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Effects of Strength Training on the Physiological Determinants of Middle- and Long-Distance Running Performance: A Systematic Review

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Abstract

Background Middle- and long-distance running performance is constrained by several important aerobic and anaerobic parameters. The efficacy of strength training (ST) for distance runners has received considerable attention in the literature. However, to date, the results of these studies have not been fully synthesized in a review on the topic. Objectives This systematic review aimed to provide a comprehensive critical commentary on the current literature that has examined the effects of ST modalities on the physiological determinants and performance of middle- and long-distance runners, and offer recommendations for best practice. Methods Electronic databases were searched using a variety of key words relating to ST exercise and distance running. This search was supplemented with citation tracking. To be eligible for inclusion, a study was required to meet the following criteria: participants were middle- or long-distance runners with ≥ 6 months experience, a ST intervention (heavy resistance training, explosive resistance training, or plyometric training) lasting ≥ 4 weeks was applied, a running only control group was used, data on one or more physiological variables was reported. Two independent assessors deemed that 24 studies fully met the criteria for inclusion. Methodological rigor was assessed for each study using the PEDro scale. ResultsPEDro scores revealed internal validity of 4, 5, or 6 for the studies reviewed. Running economy (RE) was measured in 20 of the studies and generally showed improvements (2–8%) compared to a control group, although this was not always the case. Time trial (TT) performance (1.5–10 km) and anaerobic speed qualities also tended to improve following ST. Other parameters [maximal oxygen uptake (\(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{{2{ \hbox{max} }}}\)), velocity at \(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{{2{ \hbox{max} }}}\), blood lactate, body composition] were typically unaffected by ST. Conclusion Whilst there was good evidence that ST improves RE, TT, and sprint performance, this was not a consistent finding across all works that were reviewed. Several important methodological differences and limitations are highlighted, which may explain the discrepancies in findings and should be considered in future investigations in this area. Importantly for the distance runner, measures relating to body composition are not negatively impacted by a ST intervention. The addition of two to three ST sessions per week, which include a variety of ST modalities are likely to provide benefits to the performance of middle- and long-distance runners.
SYSTEMATIC REVIEW
Effects of Strength Training on the Physiological Determinants
of Middle- and Long-Distance Running Performance:
A Systematic Review
Richard C. Blagrove
1,2
Glyn Howatson
2,3
Philip R. Hayes
2
The Author(s) 2017. This article is an open access publication
Abstract
Background Middle- and long-distance running perfor-
mance is constrained by several important aerobic and
anaerobic parameters. The efficacy of strength training
(ST) for distance runners has received considerable atten-
tion in the literature. However, to date, the results of these
studies have not been fully synthesized in a review on the
topic.
Objectives This systematic review aimed to provide a
comprehensive critical commentary on the current litera-
ture that has examined the effects of ST modalities on the
physiological determinants and performance of middle-
and long-distance runners, and offer recommendations for
best practice.
Methods Electronic databases were searched using a
variety of key words relating to ST exercise and distance
running. This search was supplemented with citation
tracking. To be eligible for inclusion, a study was required
to meet the following criteria: participants were middle- or
long-distance runners with C6 months experience, a ST
intervention (heavy resistance training, explosive resis-
tance training, or plyometric training) lasting C4 weeks
was applied, a running only control group was used, data
on one or more physiological variables was reported. Two
independent assessors deemed that 24 studies fully met the
criteria for inclusion. Methodological rigor was assessed
for each study using the PEDro scale.
Results PEDro scores revealed internal validity of 4, 5, or
6 for the studies reviewed. Running economy (RE) was
measured in 20 of the studies and generally showed
improvements (2–8%) compared to a control group,
although this was not always the case. Time trial (TT)
performance (1.5–10 km) and anaerobic speed qualities
also tended to improve following ST. Other parameters
[maximal oxygen uptake (
_
VO2max), velocity at
_
VO2max,
blood lactate, body composition] were typically unaffected
by ST.
Conclusion Whilst there was good evidence that ST
improves RE, TT, and sprint performance, this was not a
consistent finding across all works that were reviewed.
Several important methodological differences and limita-
tions are highlighted, which may explain the discrepancies
in findings and should be considered in future investiga-
tions in this area. Importantly for the distance runner,
measures relating to body composition are not negatively
&Richard C. Blagrove
richard.blagrove@bcu.ac.uk
Glyn Howatson
glyn.howatson@nothumbria.ac.uk
Philip R. Hayes
phil.hayes@northumbria.ac.uk
1
Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences, School of
Health Sciences, Birmingham City University, City South
Campus, Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 3TN, UK
2
Division of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation, Faculty of
Health and Life Sciences, Northumbria University,
Northumberland Building, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 8ST,
UK
3
Water Research Group, Northwest University,
Potchefstroom, South Africa
123
Sports Med
https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0835-7
impacted by a ST intervention. The addition of two to three
ST sessions per week, which include a variety of ST
modalities are likely to provide benefits to the performance
of middle- and long-distance runners.
Key Points
Strength training (ST) appears to provide benefits to
running economy, time trial performance and
maximal sprint speed in middle- and long-distance
runners of all abilities
Maximal oxygen uptake, blood lactate parameters,
and body composition appear to be unaffected by the
addition of ST to a distance runner’s program
Adding ST, in the form of heavy resistance training,
explosive resistance training, and plyometric training
performed, on 2–3 occasions per week is likely to
positively affect performance.
1 Introduction
Distance running performance is the consequence of a
complex interaction of physiological, biomechanical, psy-
chological, environmental, and tactical factors. From a
physiological perspective, the classic model [1,2] identi-
fies three main parameters that largely influence perfor-
mance: maximal oxygen uptake (
_
VO2max), running
economy (RE), and fractional utilization (sustainable per-
centage of
_
VO2max). Collectively, these determinants are
capable of predicting 16 km performance with more than
95% accuracy in well-trained runners [3]. The velocity
associated with
_
VO2max (v
_
VO2max) also provides a com-
posite measure of
_
VO2max and RE, and has been used to
explain differences in performance amongst trained dis-
tance runners [3,4]. Whilst
_
VO2max values differ little in
homogenous groups of distance runners, RE displays a
high degree of interindividual variability [5,6]. Defined as
the oxygen or energy cost of sustaining a given sub-max-
imal running velocity, RE is underpinned by a variety of
anthropometric, physiological, biomechanical, and neuro-
muscular factors [7]. Traditionally, chronic periods of
running training have been used to enhance RE [8,9];
however, novel approaches such as strength training (ST)
modalities have also been shown to elicit improvements
[10].
For middle-distance (800–3000 m) runners, cardiovas-
cular-related parameters associated with aerobic energy
production can explain a large proportion of the variance in
performance [1117]. However a large contribution is also
derived from anaerobic sources of energy [14,18].
Anaerobic capabilities can explain differences in physio-
logical profiles between middle- and longer-distance run-
ners [14] and are more sensitive to discriminating
performance in groups of elite middle-distance runners
than traditional aerobic parameters [19]. Anaerobic
capacity and event-specific muscular power factors, such as
v
_
VO2max and the velocity achieved during a maximal
anaerobic running test (vMART) have also been proposed
as limiting factors for distance runners [12,20,21]. For an
800-m runner in particular, near-maximal velocities of
running are reached during the first 200 m of the race [22],
which necessitate a high capacity of the neuromuscular and
anaerobic system.
Both RE and anaerobic factors, (i.e., speed, anaerobic
capacity and vMART) rely on the generation of rapid force
during ground contact when running [23,24]. Programs of
ST provide an overload to the neuromuscular system,
which improves motor unit recruitment, firing frequency,
musculotendinous stiffness, and intramuscular co-ordina-
tion, and therefore potentially provides distance runners
with a strategy to enhance their RE and event-specific
muscular power factors [19]. In addition, an improvement
in force-generating capacity would theoretically allow
athletes to sustain a lower percentage of maximal strength,
thereby reducing anaerobic energy contribution [25]. This
reduction in relative effort may therefore reduce RE and
blood lactate (BL) concentration. As v
_
VO2maxis a function
of RE,
_
VO2max and anaerobic power factors, it would also
be expected to show improvements following an ST
intervention. Several recent reviews in this area have pro-
vided compelling evidence that a short-term ST interven-
tion is likely to enhance RE [10,26], in the order of *4%
[10]. Whilst these reviews have provided valuable insight
into how ST specifically impacts RE, studies also typically
measure other important aerobic and anaerobic determi-
nants of distance running performance, which have not
previously been fully synthesized in a review. Body com-
position also appears to be an important determinant of
distance running performance, with low body mass con-
ferring an advantage [27,28]. Resistance training (RT) is
generally associated with a hypertrophic response [29];
however, this is known to be attenuated when RT and
endurance training are performed concurrently within the
same program [30]. Changes in body composition as a
consequence of ST in distance runners have yet to be fully
addressed in reviews on this topic.
R. C. Blagrove et al.
123
There are also a number of recent publications [3138]
that have not been captured in previous reviews [10,26]on
this topic, which potentially provide valuable additional
insight into the area. Previous papers that have reviewed
the impact of ST modalities on distance running perfor-
mance have done so alongside other endurance sports
[23,39] or are somewhat outdated [4042]. Furthermore,
although improvements in RE would likely confer a benefit
to distance running performance, the outcomes from
studies that have used time trials have not been compre-
hensively reviewed. Performance-related outcome mea-
sures provide high levels of external validity compared to
physiological parameters, therefore it is likely that a col-
lective summary of results would be of considerable
interest to coaches and athletes.
Consequently the aim of this review was to systemati-
cally analyze the evidence surrounding the use of ST on
distance running parameters that includes both aerobic and
anaerobic qualities, in addition to body composition and
performance-related outcomes. This work also provides a
forensic, critical evaluation that, unlike previous work,
highlights areas that future investigations should address to
improve methodological rigor, such as ensuring valid
measurement of physiological parameters and maximizing
control over potential confounding factors.
2 Methods
2.1 Literature Search Strategy
The PRISMA statement [43] was used as a basis for the
procedures described herein. Electronic database searches
were carried out in Pubmed, SPORTDiscus, and Web of
Science using the following search terms and Boolean
operators: (‘‘strength training’’ OR ‘‘resistance training’
OR ‘‘weight training’’ OR ‘‘weight lifting’’ OR ‘‘plyo-
metric training’’ OR ‘‘concurrent training’’) AND (‘‘dis-
tance running’’ OR ‘‘endurance running’’ OR ‘‘distance
runners’’ OR ‘‘endurance runners’’ OR ‘‘middle distance
runners’’) AND (‘‘anaerobic’’ OR ‘‘sprint’’ OR ‘‘speed’
OR ‘‘performance’’ OR ‘‘time’’ OR ‘‘economy’ OR ‘‘en-
ergy cost’’ OR ‘‘lactate’’ OR ‘‘maximal oxygen uptake’
OR ‘
_
VO2max’’ OR ‘‘aerobic’’ OR ‘‘time trial’’). Searches
were limited to papers published in English and from 1
January 1980 to 6 October 2017.
2.2 Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria
For a study to be eligible, each of the following inclusion
criteria were met:
Participants were middle- (800–3000 m) or long-dis-
tance runners (5000 m–ultra-distance). Studies using
triathletes and duathletes were also included because
often these participants possess similar physiology to
distance runners and complete similar volumes of
running training.
A ST intervention was applied. This was defined as
heavy (less than 9 repetition maximum (RM) loads and/
or 80% of 1RM) or isometric resistance training (HRT),
moderate load (9–15 RM and/or 60–80% 1RM) RT,
explosive resistance training (ERT), reactive ST or
plyometric training (PT). Sprint training (SpT) could be
used in conjunction with one or more of the above ST
methods, but not exclusively as the only intervention
activity.
The intervention period lasted 4 weeks or longer. This
criteria was employed as neuromuscular adaptations
have been observed in as little as 4 weeks in non-
strength trained individuals [44,45].
A running only control group was used that adopted
similar running training to the intervention group(s).
Data on one or more of the following physiological
parameters was reported:
_
VO2max, RE, velocity associ-
ated with v
_
VO2max, time trial (TT) performance, time to
exhaustion (TTE), BL response, anaerobic capacity,
maximal speed, measures of body composition.
Published in full in a peer-reviewed journal.
Studies were excluded if any of the following criteria
applied:
Participants were non-runners (e.g., students, untrai-
ned/less than 6 months running experience). Further
restrictions were not placed upon experience/training
status.
The running training and/or ST intervention was poorly
controlled and/or reported.
The intervention involved only SpT or was embedded
as part of running training sessions.
Participants were reported to be in poor health or
symptomatic.
Ergogenic aids were used as part of the intervention.
Using the mean
_
VO2max values provided within each
study, participants training status was considered as mod-
erately-trained (male
_
VO2max B55 ml kg
-1
min
-1
), well-
trained (male
_
VO2max 55–65 ml kg
-1
min
-1
), or highly-
trained (male
_
VO2max C65 ml kg
-1
min
-1
)[10,46]. For
female participants, the
_
VO2max thresholds were set
10 ml kg
-1
min
-1
lower [46]). In the absence of
_
VO2max
values, training status was based upon the training or
competitive level of the participants: moderately-
trained =recreational or local club, well-
Effects of Strength Training on Distance Running
123
trained =Collegiate or provincial, highly-trained =na-
tional or international.
2.3 Study Selection
Figure 1provides a visual overview of the study selection
process. Search results were imported into a published software
for systematic reviews [47], which allowed a blind screening
process to be performed by two independent reviewers (RB and
PH). Any disagreements were resolved by consensus. The
initial search yielded 454 publications. Following the removal
of duplicates (n=190), publications were filtered by reading
the title and abstract [inter-rater reliability (IRR): 95.3%,
Cohens k=0.86] leaving 19 review articles or commentaries,
and 47 potentially relevant papers, which were given full con-
sideration. Five additional records were identified as being
potentially relevant via manual searches of previously
published reviews on this topic and the individual study cita-
tions. These 52 studies were considered in detail for appropri-
ateness, resulting in a further 26 papers [34,37,4871]being
excluded (IRR: 94.2%, Cohens k=0.88) for the following
reasons: not published in full in a peer-reviewed journal
[50,52,60,61], absence of a running only control group
[48,49,54,57,59,6267,69], participants were non-runners
[51,53,56,68], no physiological parameters were measured
[55], dissimilar running training was applied between groups
[71], the ST intervention was poorly controlled [54], and ST did
not involve one of the aforementioned types [34,37,58,70].
2.4 Analysis of Results
The Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) scale was
subsequently used to assess the quality of the remaining 26
records [3133,36,38,7292] by the two independent
reviewers. Two studies reported their results across two
papers [32,38,90,92], therefore both are considered as
single studies hereafter, thus a total of 24 studies were
analyzed. The PEDro scale is a tool recommended for
assessing the quality of evidence when systematically
reviewing randomized-controlled trials [93]. Each paper is
scrutinized against 11 items relating to the scientific rigor
of the methodology, with items 2–11 being scored 0 or 1.
Papers are therefore awarded a rating from 0 to 10
depending upon the number of items which the study
methodology satisfies (10 =study possesses excellent
internal validity, 0 =study has poor internal validity). No
studies were not excluded based upon their PEDro scale
score and IRR was excellent (93.2%, Cohens k=0.86).
Results are summarized as a percentage change and the p
value for variables relating to: strength outcomes, RE,
_
VO2max,v
_
VO2max, BL response, time trial, anaerobic per-
formance, and body composition. Due to the heterogeneity
of outcome measures in the included studies and the limi-
tations associated with conditional probability, where pos-
sible, an effect size (ES) statistic (Cohens d) is also provided.
Effect size values are based upon those reported in the studies
or were calculated using the ratio between the change score
(post-intervention value minus pre-intervention value) and a
pooled standard deviation at baseline for intervention and
control groups. Values are interpreted as trivial\0.2; small
0.2–0.6; moderate 0.6–1.2; and large[1.2.
3 Results
3.1 Participant Characteristics
A summary of the participant characteristics for the 24
studies which met the criteria for inclusion in this review is
presented in Table 1. A total of 469 participants (male
Fig. 1 Search, screening and selection process for suitable studies
R. C. Blagrove et al.
123
Table 1 Participant characteristics and design of each study
Study Participant characteristics Study design
n(I/C) Sex Age (years) _
VO2max
(mL kg
-1
min
-1
)
Training background (event
specialism)
Duration
(weeks)
Randomized? Running
controlled?
ST added or
replace
running?
PEDro
score
Albracht &
Arampatzis
[84]
26 (13/13) MI=27,
C=25
Recreational (C3 runs wk
-1
,
30–120 km wk
-1
)
14 No No Added 5
Beattie et al.
[33]
20 (11/9) M=19
F=1
I=29.5,
C=27.4
I=59.6,
C=63.2
Collegiate and national level
(1500 m–10 km)
40 No No Added 4
Berryman
et al. [80]
28 (HRT
n=12, PT
n=11, C
n=5)
MHRT =31,
PT =29,
C=29
HRT =57.5,
PT =57.5,
C=55.7
3–7 runs wk
-1
. Provincial
level (5 km–marathon)
8 Yes Yes Added 5
Bertuzzi et al.
[85]
22 (RT
WBV
n=8, RT
n=8, C
n=6)
MRT
WBV
=34,
RT =31,
C=33
RT
WBV
=56.3,
RT =57.4,
C=56.1
Local 10 km (35–45 min)
race competitors
6 Yes No
(monitored)
Added 6
Bonacci et al.
[83]
8 (3/5) M=5
F=3
21.6 Moderately-trained triathletes
(34.8 km wk
-1
)
8 Yes No
(monitored)
Added 5
Damasceno
et al. [89]
18 (9/9) MI=34.1,
C=32.9
I=54.3,
C=55.8
Local 10 km (35–45 min)
race competitors
8 Yes No
(monitored)
Added 6
Ferrauti et al.
[81]
20 (11/9) M=14
F=6
40.0 I=52.0,
C=51.1
Experienced (8.7 years)
recreational (4.6 h wk
-1
)
8 Yes No
(monitored)
Added 6
Fletcher et al.
[82]
12 (6/6) MI=22.2,
C=26.3
I=67.3,
C=67.6
Regional/national/
international level (1500 m–
marathon)
8 Yes No Added 6
Giovanelli
et al. [36]
25 (13/12) MI=36.3,
C=40.3
I=55.2,
C=55.6
Experienced
(11.7 years,[60 km wk
-1
)
ultra-distance competitors
12 Yes No
(monitored)
Added 6
Johnston
et al. [72]
12 (6/6) F30.3 I=50.5,
C=51.5
[1 year experience, 20–30
miles wk
-1
, 4–5 days wk
-1
10 Yes No
(monitored)
Added 6
Karsten et al.
[31]
16 (8/8) M=11F=5I=39,
C=30
I=47.3,
C=47.0
Recreational triathletes
([2 years, 3–5 days wk
-1
,
180–300 min wk
-1
)
6 Yes No Added 6
Mikkola et al.
[78]
25 (13/12) M=18
F=7
I=17.3,
C=17.3
I=62.4,
C=61.8
High-school runners
([2 years)
8No No
(monitored)
Replace (I:
19%, C: 4%)
4
Millet et al.
[74]
15 (7/8) MI=24.3,
C=21.4
I=69.7,
C=67.6
Experienced (6.8 years)
triathletes (n=7 national/
international)
14 Yes No
(monitored)
Added 6
Effects of Strength Training on Distance Running
123
Table 1 continued
Study Participant characteristics Study design
n(I/C) Sex Age (years) _
VO2max
(mL kg
-1
min
-1
)
Training background (event
specialism)
Duration
(weeks)
Randomized? Running
controlled?
ST added or
replace
running?
PEDro
score
Paavolainen
et al. [73]
18 (10/8) MI=23,
C=24
I=63.7,
C=65.1
Experienced (8 years) cross-
country runners
(545 h year
-1
)
9 Unclear
(matched on
_
VO2max and
5 km)
Yes Replace (I:
32%, C: 3%)
4
Pellegrino
et al. [91]
22 (11/11) M=14
F=8
I=34.2,
C=32.5
I=48.0,
C=47.7
Experienced recreational
(local clubs and races)
6 Yes No Added 6
Piacentini
et al. [86]
16 (HRT
n=6, RT
n=5, C
n=5)
M=6
F=4
HRT =44.2
RT =44.8
C=43.2
Local ([5 years,
4–5 days wk
-1
) masters
runners (10 km – marathon)
6 Yes No Added 4
Ramı
´rez-
Campillo
et al. [87]
32 (17/15) M=9
F=13
22.1 – National/international
competitive level (1500 m –
marathon)
6 Yes No
(monitored)
Added 6
Saunders
et al. [77]
15 (7/8) MI=23.4,
C=24.9
I=67.7,
C=70.4
National/international
competitive level (3 km)
9 Yes No
(monitored)
Added (but C
matched
with
stretching/
CS)
6
Schumann
et al.
[90,92]
27 (13/14) M 33 Recreational
([12 months; C2
runs wk
-1
)
24 Unclear
(matched by
performance)
Yes Added 5
Skovgaard
et al. [88]
21 (12/9) M31.1 59.4 Experienced (7.5 years)
recreational (29.7 km wk
-1
,
3.3 runs wk
-1
)
8 Yes Yes (I only) Replace (I:
42%)
6
Spurrs et al.
[75]
17 (8/9) M25 I=57.6,
C=57.8
Experienced (10 years);
60–80 km wk
-1
6 Yes No
(monitored)
Added 6
Støren et al.
[79]
17 (8/9) M=9
F=8
I=28.6,
C=29.7
I=61.4,
C=56.5
Well-trained (5 km:
M=18.42, F=19.23)
8 Yes No
(monitored)
Added 6
Turner et al.
[76]
18 (10/8) M=8
F=10
I=31,
C=27
I=50.4,
C=54.0
Basic training
([6 months; C3
runs wk
-1
)
6 Yes No
(monitored)
Added 6
Vikmoen
et al.
[32,38]
19 (11/8) FI=31.5,
C=34.9
53.3 Well-trained (duathletes) 11 Yes Yes Added 5
Ccontrol group, CS core stability, Ffemale, hhours, HRT heavy resistance training, Iintervention group, Mmale, PT plyometric training, RT resistance training, RT
WBV
resistance training with
whole body vibration,
_
VO2max maximal oxygen uptake, wk week
R. C. Blagrove et al.
123
n=352, female n=96) are included, aged between 17.3
and 44.8 years. Maximal oxygen uptake data was reported
for all but five studies [83,84,86,87,90,92] and ranged
from 47.0 to 70.4 mL kg
-1
min
-1
. Based upon weighted
mean values in the studies that reported participant char-
acteristics for each group, age (30.2 vs. 29.0 years), body
mass (68.1 vs. 70.0 kg), height (1.74 vs. 1.74 m), and
_
VO2max (57.3 vs. 57.7 mL kg
-1
min
-1
) appeared to differ
little at baseline for ST groups and control groups respec-
tively. Moderately trained or recreational level runners
were used in nine studies [31,72,76,81,83,84,86,
9092], well-trained participants in ten studies [32,33,
36,38,73,75,79,80,85,88,89], and highly-trained or
national/international runners were used in four studies
[74,77,82,87]. National caliber junior runners were also
used in one investigation [78]. Participants took part or
competed in events ranging from the middle-distances to
ultra-marathons, and several studies used triathletes
[31,74,83] or duathletes [32,38].
3.2 Study Design and PEDro Scores
Table 1also provides an overview of several important
features of study design, including PEDro scale scores.
Studies lasted 6–14 weeks with the exception of two
investigations, which lasted 24 [90,92] and 40 weeks [33].
Fourteen studies provided detailed accounts of the running
training undertaken by the participants. However, these
were usually reported from monitoring records, thus only
three studies were deemed to have appropriately controlled
for the volume and intensity of running in both groups
[32,38,73,80,90,92]. Six studies provided little or no
detail on the running training that participants performed
[31,33,82,84,86,91]. Strength training in all but three
investigations [73,78,88] was supplementary to running
training, and one paper provided the control group with
alternative activities (stretching and core stability) matched
for training time [77].
Studies were all scored a 4, 5, or 6 on the PEDro scale.
All investigations had points deducted for items relating to
blinding of participants, therapists, and assessors. Differ-
ences in the scores awarded were mainly the result of
studies not randomly allocating participants to groups and
failing to obtain data for more than 85% of participants
initially allocated to groups; or this information not being
explicitly stated.
3.3 Training Programs
Table 2provides a summary of the training characteristics
associated with the ST intervention and running training
used concurrently as part of the study period. The ST
activities used were RT or HRT [31,32,38,72,
78,79,81,82,8486,89], PT [75,76,80,87,91], ERT
[80], or a combination of these methods [33,36,77,
83,90,92], which in some cases also included SpT
[73,74,88].
All studies utilized at least one multi-joint, closed
kinetic chain exercise with the exception of two studies that
used isometric contractions on the ankle plantarflexors
[82,84]. One study employed only resistance machine
exercises for lower limb HRT [81], whereas all other
studies used free weights, bodyweight resistance or a
combination of machines and free weights. Strength
training (using lower limb musculature) was scheduled
once [33,80,81], twice [3133,38,75,78,8587,
89,90,92], three times [36,72,7477,79,82,83,88], or
four times [84] per week. One study used 15 sessions over
a 6-week period [91] and one study reported 2.7 h of ST
activity per week [73].
Heavy RT was typically prescribed in 2–6 sets of 3–10
repetitions per exercise at relatively heavy loads (higher
than 70% 1RM or to repetition failure). Plyometric training
prescription consisted of 1–6 exercises performed over 1–6
sets of 4–10 repetitions, totaling 30–228 foot contacts per
session. Most studies applied the principle of progressive
overload and some authors reported periodized models for
the intervention period [32,33,36,38,77,88,89]. Studies
which included SpT tended to utilize short distances
(20–150 m), over 4–12 sets at maximal intensity
[73,74,88]. Strength training was supervised or part-su-
pervised across all studies with the exception of three, one
that was unsupervised [76] and two where it was unclear
from the report [73,74].
Running training varied considerably (16–170 km
week
-1
, 3–9 sessions week
-1
) across the studies, with
various levels of detail provided regarding weekly volume
and intensity. Importantly, all studies that added ST
reported that running training did not differ between
groups.
3.4 Strength Outcomes
All but two studies [31,83] measured at least one strength-
related parameter (Table 3). Across all studies that used
1RM testing [33,72,74,78,79,85,86,8890,92], the
intervention produced a statistically significant improve-
ment (4–33%, ES: 0.7–2.4). Maximal voluntary contraction
(MVC) was also used to assess strength capacity in seven
papers, with the majority reporting improved (7–34%, ES:
0.38–1.65) scores following ST [73,75,78,81,84] but
others reporting no difference compared to a control group
[81,82,90,92]. Performance on a jump test was shown to
improve (3–9%, ES: 0.25–0.65) in some studies
[32,73,74,80,87]; however, other studies showed no
Effects of Strength Training on Distance Running
123
Table 2 Intervention and running training variables
Study Intervention
type
Main exercises Frequency Volume per session Intensity ST
supervised?
Recovery between
sessions
Running training
Albracht &
Arampatzis
[84]
HRT
(isometric)
Ankle plantarflexion
(5
dorsiflexion,
knee extended, 40
hip flexion)
4 per week 4 sets 94 reps (3 s loading,
3 s relaxation)
90% MVC
(adjusted
weekly)
Yes I: 66 km wk
-1
C: 62 km wk
-1
Beattie et al.
[33]
HRT/ERT/
PT
PT: pogo jumps,
depth jumps, CMJ
HRT: back squat,
RDL, lunge
ERT: jump squats
Wk 1–20: 2
per week;
Wk 21–40:
1 per week
9–12 sets (2–3 sets per
exercise); PT: 4–5 reps,
HRT: 3–8 reps, ERT: 3
reps
Load progressed
when
competent
Yes C48 h between
sessions (wk
1–20). Separate
session to
running
Not reported (usual running
training)
Berryman
et al. [80]
ERT and PT ERT: concentric
squats
PT: DJ
1 per week ERT and PT: 3–6 sets 98
reps
ERT:[95% PPO
PT: 20–60 cm so
rebound[95%
CMJ
Yes 2 9AIT (1 9peak speed,
1980% peak speed)
19LSD (30–60 min)
Bertuzzi et al.
[85]
RT and
RT
WBV
Half-squats 2 per week 3–6 sets 94–10 reps
periodized
70–100% 1RM
over 12 wk
Yes Different days to
runs
57–61 km wk
-1
Bonacci et al.
[83]
PT/ERT PT: CMJ, knee lifts,
ankle jumps,
bounds, skips,
hurdle jumps
ERT: Squat jumps,
back ext.,
hamstring curls
3 per week PT: 1–5 sets 95–10 reps or
20–30 m
RT: 2–5 sets 98–15 reps
Max height/fast
velocity
Yes Same as previous 3 months. I:
swim (7.3 km), cycle
(137.6 km), run (34.8 km)
C: swim (10.1 km), cycle
(147.5 km), run (29.0 km)
Damasceno
et al. [89]
HRT Half-squat, leg press,
calf raise, knee ext
2 per week 2–3 sets 93–10 reps 10RM periodized
to 3RM
Yes 72 h between
HRT sessions.
Different days to
runs
36–41 km wk
-1
@50–70%
_
VO2max
Ferrauti et al.
[81]
HRT Machines: leg press,
knee ext., knee
flexion, hip ext.,
ankle ext.; UB
exercises
1 per week
LB; 1 per
week UB
LB: 4 sets 93–5 reps 3–5 RM Yes I: 240 min wk
-1
,C:
276 min wk
-1
Fletcher et al.
[82]
HRT
(isometric)
Plantarflexions 3 per week 4 sets 920 s 80% MVC Yes 70–170 km wk
-1
R. C. Blagrove et al.
123
Table 2 continued
Study Intervention
type
Main exercises Frequency Volume per session Intensity ST
supervised?
Recovery between
sessions
Running training
Giovanelli
et al. [36]
CS/RT
(4wk)
HRT/ERT/
PT (8wk)
CS: 6 exercises (e.g.,
planks)
RT/HRT: single leg
half-squat, step-up,
lunges
ERT: CMJ, split
squat
PT: jump rope, high
knees
3 per week 5–8 exercises, 1–3
sets 96–15 reps (30 s rest)
Partly (only
wk 1 and
2)
C48 h between
sessions. Not
day after races/
AIT
I: normal running training
C: 70–140 km wk
-1
, 5–7
sessions wk
-1
Johnston
et al. [72]
HRT Squats, lunge, heel
raises (straight- and
bent-leg), knee
ext./flexion, 8xUB
exercises
3 per week 3 sets 96 reps squat and
lunge; 2 sets 920/12 reps
bent–/straight–leg heel
raise; 3 sets 98 reps knee
ext./flexion
RM each set Yes C48 h between
HRT
sessions. C5h
between HRT
and running
sessions.
4–5 days wk
-1
,
32–48 km wk
-1
Karsten et al.
[31]
HRT RDL, squat, calf
raises, lunges
2 per week 4 sets 94 reps 80% 1RM Yes C48 h between
HRT sessions.
3–5 sessions/
180–300 min wk
-1
Mikkola et al.
[78]
HRT Hamstring curl, leg
press, seated press,
squat, leg ext., heel
raise
2 per week 3–5 sets 93–5 reps [90% 1RM
(reassessed
every 3 wk)
Yes Separate session
to running
Total: I=7hwk
-1
,
C=6.6 h wk
-1
;
Running: I=48 km wk
-1
,
C=44 km wk
-1
Millet et al.
[74]
SpT/PT/
ERT
PT: alternative, calf,
squat, hurdle jumps
ERT: Squat, calf
raise, hurdle jump,
leg ext./curl
3 per week
(each
intervention
type once)
SpT: 5–10 sets 930–150 m
PT/ERT: 2–3 sets 96–10
reps
PT: BW
ERT: low load,
high velocity
Unclear – I: 8.8 h wk
-1
,
C: 8.5 h wk
-1
Paavolainen
et al. [73]
SpT/PT/
ERT
PT: alternative, drop
and hurdle jumps,
CMJ, hops
ERT: leg press, knee
ext. and flexion
Not reported;
2.7 h per
week
SpT: 5–10 sets 920–100 m
PT/ERT: 5–20 reps.set
-1
/
30–200 reps.session
-1
PT: BW or
barbell
ERT: 0–40%
1RM
Unclear – I: 8.4 h wk
-1
(9 sessions) C: 9.2 h wk
-1
(8
sessions)
Pellegrino
et al. [91]
PT Modified version of
Spurrs et al.
(jumps, bounds,
hops)
15 sessions
total
60–228 foot contacts Progressively
increased
Yes I: 34.4–36.2 km wk
-1
C: 29.5–31.3 km wk
-1
Piacentini
et al. [86]
HRT and RT Squat, calf press,
lunges, eccentric
quad, calf raise, leg
press ?UB
exercises
2 per week HRT: 4 sets 93–4 reps
RT: 3 sets 910 reps
HRT: 85–90%
1RM
RT: 70% 1RM
Yes 4–5 days wk
-1
,50kmwk
-1
Effects of Strength Training on Distance Running
123
Table 2 continued
Study Intervention
type
Main exercises Frequency Volume per session Intensity ST
supervised?
Recovery between
sessions
Running training
Ramı
´rez-
Campillo
et al. [87]
PT DJ 2 per week 60 contacts (6 sets 910
reps)
20 reps @20 cm,
20 reps
@40 cm, 20
reps @60 cm
Yes C48 h between
PT sessions.
Performed
before runs.
I: 64.7 km.wk
-1
C: 70.0 km.wk
-1
(AIT
preferred)
Saunders
et al. [77]
PT/HRT PT: CMJ, ankle
jumps, bounds,
skips, hurdle
jumps, scissor
jumps
HRT: back ext., leg
press, hamstring
curls
3 per week PT: Progress from 1 to 6
sets 96–10 reps/10–30 m
HRT: 1–5 sets 96–10 reps
(except back ext.)
PT: fast GCT
HRT: Leg press
60% 1RM
Yes 107 km.wk
-1
(3x AIT,
19LSD 60–150 min,
39LSD 30–60 min,
3–6 9LSD 20–40 min)
Schumann
et al.
[90,92]
HRT/ERT/
PT
HRT: leg press, knee
flexion, calf raise
?UB/core
exercises
ERT: Squat jumps,
step-ups
PT: Drop jumps,
hurdle jumps
2 per week HRT (wk 5–24): 5–12 reps
per set
HRT (wk 5–24):
60–85% 1RM
ERT: 20–30%
1RM
Yes Same session as
running.
[48 h between
sessions
Weekly: 2x run (35–45 min/
65–85% HR
max
), 2 9LSD
(35–40 min & 70–125 min/
60–65% HR
max
),
1–2 9AIT and HIIT
Skovgaard
et al. [88]
SpT/HRT HRT: squat, deadlift,
leg press
SpT 92 per
week
HRT 91 per
week
SpT: 4–12 sets 930 s
(3 min rest)
HRT: 3–4 sets 96–8 reps
wk 1–4; 4 sets 94 reps wk
5–8
SpT: maximal
effort
HRT: 15RM to
8RM wk 1–4;
4RM wk 5–8
Yes 3–4 d between
SpT/HRT
sessions.
Different days to
runs
I: AIT (4 94?2 min @85%
HR
max
); 50 min @75–85%
HR
max
C: 40 km total (4 km AIT)
Spurrs et al.
[75]
PT Jumps, bounds, hops 2–3 per week 60–180 foot contacts Bilateral
progressed to
unilateral and
greater height
Yes Separate session
to running
60–80 km per week
Støren et al.
[79]
HRT Half-squats 3 per week 4 sets 94 reps 4RM Yes I: 253 min wk
-1
(?119 min
other ET)
C: 154 min wk
-1
(?120 min
other ET)
Turner et al.
[76]
PT Vertical jumps and
hops (continuous
and intermittent),
split jumps, uphill
jumps
3 per week 40–110 foot contacts (5–30 s
per exercise)
Bodyweight,
short contact
time
No
(logbooks)
Performed in
running sessions
Continued regular running
(C3 runs wk
-1
,C10
miles wk
-1
)
R. C. Blagrove et al.
123
change compared to a control group [33,7678,9092]
and in one study the control group improved to a greater
extent than the intervention group [86]. Changes in an
ability to produce force rapidly also showed mixed results,
with some studies showing improvements in peak power
output [80] and rate of force development [78,79] and
others showing no change in these parameters [36,75,77].
Similarly, stiffness, when measured directly or indirectly
(using reactive strength index) during non-running tasks,
has been shown to improve (ES: 0.43–0.90) [75,84,86,87]
and remain unchanged [33,74,89] following ST. Vertical
or leg stiffness during running showed improvements
(10%, ES: 0.33) at relatively slow speeds [36] and also at
3 km race pace (ES: 1.2) following ST [74].
3.5 Running Economy
An assessment of RE was included in all but four
[31,85,87,90,92] of the studies in this review (Table 3).
Running economy was quantified as the oxygen cost of
running at a given speed in every case, except in three
studies where a calculation of energy cost was used
[82,84,91]. Statistically significant improvements (2–8%,
ES: 0.14–3.22) in RE were observed for at least one speed
in 14 papers. A single measure of RE was reported in four
of these papers [31,79,80,88], and a further four studies
assessed RE across multiple different speeds and found
improvements across all measures taken [72,74,75,84].
Six papers reported a mixture of significant and non-sig-
nificant results from the intensities they used to evaluate
RE [36,73,7678,86]. Six studies failed to show any
significant improvements in RE compared to a control
group [32,8183,89,91].
3.6 Maximal Oxygen Uptake
No statistically significant changes were reported in
_
VO2max or
_
VO2peak for any group in the majority of studies
that assessed this parameter [31,32,36,72,74,75,
7780,85,88,89]. Three papers observed improvements
for
_
VO2max in the intervention group, but the change in
score did not differ significantly from that of the control
group [33,81,91]. One study detected a significant
improvement (4.9%) in
_
VO2max for the control group
compared to the intervention group [73].
3.7 Velocity Associated with
_
VO2max
Nine studies provided data on v
_
VO2max or a similar metric
[3133,36,74,78,80,85,89]. Just two of these papers
reported statistically significant improvements (3–4%, ES:
0.42–0.49) in the ST group compared to the control group
Table 2 continued
Study Intervention
type
Main exercises Frequency Volume per session Intensity ST
supervised?
Recovery between
sessions
Running training
Vikmoen
et al.
[32,38]
HRT Machines: Half-
squats, unilateral
leg press, cable hip
flexion, calf raises
2 per week 3 sets 94–10 reps
(periodized 3wk cycles)
Sets performed to
RM failure
Partly (1
session
per wk
3–11)
HRT first session
or performed on
different days
4.3 sessions wk
-1
; 3.7 h
@60–82% HR
max
, 1.1 h
@83–87% HR
max
, 0.8 h
@[87% HR
max
AIT aerobic interval training, BW body weight, CMJ counter-movement jump, Ccontrol group, CS core stability, DJ drop jump, ERT explosive resistance training, ET endurance training (e.g.,
cycling, swimming, roller skiing), GCT ground contact time, hhours, HIIT high-intensity interval training, HR
max
maximum heart rate (predicted from 220-age), HRT heavy resistance training,
Iintervention group, LB lower body, LSD long slow distance run, MVC maximum voluntary contraction, PPO peak power output, PT plyometric training, RDL Romanian deadlift, RM
repetition maximum, RT resistance training, SpT sprint training, ST strength training, UB upper body, RT
WBV
resistance training with whole body vibration
Effects of Strength Training on Distance Running
123
Table 3 Outcomes of the studies. Percentage changes, effect size (ES) and pvalue only reported for statistically significant group results or ES[0.2. All results presented are for the
intervention (I) group unless stated (e.g., C =control). Variables measured where no-significance (NS) difference for time (pre- vs. post-score) and no group 9time (G 9T) interaction was
detected, are also listed
Study Main strength outcomes Economy _
VO2max=
_
VO2peak v
_
VO2max Blood lactate Time trial Anaerobic
measures
Body composition
Albracht and
Arampatzis
[84]
Plantarflexion MVC
(6.7%, ES =0.56,
p=0.004), max
Achilles tendon force
(7.0%, ES =0.55,
p\0.01), Tendon
stiffness (15.8%,
ES =0.90, p\0.001)
_
VO2@10.8 km h
-1
(5.0%,
ES =0.79)
@12.6 km h
-1
(3.4%,
ES =0.51)
EC@10.8 km h
-1
(4.6%,
ES =0.61)
@12.6 km h
-1
(3.5%,
ES =0.50), all p\0.05
BL@10.8 and
12.6 km h
-1
,NS
Body mass, NS
Beattie et al.
[33]
1RM back squat (wk
0–20: 19.3%,
ES =1.2, p=0.001)
DJ
RSI
(wk 0–20: 7.3%,
ES =0.3, NS G 9T;
wk 0–40: 14.6%,
ES =0.5, NS G 9T)
CMJ (wk 0–20: 11.5%,
ES =0.5, NS G 9T;
wk 0–40: 11.5%,
ES =0.6, NS G 9T)
Ave. of 5 speeds
Wk 0–20: 5.0%, ES =1.0,
p=0.01.
Wk 0–40: 3.5%, ES =0.6,
NS.
Wk 0–20: 0.1%,
ES =0.1,
p=0.013.
Wk 0-40, I:
7.4%,
ES =0.5,
p=0.003, C:
2.8%,
ES =0.6, NS
Wk 0-20:
3.5%,
ES =0.7,
NS.
Wk 0-40:
4.0%,
ES =0.9,
NS
v2 mmol L
-1
,
v4 mmol L
-1
,NS
Body mass, fat and
lean muscle, NS
Berryman
et al. [80]
PPO (ERT: 15.4%,
ES =0.98, p\0.01;
PT: 3.4%, ES =0.24,
p\0.01).
CMJ (ERT: 4.5%,
ES =0.25, p\0.01;
PT: 6.0%, ES =0.52,
p\0.01)
@12 km h
-1
ERT: 4%, ES =0.62,
p\0.01.
PT: 7%, ES =1.01,
p\0.01
NS ERT: 4.2%,
ES =0.43,
p\0.01.
PT: 4.2%,
ES =0.49,
p\0.01
3 km TT
ERT: 4.1%,
ES =0.37.
PT: 4.8%,
ES =0.46.
C: 3.0%,
ES =0.20;
all p\0.05,
G9TNS
Body mass, NS
Bertuzzi et al.
[85]
1RM half squat (RT:
17%, pB0.05;
RT
WBV
: 18%,
pB0.05)
–NSNS
Bonacci et al.
[83]
@12 km h
-1
(after 45 min
AIT cycle) NS
Body mass, skinfolds,
thigh and calf girth,
NS
R. C. Blagrove et al.
123
Table 3 continued
Study Main strength outcomes Economy _
VO2max=
_
VO2peak v
_
VO2max Blood lactate Time trial Anaerobic
measures
Body composition
Damasceno
et al. [89]
1RM half–squat (23%,
ES =1.41, p\0.05),
DJ
RSI
, wingate test NS
@12 km h
-1
NS NS v
_
VO2max
(2.9%,
ES =0.42,
p\0.05)
–10kmTT
(2.5%,
p=0.039),
increased
speed in
final 7 laps
(p\0.05)
30 s Wingate
test, NS
Body mass and
skinfold, NS
Ferrauti et al.
[81]
Leg extension MVC
(33.9%, ES =1.65,
p\0.001); leg flexion
MVC (9.4%,
ES =0.38, NS)
@LT (ES =0.40, p\0.05,
NS G 9T)
@8.6 and 10.1 km h
-1
,NS
FU@10.1 km h
-1
(ES =0.61, p=0.05 G
9T)
5.6%,
ES =0.40,
NS G 9T
BL@10.1 km h
-1
(I:
13.1%, C: 12.1%,
NS G 9T).
v4 mmol L
-1
(I:
4.2%, C: 2.6%, NS
G9T).
Body mass, NS
Fletcher et al.
[82]
Isometric MVC (I:
21.6%, C: 13.4%), NS
G9T
EC@75,85,95% sLT, NS BL@ 75,85,95% sLT,
NS.
–– –
Giovanelli
et al. [36]
SJ PPO, NS
k
leg
@10 km h
-1
, (9.5%,
ES =0.33,
p=0.034),
@12 km h
-1
(10.1%,
ES =0.33,
p=0.038).
k
vert
@8,10,12,14 km h
-1
,
NS
@8 km h
-1
(6.5%,
ES =0.43, p=0.005),
@10 km h
-1
(3.5%,
ES =0.48, p=0.032),
@12 km h
-1
(4.0%,
ES =0.34, p=0.020),
@14 km h
-1
(3.2%,
ES =0.35, p=0.022),
@RCP NS
NS NS Body mass, FFM, fat
mass, NS
Johnston
et al. [72]
1RM squat (40%,
p\0.05), knee flexion
(27%, p\0.05)
@12.8 km h
-1
(4.1%,
ES =1.76, p\0.05),
@13.8 km h
-1
(3.8%,
ES =1.61, p\0.05)
NS Body mass, fat mass,
FFM, limb girth,
NS
Karsten et al.
[31]
NS NS 5 km TT
(3.5%,
ES =1.06,
p=0.002)
ARD, NS
Effects of Strength Training on Distance Running
123
Table 3 continued
Study Main strength outcomes Economy _
VO2max=
_
VO2peak v
_
VO2max Blood lactate Time trial Anaerobic
measures
Body composition
Mikkola et al.
[78]
MVC (8%), 1RM (4%),
RFD (31%) on leg
press; all p\0.05.
CMJ and 5–bounds, NS
@14 km h
-1
(2.7%,
ES =0.32, p\0.05),
@10,12,13 km h
-1
,NS
NS NS BL@12 km h
-1
(12%, p\0.05),
@14 km h
-1
(11%,
p\0.05)
– vMART
(3.0%,
p\0.01),
v30 m sprint
(1.1%,
p\0.01)
Body mass (2%,
ES =0.32,
p\0.01).
Thickness of QF (I:
3.9%, ES =0.35,
p\0.01; C: 1.9%,
ES =0.10,
p\0.05); fat %,
lean mass, NS
Millet et al.
[74]
1RM half–squat (25%,
p\0.01), 1RM heel
raise (17%, p\0.01),
hop height (3.3%,
p\0.05)
k
leg
@3 km pace
(ES =1.2, p\0.05)
GCT, hop stiffness, NS
@75% v
_
VO2max (7.4%,
ES =1.14, p\0.05)
@*92%
_
VO2max (5.9%,
ES =1.15, p\0.05)
NS 2.6%,
ES =0.57,
p\0.01,
NS G 9T
Body mass, NS
Paavolainen
et al. [73]
MVC knee extension
(7.1%, p\0.01), 5BJ
(4.6%, p\0.01)
@15 km h
-1
(8.1%,
ES =3.22, p\0.001)
@13.2 km h
-1
,NS
_
VO2@LT, NS
C: (4.9%,
p\0.05)
_
VO2max
demand
(3.7%,
p\0.05, NS
G9T)
–– 5kmTT
(3.1%,
p\0.05)
v20 m (3.4%,
ES =0.77,
p\0.01)
vMART
(ES =1.98,
p\0.001)
Body mass, fat %,
calf and thigh girth,
NS
Pellegrino
et al. [91]
CMJ (5.2%, p=0.045,
NS G 9T)
@10.6 km h
-1
(1.3%,
p\0.05 group) NS G 9
T @7.7, 9.2, 12.1, 13.5,
15.0, 16.4 km h
-1
, NS.
5.2%,
ES =0.49,
p=0.03, NS
G9T
sLT, NS 3 km TT
(2.6%,
ES =0.20,
p=0.04)
––
Piacentini
et al. [86]
1RM leg press (HRT:
17%, ES =0.69,
p\0.05), CMJ (C: 7%,
ES =0.63, p\0.05),
SJ (C: 13%,
ES =0.83, p\0.01),
Stiffness (RT: 13%,
ES =0.64, p\0.05)
@10.75 km h
-1
/marathon
pace (HRT: 6.2%,
p\0.05).
@9.75,11.75 km h
-1
,NS
Body mass, fat mass,
FFM, RMR, NS
Ramı
´rez-
Campillo
et al. [87]
CMJ (8.9%, ES =0.51,
p\0.01), DJ @20 cm
(12.7%, ES =0.43,
p\0.01), DJ @40 cm
(16.7%, ES =0.6,
p\0.05)
2.4 km TT
(3.9%,
ES =0.4,
p\0.05)
20 m sprint
(2.3%,
ES =0.3,
p\0.01)
Body mass, NS
R. C. Blagrove et al.
123
Table 3 continued
Study Main strength outcomes Economy _
VO2max=
_
VO2peak v
_
VO2max Blood lactate Time trial Anaerobic
measures
Body composition
Saunders
et al. [77]
SJ RFD and peak force,
NS.
5CMJ, NS
@18 km h
-1
(4.1%,
ES =0.35, p\0.05)
@14,16 km h
-1
,NS
NS – BL
@14,16,18 km h
-1
,
NS
Body mass, NS
Schumann
et al.
[90,92]
1RM leg press (I: NS, C:
–4.7%, p=0.011),
MVC leg flexion (–
9.7%, p=0.031,
ES =0.96, NS G 9
T), MVC leg press NS,
MVC knee ext. NS,
CMJ NS
BL during 6 91km
(I: NS, C:, 21%, NS
G9T)
v4 mmol L
-1
(I: 6%,
C: 8%, NS G 9T).
1 km TT after
5x 1 km,
60 s rec. (I:
9%, C: 13%,
NS G 9T)
Body mass, NS;
CSA vastus lateralis
(group diff. I: 7%,
C: -6%, NS G 9T);
Total and leg lean
mass (I: 2%, NS G
9T)
Skovgaard
et al. [88]
1RM squat (wk 4: 3.8%,
wk 8: 12%, p\0.001);
1RM leg press (wk 4:
8%, p\0.05; wk 8:
18%, p\0.001), 5RM
deadlift (wk 4: 14%,
wk8: 22%, p\0.001)
@12 km h
-1
(wk 8: 3.1%,
ES =1.53, p\0.01)
NS 10 km TT
(wk 4:
3.8%,
ES =1.50,
p\0.05)
1500 m TT
(wk 8:
5.5%,
ES =0.67,
p\0.001)
Body mass, NS
Spurrs et al.
[75]
MTS @75% MVC (left:
14.9%, right: 10.9%,
p\0.05), Calf MVC
(left: 11.4%, right:
13.6%, p\0.05).
RFD NS
@12 km h
-1
(6.7%,
ES =0.45), 14 km h
-1
(6.4%, ES =0.45),
16 km h
-1
(4.1%,
ES =0.30), all p\0.01
NS 3 km TT
(2.7%,
ES =0.13,
p\0.05, NS
G9T)
Body mass, NS
Støren et al.
[79]
1RM (33.2%, p\0.01)
and RFD (26%,
p\0.01) half–squat
@70%
_
VO2max (5%,
ES =1.03, p\0.01)
NS sLT, LT %
_
VO2max,
NS
Body mass, NS
Turner et al.
[76]
CMJ and SJ, NS Ave. of 3 speeds: M=9.6,
11.3, 12.9, F=8.0, 9.6,
11.3 km h
-1
(2–3%,
pB0.05)
@9.6 km h
-1
,NS
––– –
Effects of Strength Training on Distance Running
123
[80,89]. One study [74] reported a 2.6% improvement (ES:
0.57) and another [33] a 4.0% increase (ES: 0.9) after a
40-week intervention; however, these changes were not
significantly different to the control group.
3.8 Blood Lactate Parameters
Blood lactate value was measured at fixed velocities in six
studies [77,78,81,82,84,92] and velocity assessed for
fixed concentrations of BL (2–4 mmol L
-1
) or lactate
threshold (LT) in six studies [32,33,79,81,90,91]. One
study using young participants observed significantly
greater improvements (11–12%) at two speeds compared to
the control group [78]. Other studies found no significant
changes following the intervention [32,33,77,79,
82,84,91] or a change which was not superior to the
control group [81,90,92].
3.9 Time-Trial Performance
To assess the impact of ST directly upon distance running
performance, studies utilized time trials over 1000 m
(preceded by 5 91 km) [90,92], 1500 m [88], 2.4 km
[87], 3 km [75,80,91], 5 km [31,73], 10 km [88,89],
5 min [32], and 40 min [38]. There were similarities to
competitive scenarios in most studies, including perfor-
mances taking place under race conditions [31,75,
87,9092], on an outdoor athletics track [31,8789], on
an indoor athletics track [73,75,80,9092], and fol-
lowing a prolonged (90-min) submaximal run [38]. Per-
formance improvements were statistically significant
compared to a control group for eight of the 12 trials. The
exceptions were a 40-min time trial [38], a 1000-m rep-
etition [90,92], and two studies that used a 3 km time trial
[75,80]. Statistically significant 3 km improvements were
observed for all groups in one case [80]; however, the ES
was larger for the two intervention groups (0.37 and 0.46)
compared to the control group (0.20). Improvements over
middle-distances (1500–3000 m) were generally moderate
(3–5%, ES: 0.4–1.0). Moderate to large effects (ES:[1.0)
were observed for two studies [31,88] that evaluated
performance over longer distances (5–10 km); however,
the relative improvements were quite similar (2–4%) over
long distances compared to shorter distances
[31,73,88,89].
3.10 Anaerobic Outcomes
Tests relating to anaerobic determinants of distance run-
ning performance were used in five investigations. Sprint
speed over 20 m [73,87] and 30 m [78] showed statis-
tically significant improvements following ST (1.1–3.4%).
Two studies provided evidence for enhancement of
Table 3 continued
Study Main strength outcomes Economy _
VO2max=
_
VO2peak v
_
VO2max Blood lactate Time trial Anaerobic
measures
Body composition
Vikmoen
et al.
[32,38]
1RM half–squat (45%,
ES =2.4, p\0.01), SJ
(8.9%, ES =0.83,
p\0.05), CMJ (5.9%,
ES =0.65, p\0.05)
@10 km h
-1
, NS NS NS v3.5 mmol L
-1
, NS 5 min TT
(4.7%,
ES =0.95,
p\0.05).
40 min TT,
NS
I: Leg mass (3.1%,
ES =1.69,
p=p\0.05), body
mass, NS
C: Leg mass (-2.2%),
body mass decrease
(-1.2%, p\0.05)
ARD anaerobic running distance, BJ broad jump, BL blood lactate, CMJ counter-movement jump, Ccontrol group, DJ drop jump, DJ
RSI
drop jump reactive strength index, EC energy cost,
EMG electromyography, ERT explosive resistance training, FFM fat-free mass, FU fractional utilization, GCT ground contact time, GRF ground reaction force, HR heart rate, HRT heavy
resistance training, Iintervention group, k
leg
leg stiffness, k
vert
vertical stiffness, (s)LT (speed at) lactate threshold, MAS maximal aerobic speed, MTS musculotendinous stiffness, MVC
maximum voluntary contraction, PPO peak power output, PT plyometric training, QF quadriceps femoris, RCP respiratory compensation point (V
E
/VCO
2
), RFD rate of force development, RM
repetition maximum, RMR resting metabolic rate, RT resistance training, RT
WBV
resistance training with whole body vibration, SJ squat jump, TT time trial, TTE time to exhaustion, vvelocity,
vMART velocity during maximal anaerobic running test,
_
VO2oxygen uptake,
_
VO2max=
_
VO2peak highest oxygen uptake associated with a maximal aerobic exercise test, v
_
VO2max velocity
associated with
_
VO2max,wk week
R. C. Blagrove et al.
123
vMART [73,78], and one further study showed no
change in anaerobic running distance after 6 weeks of
HRT [31]. A 30-s Wingate test was also used in one
paper; however, no differences in performance were noted
[89].
3.11 Body Composition
Body mass did not change from baseline in 18 of the
studies [32,33,36,38,7275,77,7981,83,84,8689];
however, one investigation reported a significant increase
(2%, ES: 0.32) following ST [78]. This study also docu-
mented changes in the thickness of quadriceps femoris
muscle in both the intervention (3.9%, ES: 0.35) and
control group (1.9%, ES: 0.10) [78]. Similarly, an increase
in total lean mass (3%) and leg lean mass (3%) was found
following 12 weeks of ST despite little alteration in cross-
sectional area of the vastus lateralis and body mass being
noted [90,92]. Another study observed a significant
decrease (-1.2%) in body mass in the control group, with
no change in the intervention group [32]. A significant
increase in leg mass (3.1%, ES: 1.69) was also noted in this
study [32,38]. Other indices of body composition that
exhibited no significant changes were: fat mass
[33,36,72,73,78,86], fat-free mass [36,72,86], lean
muscle mass [33,78], skinfolds [83,89], and limb girth
measurements [72,73,83].
4 Discussion
The aim of this systematic review was to identify and
evaluate current literature which investigated the effects of
ST exercise on the physiological determinants of middle-
and long-distance running performance. The addition of
new research published in this area, and the application of
more liberal criteria provided results for 50% more par-
ticipants (n=469) compared to a recent review on RE
[10]. Based upon the data presented herein, it appears that
ST activities can positively affect performance directly and
provide benefits to several physiological parameters that
are important for distance running. However, inconsisten-
cies exist within the literature, that can be attributed to
differences in methodologies and characteristics of study
participants, thus practitioners should be cautious when
applying generalized recommendations to their athletes.
Despite the moderate PEDro scores (4, 5, or 6), the quality
of the works reviewed in this paper are generally consid-
ered acceptable when the unavoidable constraints imposed
by a training intervention study (related to blinding) are
taken into account.
4.1 Running Economy
Running economy, defined as the oxygen or energy cost to
run at a given sub-maximal velocity, is influenced by a
variety of factors, including force-related and stretch–
shortening cycle qualities, which can be improved with ST
activities. In general, an ST intervention, lasting
6–20 weeks, added to the training program of a distance
runner appears to enhance RE by 2–8%. This finding is in
agreement with previous meta-analytical reviews in this
area that show concurrent training has a beneficial effect
(*4%) on RE [10,26]. In real terms, an improvement in
RE of this magnitude should theoretically allow a runner to
operate at a lower relative intensity and thus improve
training and/or race performance. No studies attempted to
demonstrate this link directly, although inferences were
made in studies, which noted improvements in RE and
performance separately [73,80,88]. Other works provide
evidence that small alterations in RE (*1.1%) directly
translate to changes (*0.8%) in sub-maximal [94] and
maximal running performance [95]. The typical error of
measurement of RE has been reported to be 1–2% [9699]
and the smallest worthwhile change *2% [94,98,100],
which is thought to represent a ‘‘real’’ improvement and
not simply a change due to variability of the measure.
Taken together, it is therefore likely that the improvements
seen in RE following a period of concurrent training would
represent a meaningful change in performance.
Improvements were observed in moderately-trained
[72,76,84,86], well-trained [33,36,73,75,79,80,88]
and highly-trained participants [74,77], suggesting runners
of any training status can benefit from ST. Different modes
of ST were utilized in the studies, with RT or HRT
[72,78,79,84,86], ERT [80], PT [75,76,80], and a
combination of these activities [33,36,77], all augmenting
RE to a similar extent. Single-joint isometric RT may also
provide a benefit if performed at a high frequency (4
day week
-1
)[84]. Several studies adopted a periodized
approach to the types of ST prioritized during each 3- to
6-week cycle [33,36,77,88], which is likely to provide the
best strategy to optimize gains long-term [101].
Six studies [32,8183,89,91] failed to show any
improvement in RE and a further six [36,73,7678,86]
observed both improvements and an absence of change at
various velocities. This implies benefits are more likely to
occur under specific conditions relating to the choice of
exercises, participant characteristics, and velocity used to
measure RE. In most studies that observed a benefit,
exercises with free weights were utilized
[33,36,72,74,86,88]. Multi-joint exercises using free
weights are likely to provide a superior neuromuscular
stimulus compared to machine-based or single-joint exer-
cises as they demand greater levels of co-ordination, multi-
Effects of Strength Training on Distance Running
123
planar control, activation of synergistic muscle groups
[102,103] and usually require force to be produced from
closed-kinetic chain positions. These types of exercise also
have a greater biomechanical similarity to the running
action so are therefore likely to provide a greater level of
specificity and hence transfer of training effect [104]. An