For years I’ve been faced with a question to which I have yet to find the answer. The more I Iook for the answer, the louder I hear the question, and that is this:
Which do I love most, strength training or endurance training? Do I love lifting heavy stuff or spending hours running and biking? It’s as much of a question now as it’s ever been.
The truth is I love both activities. I love to lift weights and I love endurance activity. I can’t choose one. Periodically my interest swings more to one or the other but I have yet to find a way to de-emphasize one and specialize in the other. Why does this matter?
Concurrent training likely causes some conflict at the cellular level in terms of trying to achieve gains. That is, lifting a lot may interfere with endurance adaptations and significant endurance work my inhibit strength, power and muscle-growth adaptations.
From what I’ve come to understand, aerobic conditioning seems to inhibit gains in strength, power and muscular hypertrophy more so than the other way around. As regards endurance performance, carrying around extra muscle mass makes running and biking more difficult—especially when going uphill.
(Want to read more about this? StrengthandConditioning.com has a good discussion of research on the topic titled Should we avoid concurrent training to maximize hypertrophy?)
If nothing else, I often feel like a party of one. Sometimes it seems like I’m the only person who is enthusiastic about both lifting for five reps and under as well as suffering, sweating and panting for over an hour. I don’t meet many others who share my enjoyment of both types of activity.
Because of all of the above, I’m excited about an ebook from Juggernaut Training Systems called the Hybrid Athlete. I’ve been following a sample program from the book for a couple of weeks now and I’m enjoying it. I’m lifting more than I have in a while and at the same time I’m running, biking, and hiking a lot.
There are several different sample programs but it’s not a book of cookie cutter workout templates. The book discusses the underlying mechanisms at work during both strength and endurance training.
Most important, this book discusses recovery and the need to strategize lifting and endurance workouts. For someone trying to train hard on both ends of the exercise spectrum, managing recovery is crucial. Thus, there are ways to train for strength while resting the endurance systems and vice versa such that the athlete won’t be overwhelmed, burned out, and possibly injured. The Hybrid Athlete discusses all of this.
Finally, what makes me respect this work is that the writer, Alex Vada, has walked the walk. He’s competed in Ironman traithlons as well as put up impressive numbers in the power lifts. He’s relied on academic learning and experience in the gym, on the road, and in the pool to develop this book.