Endurance or Strength? You Can Only Choose One

There’s a stark contrast between the body compositions of road racing endurance athletes and strength trainiers. You’d be right to think each body type is an outcome of routine and sport of choice. However, a recent study shows that there’s more to it than that. As it turns out, strength training might not mix so well with endurance sports.

According to researchers at the University of Basel’s Biozentrum, strength training promotes a neurotransmitter called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor or BDNF which decreases endurance associated muscle fibers while building strength.1

In this way, research suggests that BDNF makes it hard for one to engage in both strength training and endurance activities due to the suppression of muscle fibers beneficial for endurance.

Endurance muscle fibers or “slow-twitch fibers” are 1 of two kinds of muscle fibers affected by BDNF. These are the types of muscle fibers engaged by cyclists and marathon runners.

On the other hand, “fast-twitch muscle fibers”, are beneficial for strength training. These are the type of muscle fibers engaged by classic bodybuilders types.

Ultimately, BDNF helps in the development of fast twitch muscle fibers that help build strength while decreasing slow twitch endurance muscle fibers. With that said, if you’re a runner or cyclist, this study suggests that strength training may hurt your performance.

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2019-09-16 14:39:09By Ian Roden

Ian Roden

Ian Roden

Writer and expert

A Fordham University graduate, Ian majored in communications and media studies with a focus in journalism and a minor in anthropology during his time at college. Here, he wrote for the university newspaper ranked top ten in the nation.

A competitive athlete for most of his life, Ian has spent almost a decade working as an ocean rescue lifeguard in New Jersey. Within that role, he has competed in endurance sports competitions against other lifeguards for the last 8 years.

As a lifelong surfer, Ian spends most of his spare time in the ocean regardless of the time of year. He also enjoys distance running, photography, and frequently spending entirely too much money on concert tickets.

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