Training For Strength Vs. Endurance - and to How to Avoid Sore Muscles

Strength Training vs Endurance Training

Whether you’re a casual gymgoer or a seasoned athlete, one thing is for certain: intense, regular exercise is essential for keeping your body as healthy and capable as it can be.  

While there are a ton of different exercises you could incorporate into your conditioning, they ultimately boil down into two different categories. Strength training and endurance training. Here’s what you should know about training for strength versus training for endurance; and why both are equally important for staying healthy and optimizing your performance both inside and outside of the gym. 

Strength Training

Strength training is intended to help build both muscles and strength. Strength training usually involves some form of resistance -- for example, weightlifting is the most obvious form of strength training, but you can also build strength with resistance bands, weight machines, or even by your own body weight as resistance (like with push-ups and pull-ups). 

As you perform your strength training exercises under the tension from added resistance, your muscles will either contract (“concentric” contractions) or lengthen (“eccentric” contractions). The heavy resistance causes microscopic tears in those muscle fibers, which eventually rebuild themselves with the right recovery strategy and diet. This causes an increase in muscle size over time! Strength training also specifically works on a type of muscle fiber called “fast-twitch” muscle fibers, which are responsible for producing force (aka strength). 

Benefits of strength training 

  • The most obvious benefit of strength training is that training your muscles helps you to become stronger! This can translate in a ton of different ways throughout your life: not only will you be able to lift heavier objects and apply more force, but you’ll also be able to better protect yourself from injury.
  • Building muscle via strength training is a great way to gain definition and size (aka “bulking”). This is also really good for your overall metabolism since muscles require a ton of calories to maintain. 
  • Strength training is also really good for improving bone strength, especially in older adults. Good for bone strength, especially for older adults.

How to train for strength

If you’re looking to increase your strength, focus on resistance-based exercises that use heavier, challenging weights. You’ll also perform the exercises with a lower number of reps and longer rests in between each set. 

Endurance Training

On the other hand, the goal of endurance training is to improve your ability to maintain your physical activity for a longer period of time. Endurance training can encompass a wide range of exercises, but generally include aerobic exercises that keep your heart rate elevated for long periods of time like running, cycling, and swimming. However, you can also work on your muscular endurance by putting your muscles through resistance-based exercises, this time focusing on the length of your workout rather than the amount of weight that you are lifting. 

When you’re training hard, your body has to work harder to deliver oxygen to every muscle in your body, which is why both your heart rate and your breathing rate begin to increase during intense workouts. So training regularly for endurance increases your VO2max, or your maximal oxygen consumption, which allows you to continue your exercises for longer by using less energy and getting less tired during the process. It also trains your “slow-twitch” muscle fibers, which allow for better muscle endurance.

Benefits of endurance training

  • Because endurance training focuses on keeping your heart rate up, it’s great for improving your cardiovascular health. With heart-related chronic conditions like high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes plaguing a huge portion of our population, this means that nearly everyone can benefit from incorporating more endurance training into their regular routine. 
  • Endurance training is also great for a variety of sports from marathon running to soccer and everything in between, since it allows you to use less energy and outlast your opponents. 
  • If you’re looking for physique-based progress, endurance training like running, cycling, and other aerobic cardiovascular training use a ton of energy, which means that it also burns a ton of calories. This means that endurance workouts are especially great for burning fat and weight loss, aka “cutting.” 

How to train for endurance 

If you’re training for cardiovascular endurance, you can start doing cardio-based workouts like running, pushing yourself to continue the movement for longer periods of time with each training session. 

If you’re working on building your muscular endurance, you can incorporate weights into your workout. But instead of using heavier weights and a lower number of weights, use lighter weights and repeat your reps for a longer time (for example, 20-30 reps per set). 

The Benefits Of Training For Both Endurance And Strength 

Even though most training workouts are either strength or training exercises, the good news is that you don’t have to dedicate your training solely to one or the other. In fact, a good, comprehensive training program will have both strength and endurance training, since both are good for both athletics and daily life/functional fitness! 

Take competitive distance running, for example. You’ll obviously need to train your endurance so that you can finish the race, but strength training will give you the power to push yourself to top speed when you need it the most. 

To incorporate both endurance and strength into your workout regimen, make sure that you’re using variety. For example, you can dedicate a couple of days a week to long-distance running to work on your endurance or higher-intensity HIIT workouts. You can also do resistance training to improve your strength.

Key Takeaways 

Endurance helps you use less energy, resist fatigue, and keep yourself going for long periods of time. On the other hand, working on your strength allows you to lift heavier, push harder, maximize your force . In a comprehensive workout program, you should be training both your endurance and your strength. This will allow you to become a more well-rounded athlete and give yourself the best edge over your competition!

If you’re really looking to take your workout to the next level, HOTSHOT for Muscle Cramps and HOTSHOT for Muscle Soreness are both uniquely designed to prevent and treat muscle cramps and reduce next-day soreness even after your most intense workouts.

Featured image credit: Photo by Victor Freitas