Save Your Strength!

programming recovery resistance training
Man doing deadlift exercise.

Learn How to Program Your Workouts to Save Your Strength! Avoid concurrent training effect (CTE).

Specific guidelines below -

If you are training athletes, you are an athlete or advanced fitness enthusiast, or you just want to protect your strength gains, you need to consider the risks of concurrent training. Concurrent training is simply doing both cardiovascular exercise and strength training within the same program. Most people do it; however, it comes with risks to strength gains and must be carefully programmed to protect hard fought strength and muscle mass gains.

The bottom line is that skeletal muscles know the difference between cardio and strength exercises, and they become confused when you do both too closely together. This is because strength and endurance training use different and competing physiological adaptive mechanisms. When they compete with one another, it can potentially eradicate strength gains.

The potential mechanisms of conflict between strength and endurance training at the muscle level are called interference phenomena, which simply means that adaptation mechanisms compete and interfere with one another during concurrent training. Endurance training reduces the quality and outcomes of strength training sessions. Proposed mechanisms include changes to muscle contractility in ways that counteract strength gains, the presence of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), substrate depletion and increased protein breakdown, and negative fluctuations in testosterone levels - all a direct result of endurance exercise. 

The mechanisms are still being explored, but the message is clear - if you want to build muscle mass and strength and protect those gains, you have to time both modes of exercise strategically to avoid interference.

What does that look like in real life?

1. Give muscles 48 hours to return to baseline strength after high-intensity resistance training.

2.  Wait an absolute minimum of 3 hours; however, preferably six up to 24 hours between cardiovascular endurance training and resistance training.

3. Cycle. Don't run. Cycling has less impact on interference than running. Also, there is a transference effect - lower body endurance training impacts upper body strength. Keep that in mind.

4. Do cardiovascular exercise t2 - 3 times per week.

5. Keep the intensity low to moderate.

6. Keep the time to 20 minutes.

7. Don't rest longer than 96 hours, unless injured or sick. Detraining kicks in.

To explore the latest on RT methods and earn PT CEUs, click here.


Ashmore, Amy. 2020. Timing Resistance Training: Programming the Muscle Clock for Optimal Performance. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL.

Author Biography

Amy Ashmore, Ph.D. holds a doctorate in Kinesiology from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a physical therapy continuing education provider located in Las Vegas, NV.


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