Concurrent training can be defined as the training of multiple areas or qualities at the same time. For example, for strength athletes such as powerlifters, concurrent training may relate to training strength, power and hypertrophy simultaneously. For the majority of athletes, they not only need to be strong and powerful but also need endurance for sustained efforts.

A fantastic example of this is a rugby league player who needs both great endurance for sustained effort, as players (depending on position) can cover on average over 7km per game, as well as higher levels of muscle mass, strength and power due to the full contact physical nature and demands of the sport.


A fantastic pioneering study was conducted back in 1980 by Dr. Robert Hickson which first introduced this concept of interference when combining strength and endurance training. His findings suggested that combining strength with endurance training would reduce a person’s capacity to develop strength more than just training strength alone. He also found that combining strength and endurance training would not effect the magnitude of increases in VO2max.

Later studies conducted by Ronnestad et al. (2012) have suggested similar findings in relation to muted strength and hypertrophic responses when adding endurance training to strength training.

The graph below was taken form Macdougall & Sale (2014) ‘The Physiology of Training For High Performance’ which highlights the results found in the Ronnestad et al. (2012) study. It shows the strength only group (S) had a greater increase in 1RM for a squat and leg press, as well as greater increases in rate of force development (RFD), Squat jump height (SJ) and cross sectional area of thigh muscle (CSA), when compared to the results of the strength and endurance group (SE).

training for strength vs endurance, Gym Workout, MD Strength Centre


Most of the recent literature suggests that concurrent training methods combining both strength and endurance lead to greater performance benefits than merely training endurance alone. A study compiled by Aagaard et al. (2011) looked at the effect of adding a 16 week strength training protocol to the endurance training program of top level cyclists. The results found that those cyclists who combined strength training with their endurance training saw not only greater increases in there strength when compared to the endurance only group but also greater improvements in their respective 5 minute and 45 minute time trials when compared to the endurance only training group.

The graph below was taken form Macdougall & Sale (2014) ‘The Physiology of Training For High Performance’, which highlights the results found in the the Aagard et al (2011) study. It highlights not only a dramatic increase in strength from the strength and endurance group (SE), but also a greater increase in average power for both 5 min and 45 min time trials for the strength only group, when compared to the endurance only group (E).

strength vs endurance, Gym Workout, MD Strength Centre


Endurance training for Strength and Power Athletes will;

  • Decrease strength

  • Decrease rate of force development

  • Decrease power generating capacity

  • Decrease overall anaerobic performance


Whereas … Strength Training For Endurance Athletes will;

  • Increase strength

  • Increase rate of force development

  • Increase power generating capacity

  • Increase Overall Endurance Performance


So how are athletes such as rugby league players able to maximise strength and power output whilst minimising the interference of this caused by endurance training?

We have already established that a rugby league athlete requires great endurance for sustained efforts over the course of the game as well as high levels of muscle mass, strength and power generating capacity due to the full contact physical nature and demands of the sport. A review of the literature over the past 30 years conducted by Murach & Bagley (2016) found that to maximise hypertrophy, strength and power potential that a minimum of 3 hrs, but optimally 6hrs+ is needed between bouts of strength training and endurance training to allow for more optimal recovery and minimise the interference caused.

To add to this, more current research conducted by Jones et al. (2017) found thatperforming strength training before endurance training leads to better acute adaptations than performing endurance training before strength training. Jones et al. (2017) found that blood cortisol (stress releasing hormone) and lactate concentrations were much higher when endurance training was performed before strength training than vice versa. This lead to a conclusion that  partaking in endurance training prior to strength training would lead to poorer strength adaptations therefore decreasing levels of performance.



  1. Avoid taking sets to failure or using RM (repetition maximum) training zones for strength training protocols. The metabolic cost of doing so for athletes requiring the use of concurrent training methods is too high to adequately recover from.

  2. Monitor and set appropriate training loads (paying particular attention to tracking total volume load [Sets X Reps X Weight]) during resistance training bouts so that you or your athletes’ recovery will be maximised, whilst still being able to complete endurance training at the required intensity. This will ensure that you are maximising both strength and endurance adaptations.

  3. Allow a minimum of 3hrs but optimally 6hrs+ between respective strength training and endurance training bouts. This will lessen the effect of interference between strength and endurance training.

  4. Place strength training before endurance training sessions when completing more than one session per day, to maximise strength and power adaptations, whilst minimising potential acute side effects that may lead to a performance decrease.

  5. Do not merely add strength training in the the current training plan. It must be integrated, meaning that for endurance athletes wanting to gain the benefits of strength training they must lessen their endurance volume to account for the added strength sessions. This decrease may vary depending on where in the periodised training plan you or your athlete is. Current literature suggests that 19-32% of training volume for RUNNERS may come from resistance training, whilst 37% of training volume for CYCLISTS may come from resistance training. Again these percentages may change dependent upon where the athlete is in their periodised training plan.



Aagaard, P., et al. (2011). “Effects of resistance training on endurance capacity and muscle fiber composition in young top-level cyclists.” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in SPorts(6): 298-307.

Austin, D. J. and S. J. Kelly (2014). “Professional Rugby League Positional Match-Play Analysis Through The Use Of Global Positioning System ” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 28(1): 187-193.

Hickson, R. (1980). “Interference of Strength Development by Simultaneously Training for Strength and Endurance ” European Journal of Applied Physiology 45: 255-263.

Jones, T. W., et al. (2017). “Effects of Strength and Endurance Exercise order on Endocrine Responses to Concurrent Training.” European Journal of Sports Science 17(3): 326-334.

Macdougall, D. and D. Sale (2014). The Physiology of Training for High Performance. United Kingdom, Oxford University Press.

Murach, K. and J. Bagley (2016). “Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy with Concurrent Exercise Training: Contrary Evidence for an Interference Effect.” Journal of Sports Medicine 46: 1029-1039.

Ronnestad, B. R., et al. (2012). “High Volume of Endurance Training Impairs Adaptations to 12 Weeks of Strength Training in Well-Trained Endurance Athletes.” European Journal of Applied Physiology 112: 1457-1466.

Paavolainen, L., et al. (1999). “Explosive-strength training improves 5-km running time by improving running economy and muscle power.” Journal of Applied Physiology 5: 1527-1533.

Mikkola, J., et al. (2007). “Concurrent endurance and explosive type strength training improves neuromuscular and anaerobic characteristics in young distance runners.” International Jouran of Sports Medicine 7: 602-611.

Bastiaans, J., et al. (2001). “The effects of replacing a portion of endurance training by explosive strength training on performance in trained cyclists.” European Journal of Applied Physiology 86: 79-84.