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Can Strength Training Improve Endurance and Cardio Improve Strength and Power?

Can strength training improve performance in endurance sports? Can cardio improve performance in strength and power sports?

The answer is YES to both...if done the right way. Endurance activities and power/strength activities are at different ends of the spectrum, so it is commonly believed that cardio will make you slow and weak and strength training will make you make you bulky and unable to last as long. This can be true if taken to extremes in training. A football player doesn’t need to run marathons and a cross country runner doesn’t need to compete in power lifting. BUT each athlete can benefit greatly from training at the other end of the spectrum.

Here are some ways strength training can help endurance performance and cardio can help strength/power performance.

Strength Training For Endurance Sports:

✔️It’s easier to last longer at a lower percentage of your absolute strength. By getting stronger, you are able last longer at a higher output...aka run longer and faster. What used to feel like a 100% effort can now feel like a 75% effort.

✔️Muscle strength is often the limiting factor for good endurance athletes. They are usually more tired in their legs than they are out of breath at the end of a race.

✔️Proper strength training is great for teaching proper biomechanics and getting the correct muscles to fire in the right sequence. Poor biomechanics can lead to lots of wasted energy in endurance sports. Improving biomechanics in the gym can lead to improved efficiency in competition.

✔️Endurance sports are very repetitive in nature. Repetition can lead to overuse injuries and injuries can keep you from practicing or competing in your sport. Proper strength training is a great way improve muscle imbalances so you stay healthy and stay on the field.

Cardio For Strength and Power Sports:

✔️Cardio is essential for recovery. If you can recover faster between plays, you will perform better, you get to stay on the field longer, you get the ball more, and your stats will be better for it.

✔️You are able to get more work done during training. In the same way recovery is important between plays, it is also important between sets. Quicker recovery allows you to safely accrue more volume in the gym at the same intensity, which allows you to get bigger, stronger, and faster than your competitors.

✔️You can sustain a high intensity for a longer period of time. One max effort might be enough to impress your buddies, but it’s not enough to win a game. If you can produce the same muscular tension at the same intensity over a longer period of time, you will be a better athlete.

✔️Type 1 muscle fibers are known for endurance. Type 2 muscle fibers are known for power. You need both. Take your hamstrings, for example. Your hamstrings are crucial for speed and power production, but they are made up of approximately 50% slow twitch fibers. This means in order to optimally train them for maximum strength and hypertrophy, you need to include both heavy lifting and slow steady state cardio.

✔️Overuse injures can happen from only lifting heavy. The key to getting stronger is consistency over the long term. Including cardio in your training plan can keep you in the gym getting stronger and keep you on the field performing powerfully.

You probably gravitate toward either training for endurance or training for strength/power. Take inventory of the areas you are neglecting in your training. These are probably your greatest opportunities for improvement.

If you would like guidance in your training program, schedule an Initial Assessment with us at and we can create a game plan tailored to your needs and goals!

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