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Training for endurance in sport and fitness
Training for endurance in sport and fitness

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5 Resistance training for endurance

Whether someone is climbing, running, swimming or playing sport for an extended period, muscular strength endurance (MSE) is required for muscles to continually contract so as to provide propulsion and power, and maintain technique. Therefore, resistance training to develop muscular strength endurance may enhance the performance of endurance athletes. To develop muscular endurance, resistance training should be performed using low intensities, high repetitions (volume) and limited rest to create the repetitive strain on the muscles (see Table 4). For an athlete who is new to resistance exercise, one set of exercises per muscle group should create beneficial muscular adaptations. However, 2–3 sets of repetitions per exercise is recommended for more experienced athletes.

Table 4 Training principle recommendations for training goals
Training goal


(% of 1RM)

Repetitions Sets Rest
Maximal strength core exercises ≥85 ≤6 2–6 2–5 min
assistance exercises 80
Power single-effort event 80–90 1–2 3–5
multiple-effort event 75–85 3–5
Hypertrophy 67–85 6–12 3–6 30–90 s
HighlightedMuscular endurance Highlighted≤67 Highlighted≥12 Highlighted2–3 Highlighted≤30 s
Source: Sheppard and Triplett (2016)

For more advanced endurance athletes, the volume of endurance training completed through running, cycling or swimming should create sufficient positive endurance adaptations in the muscle. Therefore, instead of using endurance volumes and intensities, resistance training can focus on developing muscular strength, which allows muscles to function more effectively, to expend less energy in performing the same action and to become more resilient to injury (Blagrove, 2015). Incorporating strength training into an endurance athlete’s programme should enhance the athlete’s exercise economy and anaerobic power, and reduce their risk of injury (Blagrove, 2015; Denadai et al., 2017). However, when combining endurance and strength training in a programme, more care is needed to control programming variables (frequency, intensity, time and rest) to minimise the risk of overtraining and to maximise the success of the programme.