Circuit training for endurance

Endurance athletes, both recreational and hobbyists, suffer from lack of availability to train. That’s due to domestic, social and professional responsibilities. And the majority of them tend to skip their strength training sessions for two main reasons. For one, they do not recognize the benefits that strength training offers to aerobic endurance. For another, they are convinced that strength training is, in comparison, the opposite of endurance performance. That’s where circuit training for endurance comes into the picture.

The advantages of strength training

We can proceed with guidelines and recommendations for a super-optimal circuit training. One that can boost your performance without the need to spend all your available time on it. However, we should first put two extremely important advantages strength training will provide to your training life, on the table. The first one is it will prevent Sarcopenia; the second is the large improvement in your energy expenditure rates, during aerobic exercise. 

Preventing Sarcopenia

Undoubtedly, the most important reason to introduce systematic aerobic exercise to your daily life is the health benefit you’ll enjoy, on a long term basis. However, it’s a well known fact in the scientific community; the lack of strength training, mathematically leads to loss of muscle tissue. In fact, that’s a result of low muscle activation. This phenomenon is called Sarcopenia. Preventing it, plays a crucial role in our health. That is, regarding both musculoskeletal and autonomy issues, especially as the years go by. You can work towards preventing it with some basic circuit training for endurance.

Reducing energy expenditure

Maximizing performance is also a strong internal motivator. One that keeps us in the loop, observing our training procedure. Believe it or not, strength training dramatically improves performance in endurance events, for both biomechanics and energy utilization reasons. There is a host of different studies (Staron et al. 1994, Johnston et al. 1997, Paavolainen et al. 1999, Storen et al. 2008) that indicate the significance of combined training (endurance and strength) in aerobic performance. That’s another aspect of your performance you can improve with circuit training for endurance.

Introducing strength training

These inherently serious problems happen due to lack of strength training. Surely enough, you may avoid them entirely with a 25-30min circuit training program, aimed to improve endurance. This type of training will cause the entire body to engage in the exercise. And, it will activate the majority of your muscles. After all, that’s much of what circuit training for endurance does.

Typical circuit training for endurance includes low and high impact exercises, in terms of intensity; about 50-70% of 1 RM X 10-18 repetitions, with a very short rest duration (10-20sec) between exercises. 

The most popular circuit training structure includes total body workouts with upper, lower and core exercises (1-2 per muscle group). These are executed for 2-3 cycles.

A standard exercise routine of circuit training for endurance

Here’s an example, for you. An athlete can execute two cycles of the below circuit training program. That is, performing 15 repetitions, with 20 seconds of rest between exercises, and 3 minutes between two consecutive cycles. Here’s the structure:

  1. Clean and Jerk 
  2. Push-ups
  3. Rowing
  4. Elbow curls (biceps)
  5. ABS crunches 
  6. Deadlifts
  7. Bench Press
  8. Pull-ups
  9. Elbow extension (triceps)
  10. Dorsal exercises 

Too little time spent, too great results yielded

We can calculate the total duration, including a 10 minute warm-up and 5 minutes of stretching. The time required for this workout is about 30-35 minutes, in total. But, let’s take into consideration the health and performance advantages that will occur in the long term. We can, then, safely concede to the magnitude of value earned, in relation to the (minimum) time spent.

And don’t forget the aesthetic changes you will experience! Circuit training for endurance can definitely bring a new wind of change in your life. Give it a try!

Supporting studies

  1. Johnston R., Quinn, J., Kerzter, R., Vroman, N. (1997).
    Strength training in female distance runners: Impact on running economy.
    Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 11(4): 224-229
  2. Paavolainen, L., Hakkinen, K., Hamalainen, I., Nummela, A., Rusko, H. (1999).
    Explosive strength training improves 5-km running time by improving running economy and muscle power.
    Journal of Applied Physiology 86(5): 1527-1533
  3. Staron, R., Karapondo, D., Kraemer, W., Fry, S., Gordon, J., Falkel, F., Hagerman, F., Hikida, R. (1994).
    Skeletal Muscle adaptations during early phase of heavy resistance training in men and women.
    Journal of Applied Physiology
    76: 1247-1255
  4. Storen, O., Helgerud, J., Stoa, E., Hoff, J. (2008).
    Maximal Strength Training Improves Running Economy in Distance Runners.
    Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 40(6): 1089-1094
Circuit training for endurance was last modified: July 28th, 2020 by Aris Myrkos