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Should Decathletes run 7 miles on Sunday morning just to improve their 1500m time?
Can you train both short-to-long and long-to-short at the same time?
Can you train for strength AND train for endurance, for example, the STREND event? (i.e. 5 weight events followed by a 5k/3 mile run?)
And don’t get me started on Crossfit!
Can you Train Strength and Endurance Concurrently?
The answer is, of course you can, but is it beneficial? Will it work? Is there an interference at the muscle fiber level? Or, more specifically, at the molecular level?
Time an time again, I hear this argument.
Here’s my take…
Take the 1st Law of Thermodynamics:
Energy cannot be created nor destroyed. You only have certain amounts of energy. I do weights after the running workouts and the weights are nowhere near my max. Weight Training and Olympic lifting is not my sport… I want to run fast.
But when I got injured, and stopped running, my weight numbers exploded! I could never bench 3 plates (i.e. 140kg or 315kbs) until I actually stopped running.
All the energy I was consuming was now going to the weight room.
Before I go into the discussion, we need to talk about Charlie Francis “vertical integration”. Many others have plagiarized this concept but basically it’s doing all components of training all the time.
We do speed, speed endurance/special endurance, aerobic conditioning (via tempo runs), weight training, Olympic lifts, plyos, med ball, core all year ‘round. In a given week, we cover them all.
By knowing how this works is important in setting up your annual plan and determine what exercises you need to do for muscle adaptation.
Concurrent Strength and Endurance Training
There is a great read titled Concurrent Strength and Endurance Training: From Molecules to Man by Gustavo Nader. (PDF click here)
Basically it says to avoid combining hypertrophy strength training (i.e. 10+ reps) with high intensity endurance training. That’s mainly where you’ll see an interference effect. Low intensity endurance combined with hypertrophy strength training (10+ reps) is acceptable. As well, you can combine max strength training (5 reps or less) with high intensity endurance.
Why is this?
Without going into biochemistry and physiology in detail, hypertrophy training and high intensity endurance training both stimulate peripheral adaptation. That’s interference.
Also, high-intensity endurance training increases capillary density as well as the mitochondria density… which are reduced in hypertrophy training. Again, that’s interference.
This is why I am surprised when I see baseball players train (this is February… Spring Training!). A lot of them, especially pitchers, do a lot of cardiovascular endurance training when the sport is clearly power and speed. Baseball players should be doing more plyometric, explosive weight training and short intervals on the track.
I’m not saying baseball players should NOT do cardio, but watch the intensity.
To close out this discussion, it really all boils down to 2 factors when designing a training program for any sport:
Volume x Intensity