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Combined endurance & strength training, by Karoly Spy

Athletes often ask me to incorporate strength training into their training programs.
I am always a little reluctant among amateur athletes with little training time because the most important for improving endurance is the specific training volume which must remain stable.
✅An endurance program integrating 2 maximum strength training sessions / week lasting at least 8 weeks can have a positive effect on improving endurance performance (↗️ energy cost, ↗️ fraction of use of VO2max, ↗️ anaerobic potency indices).
⚠️ Do not forget that endurance training is the most important point to improve the performance of an endurance athlete (cyclist, triathlete, runner, skier…).
⚠️⚠️ A maximum strength session in bodybuilding should not replace an endurance session, it must come in addition.
➡️ For example: a cyclist who can only achieve 3 or 4 training sessions / week will have more benefits in terms of progress in maintaining his training volume on the bike than going to the weight room. Indeed, to have effects with bodybuilding it is necessary to carry out 2 sessions / week. In this case the cyclist would only have one or two sessions on the bike / week which is too little to generate specific metabolic adaptations.
✅If you have a lot of time to do strength training sessions without reducing your endurance training volume, then YES, working in maximum strength can help you take your progress to an additional level. 📈
⚠️ However, pay attention to the specifics in the choice of your bodybuilding exercises:
✅ Muscle action, muscles engaged and pattern of movement should be relatively similar to the discipline being practiced
Example by bike:
➡️ The main force produced during pedaling is obtained by concentric muscular actions during the descent phase of the pedal.
➡️ The maximum force during pedaling occurs when the crank arm reaches an angle of around 90 °, which usually corresponds to a knee angle of around 100 °.
➡️ It is therefore necessary to target strength training exercises with a knee angle between 90 ° and an almost complete extension of the knee.
⚠️ A maximum strength session cannot be done on the bike!
Unfortunately it has been shown that pedaling at a low cadence (≈40 rpm) with relatively high force has no effect on maximum leg strength capacity or on cycling performance.
➡️Example for a runner who will have to perform plyometric type exercises as a priority with attention paid to an increase in the eccentric load during the landing phase on the ground.
🏋🏻‍♀️If you still opt for bodybuilding, here are the recommendations for the sessions to be carried out:
➡️2 sessions / week outside the competition period
➡️2 to 3 sets
➡️Between 4 and 10 repetitions at maximum force (75 to 90% 1RM)
➡️2 to 3 'recovery between sets
➡️The exercises: half squat, half one leg squat, one leg press
⚠️During the competition period you must maintain 1 weight training session / week otherwise you will lose almost all your strength training adaptations.
This article was written by Karoly Spy, trainer specializing in endurance sports.
  • Founder of KS-Training in 2007 to support athletes in their performance project
  • Founder of the GUTAÏ Training application (2016-2021)
  • Coach trainer
  • Technical Advisor for the Franche Comté Triathlon League (2005-2007) and for the Provence Alpes de Triathlon League (2007-2012)
  • Coach in athletics club (Vitrolles, OM Athlé, SCO) and in Triathlon club

Find his website:

* Source: Schumann & Ronnestad (2019). Competitor Aerobic and Strength Training. Scientific Basics and Practical Applications uses cookies to provide the best user experience. Please accept cookies to continue exploring our site
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