Concurrent strength and endurance (CSE) training improves distance running performance more than endurance training alone, but the mechanisms underpinning this phenomenon are unclear. It has been hypothesised that biomechanical or neuromuscular adaptations are responsible for improvements in running performance; however, evidence on this topic has not been synthesised in a review.
To evaluate the effect of CSE training on biomechanical and neuromuscular variables in distance runners.
Seven electronic databases were searched from inception to November 2018 using key terms related to running and strength training. Studies were included if the following criteria were met: (1) population: ‘distance’ or ‘endurance’ runners of any training status; (2) intervention: CSE training; (3) comparator: running-only control group; (4) outcomes: at least one biomechanical or neuromuscular variable; and, (5) study design: randomised and non-randomised comparative training studies. Biomechanical and neuromuscular variables of interest included: (1) kinematic, kinetic or electromyography outcome measures captured during running; (2) lower body muscle force, strength or power outcome measures; and (3) lower body muscle–tendon stiffness outcome measures. Methodological quality and risk of bias for each study were assessed using the PEDro scale. The level of evidence for each variable was categorised according to the quantity and PEDro rating of the included studies. Between-group standardised mean differences (SMD) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated for studies and meta-analyses were performed to identify the pooled effect of CSE training on biomechanical and neuromuscular variables.
The search resulted in 1578 potentially relevant articles, of which 25 met the inclusion criteria and were included. There was strong evidence that CSE training significantly increased knee flexion (SMD 0.89 [95% CI 0.48, 1.30], p < 0.001), ankle plantarflexion (SMD 0.74 [95% CI 0.21–1.26], p = 0.006) and squat (SMD 0.63 [95% CI 0.13, 1.12], p = 0.010) strength, but not jump height, more than endurance training alone. Moderate evidence also showed that CSE training significantly increased knee extension strength (SMD 0.69 [95% CI 0.29, 1.09], p < 0.001) more than endurance training alone. There was very limited evidence reporting changes in stride parameters and no studies examined changes in biomechanical and neuromuscular variables during running.
Concurrent strength and endurance training improves the force-generating capacity of the ankle plantarflexors, quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteal muscles. These muscles support and propel the centre of mass and accelerate the leg during running, but there is no evidence to suggest these adaptations transfer from strength exercises to running. There is a need for research that investigates changes in biomechanical and neuromuscular variables during running to elucidate the effect of CSE training on run performance in distance runners.
This is a preview of subscription content,to check access.
Access this article
Data Availability Statement
The datasets analysed during the current review are available in published articles (as referenced) or available from the corresponding author as indicated by ‘CORR’ in Table 1.
Wilson JM, Marin PJ, Rhea MR, Wilson SM, Loenneke JP, Anderson JC. Concurrent training: a meta-analysis examining interference of aerobic and resistance exercises. J Strength Cond Res. 2012;26(8):2293–307.
Alcaraz-Ibañez M, Rodríguez-Pérez M. Effects of resistance training on performance in previously trained endurance runners: a systematic review. J Sports Sci. 2018;36(6):613–29.
Balsalobre-Fernández C, Santos-Concejero J, Grivas GV. Effects of strength training on running economy in highly trained runners: a systematic review with meta-analysis of controlled trials. J Strength Cond Res. 2016;30(8):2361–8.
Beattie K, Kenny I, Lyons M, Carson B. The effect of strength training on performance in endurance athletes. Sports Med. 2014;44(6):845–65.
Dankel SJ, Mattocks KT, Mouser JG, Buckner SL, Jessee MB, Loenneke JP. A critical review of the current evidence examining whether resistance training improves time trial performance. J Sports Sci. 2018;36(13):1485–91.
Denadai BS, de Aguiar RA, de Lima LCR, Greco CC, Caputo F. Explosive training and heavy weight training are effective for improving running economy in endurance athletes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2016;47(3):545–54.
Yamamoto LM, Lopez RM, Klau JF, Casa DJ, Kraemer WJ, Maresh CM. 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.
Paavolainen L, Häkkinen K, Hämäläinen I, Nummela A, Rusko H. Explosive-strength training improves 5-km running time by improving running economy and muscle power. J Appl Physiol. 1999;86(5):1527–33.
Spurrs RW, Murphy AJ, Watsford ML. The effect of plyometric training on distance running performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2003;89(1):1–7.
Kelly CM, Burnett AF, Newton MJ. The effect of strength training on three-kilometer performance in recreational women endurance runners. J Strength Cond Res. 2008;22(2):396–403.
Sato K, Mokha M. Does core strength training influence running kinetics, lower-extremity stability, and 5000-M performance in runners? J Strength Cond Res. 2009;23(1):133–40.
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.
Sedano S, Marín PJ, Cuadrado G, Redondo JC. 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, Andersen TR, Thomassen M, Bangsbo J. 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.
Ramírez-Campillo R, Álvarez C, Henríquez-Olguín C, Baez EB, Martínez C, Andrade DC, et al. Effects of plyometric training on endurance and explosive strength performance in competitive middle- and long-distance runners. J Strength Cond Res. 2014;28(1):97–104.
Damasceno MV, Lima-Silva AE, Pasqua LA, Tricoli V, Duarte M, Bishop DJ, 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.
Karsten B, Stevens L, Colpus M, Larumbe-Zabala E, Naclerio F. The effects of sport-specific maximal strength and conditioning training on critical velocity, anaerobic running distance, and 5-km race performance. Int J Sport Physiol. 2016;11(1):80–5.
Vorup J, Tybirk J, Gunnarsson TP, Ravnholt T, Dalsgaard S, Bangsbo J. Effect of speed endurance and strength training on performance, running economy and muscular adaptations in endurance-trained runners. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2016;116(7):1331–41.
Vikmoen O, Raastad T, Seynnes O, Bergstrøm K, Ellefsen S, Rønnestad BR. Effects of heavy strength training on running performance and determinants of running performance in female endurance athletes. PLoS One. 2016;11(3):e0150799.
Johnston RE, Quinn TJ, Kertzer R, Vroman NB. Strength training in female distance runners: impact on running economy. J Strength Cond Res. 1997;11(4):224–9.
Taipale RS, Mikkola J, Salo T, Hokka L, Vesterinen V, Kraemer WJ, Nummela A, et al. Mixed maximal and explosive strength training in recreational endurance runners. J Strength Cond Res. 2014;28(3):689–99.
Taipale RS, Mikkola J, Nummela A, Vesterinen V, Capostagno B, Walker S, et al. Strength training in endurance runners. Int J Sports Med. 2010;31(7):468–76.
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.
Millet GP, Jaouen B, Borrani F, Candau R. Effects of concurrent endurance and strength training on running economy and V̇O2 kinetics. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002;34(8):1351–9.
Støren Ø, Helgerud J, Støa EM, Hoff J. Maximal strength training improves running economy in distance runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008;40(6):1087–92.
Saunders PU, Telford RD, Pyne DB, Peltola EM, Cunningham RB, Gore CJ, 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.
Guglielmo LGA, Greco CC, Denadai BS. Effects of strength training on running economy. Int J Sports Med. 2009;30(1):27–32.
Mikkola J, Rusko H, Nummela A, Pollari T, Häkkinen K. 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.
Nelson AG, Arnall DA, Loy SF, Silvester LJ, Conlee RK. Consequences of combining strength and endurance training regimens. Phys Ther. 1990;70(5):287–94.
Piacentini MF, De Ioannon G, Comotto S, Spedicato A, Vernillo G, La Torre A. Concurrent strength and endurance training effects on running economy in master endurance runners. J Strength Cond Res. 2013;27(8):2295–303.
Mikkola J, Vesterinen V, Taipale R, Capostagno B, Häkkinen K, Nummela A. Effect of resistance training regimens on treadmill running and neuromuscular performance in recreational endurance runners. J Sports Sci. 2011;29(13):1359–71.
Ache-Dias J, Dellagrana RA, Teixeira AS, Dal Pupo J, Moro ARP. Effect of jumping interval training on neuromuscular and physiological parameters: a randomized controlled study. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016;41(1):20–5.
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.
Gamble P. Strength and conditioning for team sports: sport-specific physical preparation for high performance. London: Routledge; 2012.
Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. Ann Intern Med. 2009;151(4):264–9.
Faigenbaum AD, Kraemer WJ, Blimkie CJ, Jeffreys I, Micheli LJ, Nitka M, et al. Youth resistance training: updated position statement paper from the national strength and conditioning association. J Strength Cond Res. 2009;23(5):S60–79.
American College of Sports Medicine. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults [position statement]. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009;41(3):687–708.
Cochrane Collaboration. Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions [online]. The Cochrane Collaboration. 2008. http://www.mri.gov.lk/assets/Uploads/Research/Cochrane-Hand-booktext.pdf. Accessed 20 Nov 2018.
Maher CG, Sherrington C, Herbert RD, Moseley AM, Elkins M. Reliability of the PEDro scale for rating quality of randomized controlled trials. Phys Ther. 2003;83(8):713–21.
Hedges L, Olkin I. Statistical models for meta-analysis. New York: Academic Press; 1985.
Cohen J. Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (revised ed.). New York: Academic Press; 1977.
Higgins JP, Thompson SG, Deeks JJ, Altman DG. Measuring inconsistency in meta-analyses. BMJ. 2003;327(7414):557.
Hopkins W. A new view of statistics [online]. Internet Society for Sport Science. 2000. http://www.sportsci.org/resource/stats. Accessed 27 Feb 2019.
Neal BS, Barton CJ, Gallie R, O’Halloran P, Morrissey D. Runners with patellofemoral pain have altered biomechanics which targeted interventions can modify: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Gait Posture. 2016;45:69–82.
Van Tulder M, Furlan A, Bombardier C, Bouter L, Editorial Board of the Cochrane Collaboration Back Review Group. Updated method guidelines for systematic reviews in the Cochrane collaboration back review group. Spine. 2003;28(12):1290–9.
Chtara M, Chamari K, Chaouachi M, Chaouachi A, Koubaa D, Feki Y, et al. Effects of intra-session concurrent endurance and strength training sequence on aerobic performance and capacity. Br J Sports Med. 2005;39(8):555–60.
Edge J, Hill-Haas S, Goodman C, Bishop D. Effects of resistance training on H+ regulation, buffer capacity, and repeated sprints. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006;38(11):2004–11.
Gómez-Molina J, Ogueta-Alday A, Camara J, Stickley C, Garcia-Lopez J. Effect of 8 weeks of concurrent plyometric and running training on spatiotemporal and physiological variables of novice runners. Eur J Sport Sci. 2018;18(2):162–9.
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.
Esteve-Lanao J, Rhea MR, Fleck SJ, Lucia A. Running-specific, periodized strength training attenuates loss of stride length during intense endurance running. J Strength Cond Res. 2008;22(4):1176–83.
Bluett KA, Croix MBADS, Lloyd RS. A preliminary investigation into concurrent aerobic and resistance training in youth runners. Isokinet Exerc Sci. 2015;23(2):77–85.
Elgushy H. The impact of concurrent training on certain pulmonary, physical variables and record level of middle distances for young athletics. Ovidius Univ Ann Ser Phys Educ Sport Sci Mov Health (Online). 2016;16(2):S454–61.
Beattie K, Carson BP, Lyons M, Kenny IC, Rossiter A. The effect of strength training on performance indicators in distance runners. J Strength Cond Res. 2017;31(1):9–23.
Taipale R, Mikkola J, Vesterinen V, Nummela A, Häkkinen K. Neuromuscular adaptations during combined strength and endurance training in endurance runners: maximal versus explosive strength training or a mix of both. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013;113(2):325–35.
Pellegrino J, Ruby BC, Dumke CL. Effect of plyometrics on the energy cost of running and MHC and titin isoforms. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016;48(1):49–56.
Schumann M, Mykkänen OP, Doma K, Mazzolari R, Nyman K, Häkkinen K. Effects of endurance training only versus same-session combined endurance and strength training on physical performance and serum hormone concentrations in recreational endurance runners. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014;40(1):28–36.
Schumann M, Pelttari P, Doma K, Karavirta L, Häkkinen K. Neuromuscular adaptations to same-session combined endurance and strength training in recreational endurance runners. Int J Sports Med. 2016;37(14):1136–43.
Blagrove RC, Howe LP, Cushion EJ, Spence A, Howatson G, Pedlar CR, et al. Effects of strength training on postpubertal adolescent distance runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2018;50(6):1224–32.
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.
Hunter JP, Marshall RN, McNair PJ. Interaction of step length and step rate during sprint running. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004;36(2):261–71.
Lai A, Schache AG, Lin Y-C, Pandy MG. Tendon elastic strain energy in the human ankle plantar-flexors and its role with increased running speed. J Exp Biol. 2014;217(17):3159–68.
Hof A, Van Zandwijk J, Bobbert M. Mechanics of human triceps surae muscle in walking, running and jumping. Acta Physiol. 2002;174(1):17–30.
Dorn TW, Schache AG, Pandy MG. Muscular strategy shift in human running: dependence of running speed on hip and ankle muscle performance. J Exp Biol. 2012;215(11):1944–56.
Schache AG, Blanch PD, Dorn TW, Brown NA, Rosemond D, Pandy MG. Effect of running speed on lower limb joint kinetics. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011;43(7):1260–71.
Hudgins B, Scharfenberg J, Triplett NT, McBride JM. Relationship between jumping ability and running performance in events of varying distance. J Strength Cond Res. 2013;27(3):563–7.
Chapman AR, Vicenzino B, Blanch P, Hodges PW. Leg muscle recruitment during cycling is less developed in triathletes than cyclists despite matched cycling training loads. Exp Brain Res. 2007;181(3):503–18.
Chapman AR, Vicenzino B, Blanch P, Hodges PW. Patterns of leg muscle recruitment vary between novice and highly trained cyclists. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2008;18(3):359–71.
Chapman AR, Vicenzino B, Blanch P, Hodges PW. Is running less skilled in triathletes than runners matched for running training history? Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008;40(3):557–65.
Williams KR, Cavanagh PR. Relationship between distance running mechanics, running economy, and performance. J Appl Physiol. 1987;63(3):1236–45.
Biewener AA, Roberts TJ. Muscle and tendon contributions to force, work, and elastic energy savings: a comparative perspective. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2000;28(3):99–107.
Leveritt M, Abernethy PJ, Barry BK, Logan PA. Concurrent strength and endurance training. Sports Med. 1999;28(6):413–27.
Schulz KF, Altman DG, Moher D. CONSORT 2010 statement: updated guidelines for reporting parallel group randomised trials. BMC Med. 2010;8(1):18.
No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.
Conflict of interests
Danielle Trowell, Bill Vicenzino, Natalie Saunders, Aaron Fox and Jason Bonacci declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.
About this article
Cite this article
Trowell, D., Vicenzino, B., Saunders, N. et al. Effect of Strength Training on Biomechanical and Neuromuscular Variables in Distance Runners: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med 50, 133–150 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-019-01184-9