercise Necessary for Anaerobic Athletes? Strength & Conditioning Journal. April 2013 – Volume 35 – Issue 2 – p 44–46
  3. Quantification of the Aerobic Component in Strength/Conditioning Programs. Schmidt, Richard J. National Strength Coaches Association Journal. April 1981 – Volume 3 – Issue 2 – ppg 40-41

Endurance Athletes perform their sporting activities under sustained effort. Classic examples are long distance runners, swimmers, cyclists, and yes, a combination- the triathlon athletes. This topic pertains to these classic examples of endurance athletes. The common factor among these athletes aside from their very high level of cardiorespiratory fitness is that their events are closed skill and repetitive in nature. If their movements are more efficient, lesser effort is required to IMG_20130904_074128cover a particular distance and the successful athletes are able to cover certain distance in the shortest possible time. Moving the body (example- running) through the required distance, is work as defined by physics. Since power is equal to work divided by time, the fastest athlete in the race is the most powerful athlete. Here is when Strength Training enters the scene. It enables  the athletes’ strides to be a bit more powerful. If each stride is a fraction of a second faster and covers a few more centimeters, imagine the accumulated effect of thousands of strides in an endurance race. It would be ultimately be an improvement of their personal best. Strength trained endurance athletes would also be able to power through near the end and sprint to the finish. Strength and Power Training is now gaining reputation as a strategy to improve endurance performance.

Concurrent Training:


This is simultaneous endurance and strength training in a training period but not necessarily in a training session. Studies show that concurrent endurance and strength training improves  cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory fitness. A study conducted in 2008 let subjects perform Concurrent Exercises. The effects showed reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure , and more importantly increased VO2max. 1


The benefit of having concurrent training is having both the benefit of gaining strength and also of cardiorespiratory and local muscular endurance. But since these qualities are on opposite ends of the fitness spectrum, the trainee would not get the best of both worlds if there is no emphasis on one aspect. The trainee will be more rounded- will have some amount of strength and also some endurance. The goal will guide the coach and trainee on what to emphasize more- is it endurance or strength? For endurance athletes- the emphasis should be on endurance training. Strength training will be supplemental training but should not take up a big bulk of the training volume.


There was a systematic review of scientific literature on the effects of resistance training on endurance distance running performance among highly trained runners on 2008. This was done since there is a perception among highly competitive endurance runners that concurrent resistance and endurance training will improve running performance. But there are still those who would not want to try Strength Training for endurance athletes since endurance athletes traditionally did not train for strength. But after analysing several studies, the researchers concluded that resistance training likely has a positive effect on endurance running performance.2

A Guideline for Concurrent Training:


There was a recent study which aimed to determine whether the duration (0h, 6h or 24h) of recovery between strength and aerobic training influences the effects of a concurrent training program. Athletes were randomly assigned to either control (CONT), concurrent training (C-0h, C-6h or C-24h) or strength training (STR) groups during a 7-week training period. Two sessions of each quality were proposed each week with strength always performed before aerobic training. Measurements were performed before and immediately after the overall training period. Cardiorespiratory benefits were greatest in C-24h. Gains in maximal strength were lowest in C-0h.The study emphasized that the interference on strength development depends on the recovery delay between the two sequences. Daily training without a recovery period between sessions (C-0h) and, to a lesser extent, training twice a day (C-6h), is not optimal for neuromuscular and aerobic improvements. Therefore avoid scheduling both strength training and endurance training, with less than 6-hours recovery between them to obtain full adaptative responses to concurrent training.3


Using the results of the study as basis, it is better to have at least one day of recovery between your endurance training and your strength training if gains in strength is the objective. Results would be noticeable if the duration of concurrent training is around 2 months with 4 training sessions a week – two of endurance and two of strength in alternating basis. Take note that this was done on athletes who have undergone training. Weekend warriors may try lower volume and/ or lower intensity depending on their capability. One of the determining factor is the ability to recover. Even if the study says 25 hours recovery works, if the individual cannot recover well within 24 hours, then extend the recovery time and lower the intensity for the next training session until the body is able to speed up its recovery.

What Exercise would be best for Endurance athletes like runners and cyclists?


The Squat is one of the main exercises, if not the main exercise, that would be very beneficial to runners, cyclists, swimmers- both  for sprints and long distance. Most endurance athletes are either overtrained or almost overtrained thus it is important to control the volume of strength training so as not to add extra stress to the body’s ability to recover. This can be done by limiting the number of exercises to the most beneficial one. It can be just the squat and it will work as long as done properly with the optimum load, volume and intensity.


There was a study conducted to investigate the effect of maximal strength training on cycling economy.  The intervention Trek-Road-Bikes-005group performed half-squats, 4 sets of 4 repetitions maximum, 3 times per week for 8 weeks, as a supplement to their normal endurance training. The control group continued their normal endurance training during the same period. The intervention manifested significant improvements in measures of maximal strength, cycling economy, work efficiency, and time to exhaustion at pre-intervention maximal aerobic power. No changes were found in V̇o2max or body weight. In conclusion, maximal strength training for 8 weeks improved Cycling Economy and efficiency and increased time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic power among competitive road cyclists, without change in maximal oxygen uptake, cadence, or body weight..4

Other Benefits of Squatting for Distance Runners:

full squat valstrengthtraining

Gorsuch, and his colleagues analyzed the effect of squat depth on multiarticular muscle activation in collegiate cross-country runners. They conducted a study which measured muscle activity with surface electromyography (EMG) during partial and parallel squats in collegiate cross-country runners (10 males and 10 females) in a randomized crossover design. They found out that there was no difference between male and female runners when it comes to muscle activation. This means that both males and females benefit from doing squats. They also found out that there is more muscle activity in the parallel squat than in the partial squat. This means that when we do the squat, it is best to do it parallel or even lower to take advantage of the available range of motion as well as the increased muscle activation. The researchers concluded that parallel squats may help runners to train muscles vital for uphill running and correct posture, while preventing injury by using lighter weights through a larger range of motion.


Click here to read more about squats.

Click here to read about squats outdoors without gym equipment.

Click here for prehab and advanced rehab of ankle sprains.

Example of a concurrent training program for endurance athletes:

This is just an example based on the studies and on practical training considerations for an endurance athlete who has access to a weights room. This is a 6 week training program 8 weeks before a race.

Concurrent training

This is a sample template. It should be modified according to the athlete’s goal and fitness level as well as time availability.



1. Concurrent Training Enhances Athlete’s Cardiovascular and Cardiorespiratory Measures. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research September 2008. 1503-1514

2. The Effects of Resistance Training on Endurance Distance Running Performance Among Highly Trained Runners: A Systematic Review.Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.November 2008 – Volume 22 – Issue 6 – pp 2036-2044

3. The specific training effects of concurrent aerobic and strength exercises depends on recovery duration. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2014)

4. Maximal Strength Training Improves Cycling Economy in Competitive Cyclists. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. August 2010 Vol 24. 2157-2165

5. The Effect of Squat Depth on Multiarticular Muscle Activation in Collegiate Cross-Country Runners. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. September 2013 – Volume 27 – Issue 9 – p 2619–262

Running is a very good activity. It requires minimum equipment and gives a lot of health benefits. The running community should be growing and it is good news for the shoe companies and race organizers. There are many events too, from fun runs to trail running to ultramarathons. You also get a lot of crazy events like zombie runs, sky running, and guess what – underwater running! I even heard of a story of a guy who runs 20 kilometers to work and back. And then he deliberately moved his residence much further from his office so he could run more. Hmmnnn… he must be running away from something.


ultra runSo how do you improve your running ability? First is you have to run. Running is the best exercise for running. But there are some aspects in running which can be improved by strength training. These would be the uphills, downhills, sprints, and any situation where the runner needs to speed up or to produce and absorb forces quickly like in a sudden change of direction to avoid falling off the trail in a trail run. Strength training increases muscle power output. According to the work of McBride, et. al, muscle power is most important in running events of shorter distances (60 to 200 meters), but there is also a significant correlation between muscle power between middle and long distance running (800 to 5,000 meters). In the athletic population, Strength Coaches work with sprinters since their sport requires very powerful movements. But it has also been observed that Strength training benefits the endurance runners. Davis, et. al, studied the effects of concurrent training (meaning Aerobic training and Strength training done together) on 30 women and 20 men. They concluded that, for endurance adaptations in athletes, strength and endurance training can be done concurrently and will have a positive effect. Another research by Esteve-Lanao and his friends led to the conclusion that strength training minimizes the loss of stride length that typically occurs in endurance runners. Strength training maintains running mechanics aside from improving power (speed). There are other areas like your nutritional intake, hydration, and timing of meals but that is for my friend, a Nutritionist – Dietician, to write about.


So there you have it runners, you basically have to run if you want to improve running. If you reached a certain level of mng jasrunning competency, a good strength training program can help you improve your running performance by improving your power output and by minimizing the effects of fatigue on your running mechanics. And another important thing which is usually overlooked when it comes to strength training is its injury prevention or mitigating aspect. An advice to those who plan to do back to back concurrent training: it is better to do your strength training first before you run. That way, your energy system works more efficiently. The chances of straining yourself is also lesser. There was a time when I would run around 6km to the office (which is a gym), then do my strength training before I start work. It was working well for a few weeks. Then one day it became very humid. I must have been dehydrated after the run but I proceeded with my strength training as usual. But due to my carelessness, I strained my back. When I analyzed what went wrong, it must have been a combination of a lot of factors like dehydration, poor technique due to fatigue, over – overloading, and basically bad judgement. I learned from that and came out wiser.


If you plan to do trail running, or any distance running, a good preparation with strength training can make the running experience more enjoyable. A runner gave me a tip when I was competing in our University Sports Day running event and it really works: “You want to run faster and better? Run fast!”




  • Relationship Between Jumping Ability and Running Performance in Events of Varying Distance. Hudgins, et. al. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research March 2013
  • Running – Specific, Periodized Strength Training Attenuates Loss of Stride Length During Intense Endurance Running. Esteve-Lanao, et. al. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, July 2008
  • Concurrent Training Enhances Athletes’ Cardiovascular and Cardiorespiratory Measures. Davis, W Jackson, Wood, Daniel T; Andrews, Ryan G, Elkind, Les M, Davis, W Bart, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Sept. 2008