How To Do Concurrent Training

Is concurrent training beneficial or detrimental for runners, cyclists, OCR, and other endurance athletes?

Is concurrent training beneficial or detrimental for runners, cyclists, OCR, and other endurance athletes? EndurElite Chief Endurance Officer Matt Matt has your research backed answer.

Concurrent Training For Endurance Athletes: Take Home Points

  • Research on concurrent training in endurance athletes has mostly been conducted on the general population.
  • Furthermore, the results of these studies have not provided a clear answer if concurrent training is beneficial or detrimental to endurance capacity.
  • A recent meta-analysis examined the effects of concurrent training on elite level endurance athletes.
  • The scientists discovered that concurrent training improved both short-term (less than 15 minutes) and long-term (over 30 minutes) endurance performance.
  • Improvements were due to increases in the number of type IIA muscle fibers, gains in maximal muscle strength, greater rates of force development, and enhancements in neuro-muscular function.
  • The vast majority of these improvements were seen in the endurance athletes who followed a strength training program that emphasized heavy weight and high volume.

Full Video Transcription:

Good morning, family of fast. Matt Mossman, the Chief Endurance Officer over at EndurElite. When I started running way back as a youngling, I was always told that if you want to become an exceptional runner, all you need to do is just run. Any time you have, just spend it running. Don't do any cross-training, don't do any strength training, don't do any other activity that can take away from your time running, because your time is best spent practicing the thing you want to be exceptional at.

What Is Concurrent Training & Why Endurance Athletes Should Care About It

Now, as science has evolved and I have evolved as a person, we all know the importance of cross-training, doing other activities, whether it's for recovery or getting better at your certain activity, and especially with strength training. Now in previous videos, we've talked about combining endurance activity and strength training, this is called concurrent training, and the benefits it can provide to your endurance capacity. But most of these studies have been done in less than trained individuals, should we put it in a certain way, so individuals that maybe don't have a high VO2 max or a lot of training experience, etc., etc., etc.

What Does The Research Say About Concurrent Training And Endurance Performance

And beyond that, in these studies, the research has shown that concurrent training has decreased endurance performance, had no effect, or improved it. So, what's a guy to think? Does combining endurance and strength training lead to a greater endurance capacity, not only in untrained populations, but what about moderately trained and highly trained populations, like elite athletes? And that's what we're going to talk about today.

What About Concurrent Training In Elite Athletes

There's a study published back in 2010 that examined this, because rarely has any study been done examining the effects of concurrent training on these kind of upper tiers of athletes. So we're gonna look at a meta-analysis that was done in the Scandinavian Sports Science Journal, and it's titled "The Effects of strength training on endurance capacity in top-level endurance athletes."

Now, these athletes had a VO2 max of over 60, they trained more than six times a week, did work out. So, what you'd expect, kind of the elite to top-level athletes to be doing as compared to like the general population. And this meta-analysis basically examined the effects of strength training on short-term endurance capacity, under 15 minutes, and on long-term endurance capacity, over 30 minutes. So they compiled a list of I'd say about 50 studies together and they looked at all these different improvements.

And what they found at the end of the study, when they crunched a massive amount of data, is that strength training does indeed improve short-term and long-term endurance capacity. And here is why, in the researchers' exact words. They said, "It is concluded that strength training can lead to enhanced long-term and short-term endurance capacity in well-trained individuals and highly trained top-level endurance athletes, especially with the use of high-volume, heavy resistance strength training protocols."

Endurance Athletes Training Concurrently Should Use Heavy Loads When Strength Training

So this is an important point to make. As endurance athletes, we're always told we should do light weight, a lot of reps, to improve endurance performance. And, you know, it helps a little bit, but you're much better off doing heavy exercise, like squatting, deadlifting, bench pressing. Heavy, like you can get like three to eight reps.

Why Concurrent Training Is Beneficial To Runners, Cyclists, And Other Endurance Athletes

So, heavy loads, high volume, five to six sec. And this is important, and here's why. The enhancement and endurance capacity appears to involve training-induced increases in the proportion of type IIA muscle fibers, so this heavy resistance training basically creates more type IIA muscle fibers, which type IIA muscle fibers, you can think as a good hybrid combination of both kind of slow twitch and fast twitch fibers.

So it's the best of both worlds. You kind of get that oxidative aerobic capabilities of the slow twitch fiber, and that kind of high explosive power producing of the type II fibers. So, "...appears to be involve training-induced increases in the proportion of type IIA muscle fibers as well as the gains in maximal strength and rapid force characteristics, or rate of force development," like how quickly you can put power down at, whether it's a footstep or mashing on your bike pedals, just that explosive movement that's created from involving weight training in your training schedule.

And then lastly, it also involved enhancements in neuromuscular function, or basically how efficiently your muscles are contracting, how quickly. And this could lead to things like improved running economy, or improved cycling economy, and things of that nature. So really, this meta-analysis has demonstrated that yeah, as an endurance athlete, you shouldn't only just be running, you should be strength training too, for a myriad of reasons we've discussed in other videos before.

But this meta-analysis just again further demonstrates the importance of strength training in a well-rounded endurance training regimen. Now, what you want to do is at least strength train two times a week. You will get some adaptations for this. And you never want to go more than I would say 72 hours between weight training sessions. Otherwise, you can kind of see a decrease in those adaptations.

And again, the majority of the research here with this meta-analysis showed that you should be lifting heavy, not light. Now, if you have no weight training experience, definitely start out light and build your way up. Get with a good qualified personal trainer, but eventually evolve to more higher volume, higher weight strength training program to get these benefits of improving endurance capacity through strength or concurrent training.

So, that was a big mouthful. I'm gonna cut it short right there. If you have a buddy who has doubts about strength training and combining it with his endurance training, please share this video with them. If you want other videos like this on endurance training, nutrition, supplementation, my other random musings, and busting the BS, subscribe to the EndurElite YouTube channel, or head on over to the EndurElite blog at Get social with us on Instagram and our family of fast Facebook group. And until next time, my EndurElite friends, stay fueled, stay focused, stay fast, and stay informed.