Several strategies have been used to improve running economy (RE). Defined as the oxygen uptake required at a given submaximal running velocity, it has been considered a key aerobic parameter related to endurance running performance. In this context, concurrent strength and endurance training has been considered an effective method, although conclusions on the optimal concurrent training cannot yet be drawn.
To evaluate the effect of concurrent training on RE in endurance running athletes and identify the effects of subject characteristics and concurrent training variables on the magnitude of RE improvement.
We conducted a computerized search of the PubMed and Web of Science databases, and references of original studies were searched for further relevant studies. The analysis comprised 20 effects in 16 relevant studies published up to August 2015. The outcomes were calculated as the difference in percentage change between control and experimental groups (% change) and data were presented as mean ± 95 % confidence limit. Meta-analyses were performed using a random-effects model and, in addition, simple and multiple meta-regression analyses were used to identify effects of age, training status, number of sessions per week, training duration, type of strength training, and neuromuscular performance on % change in RE.
The concurrent training program had a small beneficial effect on RE (% change = −3.93 ± 1.19 %; p < 0.001). In addition, explosive (% change = −4.83 ± 1.53; p < 0.001) and heavy weight (% change = −3.65 ± 2.74; p = 0.009) training programs produced similar improvements in RE, while isometric training (% change = −2.20 ± 4.37; p = 0.324) in selected studies did not induce a significant effect. The multiple linear meta-regression analysis showed that all the differences between % changes could be explained by including the above-mentioned characteristics of subjects and weight training program elements. This model showed that the magnitude of the % change in RE was larger for longer training duration (β = −0.83 ± 0.72, p = 0.02).
Explosive training and heavy weight training are effective concurrent training methods aiming to improve RE within a few weeks. However, long-term training programs seem to be necessary when the largest possible improvement in RE is desired.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Jones AM, Carter H. The effect of endurance training on parameters of aerobic fitness. Sports Med. 2000;29(6):373–86.
Conley D, Krahenbuhl G. Running economy and distance running performance of highly trained athletes. Med Sci Sports. 1980;12(5):357–60.
Morgan D, Craib M. Physiological aspects of running economy. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992;24(4):456–61.
Saunders PU, Pyne DB, Telford RD, et al. Factors affecting running economy in trained distance runners. Sports Med. 2004;34(7):465–85.
Assumpcao Cde O, Lima LC, Oliveira FB, et al. Exercise-induced muscle damage and running economy in humans. Sci World J. 2013;2013:189149.
Sjödin B, Jacobs I, Svedenhag J. Changes in onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA) and muscle enzymes after training at OBLA. Eur J Appl Physiol. 1982;49(1):45–57.
Svedenhag J, Sjödin B. Physiological characteristics of elite male runners in and off-season. Can J Appl Sport Sci. 1985;10(3):127–33.
Scrimgeour AG, Noakes TD, Adams B, et al. The influence of weekly training distance on fractional utilization of maximum aerobic capacity in marathon and ultramarathon runners. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1986;55(2):202–9.
Saunders PU, Telford RD, Pyne DB, et al. Improved running economy in elite runners after 20 days of simulated moderate-altitude exposure. J Appl Physiol. 2004;96(3):931–7.
Turner AM, Owings M, Schwane JA. Improvement in running economy after 6 weeks of plyometric training. J Strength Cond Res. 2003;17(1):60–7.
Guglielmo LG, Greco CC, Denadai BS. Effects of strength training on running economy. Int J Sports Med. 2009;30(1):27–32.
Yamamoto LM, Lopez RM, Klau JF, et al. The effects of resistance training on endurance distance running performance among highly trained runners: a systematic review. J Strength Cond Res. 2008;22(6):2036–44.
Beattie K, Kenny IC, Lyons M, et al. The effect of strength training on performance in endurance athletes. Sports Med. 2014;44(6):845–65.
Maher CG, Sherrington C, Herbert RD, et al. Reliability of the PEDro scale for rating quality of randomized controlled trials. Phys Ther. 2003;83(8):713–21.
Albracht K, Arampatzis A. Exercise-induced changes in triceps surae tendon stiffness and muscle strength affect running economy in humans. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013;113(6):1605–15.
Piacentini MF, De Ioannon G, Comotto S, et al. Concurrent strength and endurance training effects on running economy in master endurance runners. J Strength Cond Res. 2013;27(8):2295–3035.
Damasceno MV, Lima-Silva AE, Pasqua LA, et al. Effects of resistance training on neuromuscular characteristics and pacing during 10-km running time trial. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015;115(7):1513–22.
Ferrauti A, Bergermann M, Fernandez-Fernandez J. Effects of a concurrent strength and endurance training on running performance and running economy in recreational marathon runners. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(10):2770–8.
Fletcher JR, Esau SP, MacIntosh BR. Changes in tendon stiffness and running economy in highly trained distance runners. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010;110(5):1037–46.
Johnston RE, Quinn TJ, Kertzer R, et al. Strength training in female distance runners: impact on running economy. J Strength Cond Res. 1997;11(4):224–9.
Mikkola J, Rusko H, Nummela A, et al. Concurrent endurance and explosive type strength training improves neuromuscular and anaerobic characteristics in young distance runners. Int J Sports Med. 2007;28(7):602–11.
Mikkola J, Vesterinen V, Taipale R, et al. Effect of resistance training regimens on treadmill running and neuromuscular performance in recreational endurance runners. J Sports Sci. 2011;29(13):1359–71.
Millet GP, Jaouen B, Borrani F, et al. Effects of concurrent endurance and strength training on running economy and VO(2) kinetics. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002;34(8):1351–9.
Pellegrino J, Ruby BC, Dumke CL. Effect of plyometrics on the energy cost of running and MHC and titin isoforms. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015;48(1):49–56.
Berryman N, Maurel D, Bosquet L. Effect of plyometric vs. dynamic weight training on the energy cost of running. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(7):1818–25.
Saunders PU, Telford RD, Pyne DB, et al. Short-term plyometric training improves running economy in highly trained middle and long distance runners. J Strength Cond Res. 2006;20(4):947–54.
Sedano S, Marín PJ, Cuadrado G, et al. Concurrent training in elite male runners: the influence of strength versus muscular endurance training on performance outcomes. J Strength Cond Res. 2013;27(9):2433–43.
Skovgaard C, Christensen PM, Larsen S, et al. Concurrent speed endurance and resistance training improves performance, running economy, and muscle NHE1 in moderately trained runners. J Appl Physiol. 2014;117(10):1097–109.
Spurrs RW, Murphy AJ, Watsford ML. The effect of plyometric training on distance running performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2003;89(1):1–7.
Støren O, Helgerud J, Støa EM, et al. Maximal strength training improves running economy in distance runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008;40(6):1087–92.
Thomas JR, French KE. The use of meta-analysis in exercise and sport: a tutorial. Res Q Exerc Sport. 1986;57(3):196–204.
Borenstein M, Hedges L, Higgins J, et al. Introduction to meta-analysis. West Sussex: Wiley; 2009.
Rothstein H, Sutton A, Borenstein M. Publication bias in meta-analysis: the trim and fill method. West Sussex: Wiley; 2005.
Higgins JP, Thompson SG, Deeks JJ, et al. Measuring inconsistency in meta-analyses. BMJ. 2003;327:557–60.
Hopkins WG, Marshall SW, Batterham AM, et al. Progressive statistics for studies in sports medicine and exercise science. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009;41(1):3–13.
Pedhazur EJ. Multiple regression in behavioural research. New York: Holt; 1982.
Moritani T, DeVries HA. Neural factors versus hypertrophy in the time course of muscle strength gain. Am J Phys Med. 1979;58(3):115–30.
Moritani T. Neuromuscular adaptations during the acquisition of muscle strength, power and motor tasks. J Biomech. 1993;26(1):95–107.
Staron RS, Karapondo DL, Kraemer WJ, et al. Skeletal muscle adaptations during early phase of heavy-resistance training in men and women. J Appl Physiol. 1994;76(3):1247–55.
Häkkinen K, Alen M, Kraemer WJ, et al. Neuromuscular adaptations during concurrent strength and endurance training versus strength training. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2003;89(1):42–52.
de Souza EO, Tricoli V, Roschel H, et al. Molecular adaptations to concurrent training. Int J Sports Med. 2013;34(3):207–13.
Williams KR, Cavanagh PR. Relationship between distance running mechanics, running economy, and performance. J Appl Physiol. 1987;63(3):1236–45.
Arampatzis A, De Monte G, Karamanidis K, et al. Influence of the muscle-tendon unit’s mechanical and morphological properties on running economy. J Exp Biol. 2006;209(Pt 17):3345–57.
Barnes KR, Kilding AE. Strategies to improve running economy. Sports Med. 2015;45(1):37–56.
Cormie P, McGuigan MR, Newton RU. Adaptations in athletic performance after ballistic power versus strength training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42(8):1582–98.
Sperlich PF, Behringer M, Mester J. The effects of resistance training interventions on vertical jump performance in basketball players: a meta-analysis. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2016;56(7–8):874–83.
Perez-Gomez J, Calbet JA. Training methods to improve vertical jump performance. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2013;53(4):339–57.
Kubo K, Kanehisa H, Fukunaga T. Effects of different duration isometric contractions on tendon elasticity in human quadriceps muscles. J Physiol. 2001;15:536(Pt 2):649–55.
Palmer TB, Thompson BJ, Hawkey MJ, et al. The influence of athletic status on the passive properties of the muscle-tendon unit and traditional performance measures in division I female soccer players and nonathlete controls. J Strength Cond Res. 2014;28(7):2026–34.
The authors thank Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo for financial support provided (Process 2013/23585-4). No other sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.
Conflict of interest
Benedito Sérgio Denadai, Rafael Alves de Aguiar, Leonardo Coelho Rabello de Lima, Camila Coelho Greco, and Fabrizio Caputo declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.
About this article
Cite this article
Denadai, B.S., de Aguiar, R.A., de Lima, L.C.R. et al. Explosive Training and Heavy Weight Training are Effective for Improving Running Economy in Endurance Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med 47, 545–554 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0604-z
- Strength Training
- Endurance Training
- Endurance Athlete
- Endurance Runner
- Squat Jump