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7 Keys to Combining Strength and Resistance Training

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Many people combine strength and endurance training to improve these abilities and their performance, and many sports require this combination. The inclusion of strength training (to gain strength and/or hypertrophy ) combined with resistance training in a single program is known as concurrent training.

Numerous scientific studies have detected that the simultaneous development of muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance capabilities can lead to interference in adaptations , especially strength adaptations, so it is necessary to consider and apply strategies that allow minimizing the effects of concurrent strength and endurance training.

The strategies that I will explain in this post are taken from scientific articles, which you can read here and here.

The interference phenomenon.

We speak of an interference phenomenon when strength and resistance are worked together. This interference will be greater or less depending on the design (exercises used, volume, intensity, etc.), temporal duration and type of subjects ( sedentary vs. athletes ).

When we apply a training stimulus, either resistance or strength, a series of changes and adaptive responses will occur in the body , which in the case of concurrent training of both capacities can become opposite.

That is, because strength and endurance training produces different, and often even opposing, adaptive mechanisms, the concurrent development of both capabilities within the same training regimen can trigger a conflict of adaptations .

Mechanisms that can produce interference.

In the simultaneous development of muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance capabilities , numerous studies in the scientific literature have detected interferences in the adaptations of muscular strength and power. Among the interference mechanisms of so-called concurrent training, the following stand out:

  • Residual fatigue buildup produced by previous training on the neuromuscular system.
  • Depletion of muscle glycogen stores .
  • Transformations in muscle fiber types from IIb to IIa and from IIa to I.
  • Overtraining produced by imbalances between training and recovery processes.
  • Inhibition of protein synthesis after resistance training, with a consequent decrease in the cross section of muscle fibers and a reduction in the muscle’s ability to generate tension .
  • Chronic hypothesis: muscle tissues cannot adapt metabolically and morphologically to strength and resistance training simultaneously.
  • Acute hypothesis: an increase in residual fatigue favored by resistance training and prolonged over time affects the muscle’s tension capacity . Therefore, the longer the concurrent strength and endurance training lasts, the more affected the strength work will be.

Possible positive adaptations with concurrent training.

On the contrary, various investigations have also shown that simultaneous or concurrent strength and resistance training produces positive adaptations in sedentary subjects or with little training experience.

In cyclical and team disciplines (for example: canoeing , rowing or rugby ), it has also been shown that concurrent training can be beneficial in improving specific performance.

Some of the mechanisms that seem to be responsible for these benefits of concurrent training for specific performance would be:

  • increasing strength , which appears to improve mechanical efficiency, muscle coordination, and motor recruitment patterns.
  • The overall increase in strength can facilitate changes and corrections in the technical model of competition.
  • The increase in muscular strength and coordination can reduce the relative intensity that each cycle of effort entails for the athlete and, therefore, be more resistant over time.

So it can be said, the discrepancies observed in studies that have examined the interference phenomenon of concurrent training in sedentary young people or in trained athletes are possibly related, as we have previously commented, to the initial level of performance of the subjects, the types of exercises used, the volume, intensity and frequency of training and the distribution of sessions , among other aspects.

Taking all this into account, it is necessary to consider and apply strategies that minimize the effects of concurrent strength and resistance training.

7 Keys to Combining Strength and Resistance Training.

1. Training periodization.

An adequate periodization of training, with a high concentration of load directed at a reduced number of objectives per training phase, will allow positive adaptations to be produced and interference effects to be minimized.

7 Keys to Combining Strength and Resistance Training

That is, let’s not try to work and improve everything at once (hypertrophy, high-intensity resistance work, training more focused on improving strength, low-intensity resistance, etc.).

Let’s set a few objectives per phase and work to achieve them (I will explain the best and worst combinations of strength and resistance in later points).

2. Don’t reach muscle failure.

Avoiding reaching muscle failure in strength training will reduce part of the metabolic and hormonal stress that such training entails and will facilitate a better and faster recovery , in addition to not further improving your strength and muscle mass gains by reaching muscle failure. (more than proven).

3. Keep your strength and resistance training aimed at the same muscle groups apart.

Spacing strength and resistance training sessions aimed at the same muscle groups will facilitate recovery and improve adaptation to training stimuli.

For example, it is better to do leg strength training and running (resistance) training on separate days and if this is not possible, distance the sessions as much as possible (we will see the best order in the following points).

4. Resistance in the morning and strength in the afternoon as the best option.

Any high-intensity resistance training session should be done early in the day. A recovery period of at least three hours should then be administered , so that the activity of important enzymes related to endurance and its improvements ( AMPK and SIRT1) can return to basal levels, before performing resistance exercise.

This suggestion is based on the fact that the activity of an important enzyme related to improving endurance, such as AMPK, increases rapidly and then returns to basal levels within the first three hours after high-intensity exercise. , while the activity of a complex protein that controls protein synthesis, such as mTORC1, can be maintained for at least 18 hours after resistance exercise.

Therefore, the most practical approach to combining resistance and strength training within the same day is probably a resistance session in the morning , followed by strength training in the afternoon.

5. Muscular hypertrophy and high intensity resistance, bad combination.

The combination of strength training aimed at muscle hypertrophy with high intensity resistance training seems to be inadvisable as it generates a high degree of interference .

This is because the development of both capacities produces totally opposite peripheral adaptations and prevents the organism from optimal and simultaneous development of both components of performance.

That is, among the peripheral adaptations to strength training aimed at muscle hypertrophy, the most notable are the increase in the synthesis of contractile proteins, which leads to an increase in the size of the fiber and the cross section of the muscle, as well as an increase in glycolytic enzymes. , in addition to a reduction in capillary and mitochondrial density and considerable metabolic and hormonal stress at the cellular level.

On the contrary, high-intensity resistance training (intensities close to VO2max ) primarily produces adaptations at the peripheral level, but in this case these adaptations are the increase in muscle glycogen reserves , the increase in capillary and mitochondrial density and the increase in oxidative enzymes.

6. Muscle hypertrophy and moderate intensity resistance, a better option.

The concurrent development of moderate intensity resistance training and strength training via muscular hypertrophy has in this case a lower degree of interference since adaptations opposed to training do not occur , as if they do occur, as we have seen in the previous point, with high intensity hypertrophy and resistance training.

7. Strength training immediately after a low-intensity resistance session (for greater resistance adaptation).

To enhance the resistance response to low-intensity resistance training sessions and provide a strong strength stimulus we may consider performing strength training immediately after low-intensity , non- strenuous resistance sessions . And I repeat, not exhausting.

Dumbbell routine for back and arms

Performing a strength session immediately after a low-intensity resistance session results in a greater stimulus for resistance adaptation than the low-intensity resistance session alone, and the low-intensity session will not affect the signaling pathways that regulate strength gains .

These are some of the important strategies that we should consider if we are one of the people who do both strength and resistance training. It is a topic that continues to be studied so I am sure that in the future more strategies will emerge that will help us even more.

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This article contains scientific references. The numbers in the parentheses (1,2,3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific researches.

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