Is Concurrent Training Good or Bad for Muscle Strength Gain?

Coaches and athletes always face a challenge in finding the best combination of exercises to make the athlete fittest of all. Most athletes focus on endurance, but in the end, the one who has good ‘endurance and strength’ will win on the field compared to the one who has the best endurance only. Coaches select the exercises depending upon the sports.


The training of the athletes is divided into different phases so that the athletes may not get excessive fatigue. Different types of training are scheduled for the athletes in different phases:

1-Resistance training (RT) means increasing muscle strength by working against resistance through the use of weights. Athletes can also use their body weight as a resistance force.

2- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves repetitive bouts of high intensity effort followed by intervals of recovery time.

3- Concurrent training (CT) is the combination of cardiovascular(endurance) training and resistance training within the same day or maybe in the same session.

Is Combined strategy (RT and HIIT) more efficient?

In the time just before the matches, the coaches usually combine the Resistance training and High-Intensity Interval training to improve the “on-field” performance. This combination (concurrent training) may seem time-efficient, but it has also created some concerns because of the adaptive responses seen in the athletes, as some studies show a decrease in strength or overall body mass if the combined strategy is practiced. The response seen in athletes is called the “interference effect” of training. (1)

Studies mentioned that combining endurance and resistance training affects muscle strength, power, and hypertrophy. The research was performed to see that whether the interference effect due to the concurrent training will affect the muscle strength or not.

The research revealed that the strength of the highly trained individuals would improve by combining resistance and endurance training. It was also proved that the volume or intensity of the endurance training does not affect the magnitude of improvement in muscle strength. The athletes can do the endurance and the RT on different or same days or in the same session.



What should be my sequence of concurrent training to avoid muscular fatigue?


However, there is one important point that must be kept under consideration. If the athletes want to have both pieces of training in one session, then in sequence, the resistance training should be followed by the endurance training. If the endurance training is done before the resistance training, it will affect the strength of the muscles due to the excessive fatigue in a very short time.

This will affect the athlete’s strength to lift the loads in the resistance training afterward. However, research showed that combining resistance and different modes/intensities of endurance training will result in substantial progress in lower body strength. However, the power of the muscle is the factor that can get compromised due to the interference effect.

In a comparison of the resistance training alone and the training combined with the HIIT, the research showed that both showed the same increase in the upper muscle strength. However, increase the lower muscle strength is a bit different. RT alone has a greater effect in increasing lower muscle strength.

Conclusion

These studies conclude that HIIT can be prescribed alongside RT without any loss of lean muscle mass. The combined strategy is superior in terms of overall sports performance. If you are worried about the change in muscle mass and any decrease in muscle strength, running-based HIIT should be recommended, along with proper rest time between RT and HIIT sessions. (2)

References:

1- Leveritt, M.,Abernethy, P. J., Barry, B. K., & Logan, P. A.(1999). Concurrent Strength and Endurance Training.Sports Medicine, 28(6),413–427. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-199928060-00004

2- García-Pallarés, J., & Izquierdo, M. (2011). Strategies to Optimize Concurrent Training of Strength and Aerobic Fitness for Rowing and Canoeing. Sports Medicine, 41(4), 329– 343. https://doi.org/10.2165/11539690-000000000-00000

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