Workout Tips

Can You Train for Both Strength and Endurance in the Same Program?

If you’ve got to combine workouts, proper recovery time is key to your performance.

Dmytro Aksonov / Getty

Getting stronger and building endurance are two very different goals that have long been considered conflicting, but is it actually unrealistic to work toward both with the same program? A recent study out of Australia’s James Cook University looked at how concurrent training, or endurance and resistance training done together, impacted development and performance. 

“Based on previous evidence, we suspect that if appropriate recovery is not accounted for between each training mode, it may impair endurance development,” said Kenji Doma, Ph.D., a professor at JCU’s College of Healthcare Sciences. In other words: make sure you've recovered from your run or your weight-training session before embarking on the other activity. What was less clear was exactly how much recovery time is really necessary between sessions.

Most people, according to Doma, can fully recover from endurance training, like running or cycling, in about 24 hours. When it comes to lifting, however, his research showed that the physiological stress caused by just 40 to 60 minutes of resistance training could last for several days. That's where the issue lies, because sore muscles can impair performance, especially when it comes to long runs.

While concurrent training is a great way to burn calories and fat, if your goals are more performance-focused—like entering a powerlifting competition or running a half marathon—then it may not be for you. That's because strength training and endurance training tax your bodies in very different ways and trying to be competitive at one or the other requires full focus. 

If you do plan on concurrent training, Doma recommends tackling endurance work first whenever possible. Your chance of recovery before your strength session is greater than if you complete the workouts in the opposite order. He also suggests having at least nine hours of rest between training sessions, which, for most of us who don’t train twice a day, isn’t an issue.  

So what’s the takeaway? If you’re trying to squat a house or run a marathon, then stay in your training lane. Otherwise, feel free to run and lift to your heart's content, as long as you give your body plenty of rest.

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