Weightlifting and powerlifting are typically very static sports and don’t require a huge amount of aerobic capacity yet it is common practice for a lot of eastern European/Asian weightlifting programmes to have some sort of low level cardiovascular activity (slow jogging as an example). Powerlifting being somewhat more of a western embraced sport isn’t so engaged with the conditioning aspect of training yet some great athletes such as Andrey Malanichev who claims to jog between 6000m to 8000m every Sunday clearly sees the worth in doing some form of lower level cardiovascular exercise. This isn’t even to mention the strength sport where conditioning is an active component to the successful athlete – strongman. So to address this we might need to come across some of the issues some strength athletes have with conditioning work.
Will cardio make me weaker?
The worst thing a strength athlete can do is get weaker it would make the point in training so hard almost worthless if the training you are doing will make you weaker. Some studies have shown that endurance exercise can interfere with strength and power adaptations.
- In 1980 Robert C Hickson produced one of the first studies that showed that concurrent endurance and strength training had a determenal effect on strength gains was published. In his study participant took part in strength training 5x per week and endurance training 6x a week. He found combining the two interfered with the participants ability to make strength gains.
- In 2003 K. Hakkinen re-visited the topic based off previous work they hypothesised that frequency of endurance training if low enough (2-3x per week) could allow for both strength and endurance to be training together with no loss of effect to strength. They showed that 2x endurance and 2x strength sessions per week endurance and strength could be improved without interference but power (rate of force development) was only improved in the strength only group.
- In 2014 S. Cantrell looked at the effects of concurrent sprint interval and strength training on maximal strength, power an aerobic endurance. They followed a 2x sprint training and 2x strength training pattern for strength and sprint training. They showed improvements in strength, power and Vo2max (aerobic capacity) with no interference using sprint interval training.
Take Home Lessons
- High frequency endurance exercise (>2x per week) will interfere with strength gains.
- Low frequency endurance exercise (2x per week) will not interfere with strength gains but may affect power development.
- Low frequency interval sprint work (2x per week) will allow for fitness improvements but not effect strength or power gains.
The rule of 75%
In some of the coach education work produced by Charlie Francis he advocates that sprinters or athletes perform their running conditioning work at an intensity under 75% of their maximal velocity as to not interfere with their maximal training. In some circles it is believed best practice to either train at <75% effort or at 9%%+ effort as anything in between doesn’t have a speed training benefit and can affect your recovery for your maximal speed work. Whilst this applies to running conditioning it still has a lot of good things that powerlifters, strongmen, throwers, rugby union or league players can use.
If you desire to become faster, stronger and more powerful your conditioning should not interfere with your primary goal it can even help you to recover from the more strenuous activities your do (lifting, events work, wrestling, sports training, sprint training etc).
Ways of using running to help build your aerobic endurance and base fitness.
Intensity of training
Below is a list of goal times for distances as long as you don’t dip below these times your intensity of running shouldn’t affect your recovery from strength, power and speed training.
(Click for full size chart of maximal goal times)
Frequency of training
As discussed before the use of high frequency condition training interferes with strength and power gains so we will limit these sessions to 2x per week (3x if you feel you want to sacrifice some strength and power progress to get in shape a bit faster).
Volume of training
This will be our main method of developing your aerobic fitness through running progressively longer volumes session to session we will be able to progress your fitness without the need to ramp up the intensity of effort. Since the aerobic endurance aspect to strength and power sports is reasonably minimal we will not run a huge volume of training.
Types of training.
We will use intervals to split up the efforts to keep the work rate and quality of movement higher and as seen in the previous discussion interval based sprint work has been shown to have little to no interference with strength and power development.
Session type – Tempo Runs and Repeats
Tempo Run – This is a repeated distance ran at the same pace with a rest time at the end of each interval it can be used to help develop running form as well as being a useful tool for running and aerobic fitness but allowing for more quality of work and fresher execution of the runs.
Repeats – Much more aerobically based this method sets a course of x distance that must be completed in a goal time with an equal rest time. Training at 1:1 (rest: recovery) this training method is much more continuous and requires more aerobic involvement.
4 Week running Programme to help build aerobic base of a strength and power athlete.
Note – Programme assumes a fairly basic level of conditioning to make it harder for a more conditioned athlete drop the rest times.
Session 1 – 2 sets of 10 80m Repeats 20 seconds completion time and 20 second rest time. 3 minutes rest between intervals
Volume – 1600m
Session 2 – 2 sets of 12 80m Repeats 20 seconds completion time and 20 second rest time. 3 minutes rest between intervals
Volume – 1920m
Session 1 – 3 sets of 8 80m Repeats 20 seconds completion time and 20 second rest time. 3 minutes rest between intervals
Volume – 2040m
Session 2 – 3 sets of 10 85m Repeats 20 seconds completion time and 20 second rest time. 3 minutes rest between intervals
Volume – 2550m
Session 1 – 3 sets of 10 85m Repeats 20 seconds completion time and 20 second rest time. 3 minutes rest between intervals
Volume – 2550m
Session 2 – 3 sets of 8 100m Tempo Runs – 60 seconds turn around use intensity chart for goal time. 3 minutes rest between intervals
Volume – 2400m
Session 1 – 2 sets of 10 80m Repeats 15 seconds completion time and 15 second rest time. 3 minutes rest between intervals
Volume – 1600m
Session 2 – 3 sets of 6 100m Tempo Runs – 40 seconds turn around use intensity chart for goal time. 3 minutes rest between intervals
Volume – 1800m volume
- A heavier athlete (120+ kg) may wish to consider a less impactful method of conditioning (bike, rower, swimming) and use the principals above to help guide your training. Stay below 75% of your maximal ability (Heart rate / strokes per minute / revs per minute etc) and build up your volume using a method similar to the one shown above.
- This kind of fitness is a base line and can be used by those who don’t require a lot of conditioning (static athletes) as their main conditioning or for more dynamic strength and power athletes as a spring board from which to go into more specific and demanding kinds of conditioning.
The basic level of conditioning for almost any activity is to have an aerobic base that can meet the demands of your sport this level is almost non-existent for static athletes (powerlifters and weightlifters) in competition but could potentially help with recovery between sets in training. For athletes in sports such as strongman, wrestling or rugby although there is a large lactic component to your sport you need an aerobic base from which you can better develop your sports specific conditioning optimally.
This method of training can help to bring up your fitness in relatively short order without eating into your recovery for your weight training and power training.