Optimizing strength training for running and cycling endurance performance: A review


  • B. R. Rønnestad,

    Corresponding author
    1. Section for Sport Science, Lillehammer University College, Lillehammer, Norway
    • Corresponding author: Bent R. Rønnestad, PhD, Section for Sport Science, Lillehammer University College, PB. 952, 2604 Lillehammer, Norway. Tel: +47 61288193, Fax: +47 61288200, E-mail: bent.ronnestad@hil.no

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  • I. Mujika

    1. Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Odontology, University of the Basque Country, Leioa, Basque Country, Spain
    2. School of Kinesiology and Health Research Center, Faculty of Medicine, Finis Terrae University, Santiago, Chile
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Here we report on the effect of combining endurance training with heavy or explosive strength training on endurance performance in endurance-trained runners and cyclists. Running economy is improved by performing combined endurance training with either heavy or explosive strength training. However, heavy strength training is recommended for improving cycling economy. Equivocal findings exist regarding the effects on power output or velocity at the lactate threshold. Concurrent endurance and heavy strength training can increase running speed and power output at VO2max (Vmax and Wmax, respectively) or time to exhaustion at Vmax and Wmax. Combining endurance training with either explosive or heavy strength training can improve running performance, while there is most compelling evidence of an additive effect on cycling performance when heavy strength training is used. It is suggested that the improved endurance performance may relate to delayed activation of less efficient type II fibers, improved neuromuscular efficiency, conversion of fast-twitch type IIX fibers into more fatigue-resistant type IIA fibers, or improved musculo-tendinous stiffness.