Bigger than Biceps: The truth behind endurance and strength training


Year-round athletes, military, and public safety personnel all have something in common, they have to ready to act instantly and be strong and fast. Is it possible to lift your heaviest weight, but also run your fastest mile?

This is known as resistance and endurance training (RT and ET), and while some think they practice both, it may not be to their best ability. Some think only lifting weights will make you bulky and decrease stamina and others think they'll lose muscle mass if they focus on endurance. The combination of the styles of training is considered "concurrent training."

If your main form of endurance training is running, and you also train legs, then your lower body will become stronger than your upper due to how often it's worked. There's not a definite answer to the proposed question, but there are several theories and studies to imply justifications.

Athletes with a quicker recovery period will have a greater intensity level during their strength training workouts because of their accustomed duration of exercises, according to Recovery is a huge factor in the ability to better strength and endurance. If you're heavily lifting weights daily, as well as training your aerobic system, there's a greater chance you'll overtrain and surpass recovery capabilities. Your muscles won't have chance to catch up. During recovery is when muscles are repaired from being broken down and have the opportunity to build. At that rate, they're constantly being worked and maintained.

Energy availability is another factory. When you eat carbohydrates, fats and proteins, they are broken down into substrates before they can be used as energy. This is called ATP, or adenosine triphosphate. ATP is broken up when needed for energy and replaced with ADP, or adenosine diphosphate. Until ADP is built back up into ATP through three systems—glycolysis, kreb's cycle or the cytochrome system—failure, or fatigue kicks in (I told you I'm studying NASM). This occurs when you lift weights eight to 10 times and can't lift anymore after the last few repetitions.

With that being said, energy systems vary from endurance to resistance training. It's not to say you can't train both, but depending on various factors, you may or may not show improvement. A negative side effect is that it'll "inhibit the amount of muscle and power gains more than isolated training would," writer Shannon Clark explained. But, if one takes measures to recover properly, the negative side effects can be reduced.

My advice, as always, feel things out, whatever feels right will work for you and until you hit a plateau, then change up your routine.

—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.


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