Integration of Endurance Resistance Training

by Developing Endurance
Kinetic Select May 2017

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When integrating resistance training, endurance athletes must ensure that the sessions or workouts are sequenced in the context of the overall workload. Giving careful thought to these factors when designing the training plan will increase the chances of success.

The following is an exclusive excerpt from the book Developing Endurance, published by Human Kinetics. All text and images provided by Human Kinetics.

As previously noted, an essential part of adding resistance training to an endurance athlete’s training plan is to successfully integrate the two types of training. Simply adding resistance training to an existing endurance training plan causes greater levels of fatigue and an overall increased workload. Endurance athletes in this situation often report more fatigue than normal and an inability to sustain the planned training volumes. Special care must be taken to modulate the training loads of both the resistance and endurance portions of the training plan in order to appropriately manage the accumulated fatigue.

The most important integration strategy is to reduce the amount of endurance training to accommodate the addition of resistance training. No consensus exists in the scientific literature about the exact amount of reduction required to accommodate the addition of resistance training. Studies reporting improved endurance performance from using a combination of endurance and resistance training reduced the amount of endurance training by 19 to 37 percent.

Determining the proper amount of reduction depends on the phase of training, the amount of resistance training included in the program, and the goals of the annual training plan. For example, during the general preparation phase, the endurance athlete should reduce the amount of endurance training by a greater percent (25 to 37 percent) because of the greater frequency and volume of resistance training. During the competitive phase, however, endurance training could be reduced at a lower percentage (19 to 25 percent) because of the lower workload (frequency and volume) of resistance training within this phase.

Regardless of the training phase, athletes and coaches must pay attention to total workload and the collective effects of both endurance and resistance training. They must consider how the two types of training are integrated. Though reducing the frequency of endurance training when adding resistance training seems to make sense, coaches and athletes often view this approach unfavorably. Endurance athletes often believe that they need frequent training sessions—usually 5 or 6 days per week.

The scientific literature seems to support the endurance athlete’s desire to maintain this level of frequency. When reducing endurance training loads before a competition (during a taper), the best approach is to decrease the volume and intensity of individual training sessions rather than decrease the frequency of training. Using this practice during a taper results in significantly higher performance levels. This approach also allows the athlete to reduce the overall workload of endurance training to accommodate the addition of resistance training.

Another important consideration for integration relates to the order of the endurance and resistance training (as discussed previously and highlighted in table 7.9 on page 151). When athletes complete resistance training in the morning and endurance training in the afternoon, a reasonable plan would be to complete an easier afternoon workout to accommodate the fatigue from the morning workout. This strategy would be necessary when targeting strength development and may be best suited for the general preparatory subphase. Switching the order of the workouts would negatively affect the resistance training workout. This sequencing may be best suited for the specific preparatory subphase or during portions of the competitive phase of the macrocycle.

Regardless of the order of the workouts, athletes and coaches must consider the effects of each training session when constructing a comprehensive training plan that includes both resistance and endurance training. Athletes should avoid performing high-volume, high-intensity resistance and endurance training on the same day. If the volume and intensity of the resistance training are high, the subsequent endurance session should be a low-volume, low-intensity recovery session. However, if the volume and intensity of the resistance training are low, the endurance session can be of a higher volume and intensity. When integrating resistance training, endurance athletes must ensure that the sessions or workouts are sequenced in the context of the overall workload. Giving careful thought to these factors when designing the training plan will increase the chances of success.

The popularity of endurance sports continues to grow worldwide. Now, from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, comes the definitive resource for developing the endurance training programs that maximize performance and minimize injuries. The book is available in bookstores everywhere, as well as online at the NSCA Store.

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