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The alternation of resistance and resistance training, known as Concurrent Training, has aroused a growing interest in the scientific community for a few years. The reason is twofold: on the one hand, there is evidence that properly planned concurrent training helps increase sports performance in certain specialties. On the other hand, until not too long ago, the recommendations on physical activity and health focused mainly on the suitability of practicing physical activity preferably of low intensity and long duration, known as resistance training, cardiovascular and, in a conceptual error, aerobic training. However, for some time now, different organizations and experts have recommended combining resistance training with strength training as the best way to maintain good health and functional status. Strength training and resistance training are both two fundamental pillars of recommendations for physical activity for adults by international organizations such as the WHO or the ACSM.
On the other hand, in most sports specialties it is necessary to train both resistance and strength in different manifestations, to improve performance. Even in endurance and ultra-resistance sports, the latest evidence suggests that correct strength training improves different aspects of endurance performance, such as running economy or speed in the last part of the test, debunking old arguments that said that strength training decreased resistance adaptations, and vice versa. Today we know that this is so, if the approach strategy is wrong, but if the training of these two capacities (concurrent training) is properly designed, your functional and performance level will be positively affected.
From a performance point of view, authors such as Paavolainen and collaborators already showed improvements over time in endurance tests when a part of resistance training was replaced by strength sessions, improving running economy and power without affecting VO2max. . And in a magnificent review of concurrent training, Wilson and colleagues captured in these two tables clear, useful, and summary information on the current state of knowledge about concurrent training:
In a very summary way, we could say that concurrent training offers many advantages over unidirectional training, as long as it is posed correctly. In summary:
- Combined (concurrent) strength and endurance training is more health-appropriate than resistance training alone.
- Concurrent training improves strength and power more than resistance training alone, without negative interference in cardiorespiratory performance. Contrary to what was proposed a few years ago, it seems that the best way to approach this training is with heavy loads and directed at maximum and explosive force.
- Concurrent training can lead to smaller increases in strength and hypertrophy than strength training alone, although in contrast, it produces greater improvements in body fat reduction.
- Although according to Wilson et al., This does not occur if resistance training is high intensity interval, being able to maintain strength and hypertrophy gains, accompanied by a development of resistance and an improvement in body composition.
- Concurrent bike training maintains strength, power, and hypertrophy adaptations better than concurrent running training.
- Concurrent running training achieves greater improvements in fat weight loss and VO2Max increases than concurrent cycling trainingSo it seems evident that we must develop specific methodological systematics to best combine the training of these two capacities.How to plan concurrent training?Basically, there are three main ways to do it, ordered from most suitable to least:
- The evidence suggests that the best way to approach concurrent training is to separate the days dedicated to endurance and the days dedicated to strength. In this way positive adaptations are maximized and interference is minimized.
- Another option is to separate both sessions within the same day. It seems that a minimum of six hours between sessions is advisable. Following this guideline, once again, training can be approached in different ways. Different authors, such as Robineau or Baar defend that the best way to do it is following this scheme:
- Perform resistance training in the morning
- Adequate post-workout carbohydrate replacement for afternoon training
- Carry out strength training at least 3 hours after the end of resistance training, although the ideal for optimal adaptation seems to be to separate them at least 6 hours.
- Eating leucine-rich protein (ideal whey) after strength training
- Una tercera opción normalmente motivada por la falta de tiempo para hacerlo de otra manera, es plantear las sesiones de fuerza y resistencia de forma seguida. Si optas por esta opción, ten en cuenta los siguientes puntos:
- As a main rule, first carry out the session that is a priority for you. If the main objective is strength, perform the strength session first. And vice versa.
- Another factor to consider is the intensity of each workout. For example, it is not a good idea to do maximum or explosive strength training after a resistance session, as fatigue will prevent the strength session from being beneficial. In these cases, in which one of the contents is of maximum intensity, it is also recommended to do it at the beginning, even if it is a secondary objective.
- As a curiosity, performing a strength session after a very light resistance session improves resistance adaptations more than an isolated resistance session.
- Obviously, if both sessions are followed, you should hydrate and replace carbohydrates properly during training, and opt for a protein-rich drink (preferably Whey) at the end of the second workout.