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PLoS One. 2016 Mar 8;11(3):e0150799. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150799. eCollection 2016.

Effects of Heavy Strength Training on Running Performance and Determinants of Running Performance in Female Endurance Athletes.

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Section for Sport Science, Lillehammer University College, Lillehammer, Norway.
Department of Physical Performance, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway.



The purpose of the current study was to investigate the effects of adding strength training to normal endurance training on running performance and running economy in well-trained female athletes. We hypothesized that the added strength training would improve performance and running economy through altered stiffness of the muscle-tendon complex of leg extensors.


Nineteen female endurance athletes [maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max): 53±3 ml∙kg-1∙min-1, 5.8 h weekly endurance training] were randomly assigned to either normal endurance training (E, n = 8) or normal endurance training combined with strength training (E+S, n = 11). The strength training consisted of four leg exercises [3 x 4-10 repetition maximum (RM)], twice a week for 11 weeks. Muscle strength, 40 min all-out running distance, running performance determinants and patellar tendon stiffness were measured before and after the intervention.


E+S increased 1RM in leg exercises (40 ± 15%) and maximal jumping height in counter movement jump (6 ± 6%) and squat jump (9 ± 7%, p < 0.05). This was accompanied by increased muscle fiber cross sectional area of both fiber type I (13 ± 7%) and fiber type II (31 ± 20%) in m. vastus lateralis (p < 0.05), with no change in capillary density in m. vastus lateralis or the stiffness of the patellar tendon. Neither E+S nor E changed running economy, fractional utilization of VO2max or VO2max. There were also no change in running distance during a 40 min all-out running test in neither of the groups.


Adding heavy strength training to endurance training did not affect 40 min all-out running performance or running economy compared to endurance training only.

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