Maximizing the benefits of strength training for endurance athletes

Whilst it’s clear that strength training provides a great benefit to endurance athletes, it can be difficult to incorporate strength training into an endurance training program without causing some disruption to the existing program. This disruption can be minimised, to an extent, by ensuring you perform strength training a couple of days before interval training, so that it doesn’t negatively affect the interval training. In addition it is well known that endurance training can limit the effectiveness of strength training by inhibiting the potential gains in both muscle mass and strength. A recent review article, looked at the molecular mechanisms that appear to cause this affect and proposed strategies to maximize the potential strength gains and endurance adaptations from concurrent strength and endurance training (Baar, 2014).

The review made four recommendations aimed at maximizing the benefits of concurrent strength and endurance training. The aim of the recommendations was to maximize the endurance training effect, by maximizing mitochondrial adaptation, whilst at the same time maximizing strength and potential muscle mass gains. The four recommendations were:

  1. If performing resistance training on the same day as high intensity training you should perform the high intensity training early in the day and leave a gap of at least 3hours before performing resistance training.
  2. You should consume easily digestible leucine rich protein sources as soon after training as possible in order to maximise leucine uptake. On days when resistance training is performed later in the day it also becomes more important to consume protein immediately prior to sleep.
  3. Ensure you fully refuel between the morning high intensity training session and afternoon strength training session.
  4. Consider performing strength training immediately after a low intensity, non-depleting (i.e. not long duration), endurance training session. As well as providing a strong strength training benefit, this will result in a much greater stimulus for endurance training adaptation than the low intensity training on its own. Importantly the low intensity training session should not affect the strength gains from the strength training session.



Keith Baar (2014) Using Molecular Biology to Maximize Concurrent Training. Sports Med. 2014; 44(Suppl 2): 117–125. Published online Oct 30, 2014. doi:  10.1007/s40279-014-0252-0

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