Explosive Training and Heavy Weight Training are Effective for Improving Running Economy in Endurance Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Abstract

Background

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.

Objective

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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).

Conclusion

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.

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Correspondence to Benedito Sérgio Denadai.

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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.

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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

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Keywords

  • Strength Training
  • Endurance Training
  • Endurance Athlete
  • Endurance Runner
  • Squat Jump