Strength versus Endurance Training

Review Article

Austin J Orthopade & Rheumatol. 2014;1(2): 5.

Strength versus Endurance Training

Ahmad S1* and Roach R1

1Department of Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery, Princess Royal Hospital, United Kingdom

*Corresponding author: Ahmad S, Department of Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery, Princess Royal Hospital, Telford, Shropshire, TF1 6TF, United Kingdom

Received: October 20, 2014; Accepted: November 26, 2014; Published: December 02, 2014


The molecular level research is supporting the macroscopic and microscopic findings on whether strength training and endurance training are mutually exclusive. Certainly there has been much progress since the publication of Dudley’s (Sports Med 1987;4:79-85) work. The impression is that there are both central and peripheral factors. At the central level evidence is relatively limited but does seem specific. However, in the neuromuscular setting there are multiple interactions at a variety of levels involving at least three different pathways in muscles and excitatory/inhibitory links all the way to the promotion of mRNA activity. All these steps therefore go against strength and endurance training adaptations being mutually exclusive. If we however just focus on the single-fibre microscopic end result, changes do indeed appear very specific to the demands placed on the body. This fits with the adaptive plasticity of many systems during and after development. This is then affected by additional variables to give the macroscopic changes we have known about for some time. A very complex continuum of load versus response therefore exists with multiple controlling variables. The idea of a ‘single’ switch remains elusive.

Keywords: Human training; Macroscopic; Microscopic; Molecular


The dilemma as to whether strength training and endurance training are mutually exclusive has been topical for the last three decades and indeed has generated much research that was initially observational and is now very much immunohistochemical. As a result researchers are moving from the field of applied physiology through to molecular biochemistry and genetics.

In order to answer the question posed we will briefly describe both types of training and their relevance before splitting the evidence into three stages, which to a certain extent reflects historical progress namely macroscopic evidence, microscopic evidence and molecular research.

Strength and Endurance Training

Strength training has the intention of getting stronger by generating more force across a joint to move or resist an object that can be directly measured. It is agreed that to undergo adaptive change the musculoskeletal system has to be regularly overloaded safely. Training is therefore explosive and immediate, hence anaerobic, against either weights or resistance. Typically this involves low repetitions of high force on a programme of a few (or even one) cycles to ensure adequate recovery that is tailored to the individual (periodisation). The end result is the typical physic of a body builder. For instance, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s competition body measurements were as follows: weight 106.5 kg, chest 145 cm, arms 56 cm, waist 84 cm, thighs 72 cm and calves 51 cm. These strength individuals tend to have a high percentage of fast twitch (type IIa and IIb)) muscle fibres (Table 1). High intensity strength training can however result in cardio respiratory responses [1].