Dietmar Schmidtbleicher on Interference Effects of Concurrent Training

>> January 11, 2016

Strength and power specialist, Prof Dr.Dr. Dietmar Schmidtbleicher was invited in a 2-hour discussion about conditioning-related topics with a small group of conditioning coaches in January 2016. For a record, this German scientist has published ~500 scientific journals and articles since he started his sports-related research in 1970's. One of the topics we discussed was interference effects of concurrent training.

Concurrent training is a structure of training combining endurance (aerobic) and strength training during a single training session. The structure is usually applied by coaches for reducing the number of training sessions the athletes have to do in a week, and also to attain certain mileage goal of running endurance for a particular week. So they have athletes to perform aerobic endurance first and then followed by strength session with the conditioning coach. Despite these reasons, the structure may not be the best training arrangement according to Schmidtbleicher.

One example of arrangement that has been used by coaches is to have his athletes to perform endurance training such as long slow distance for 10km, and followed by weight training (e.g. 3 sets x 10 reps bench press) after some period (~20 mins) of recovery.

The first point that highlighted by Schmidtbleicher sounds like this, “neuromuscular condition is good if you’re not fatigue”. The neuromuscular system will certainly at best for performing many athletic movements when the condition is "fresh". In contrary, it can be a problem for athletes to execute a sound technique of strength exercises when they are in a state of fatigue. Thus, Schmidtbeicher suggests the athletes to perform running endurance and strength training not at the same session.

by Hawley (2009), A Physiol Nutr Metab

One reason for "splitting" the two types of training can be justified when we look at the “interference theory” which explains the “competing effects” occur at cellular level associated with performance of aerobic endurance and strength training simultaneously at the same session. The activation of enzymes (i.e. AMPK) important for the process of energy production (i.e. mitochondrial production) in aerobic endurance are not compatible, and in fact can possibly impedes the enzymes (mTORC1) that should be activated during strength training for controlling the protein synthesis (for cell growth). The “blocking” of signalling pathways can minimize the adaptation of training. Hence, the athletes may not getting an optimal specific training benefit in concurrent training. Moreover a long-term performance of high volume or intensity of concurrent training may promotes overreaching (while getting minimal training gain), then a possible occurrence of overtraining .

Nevertheless, it is still important to scrutinize or make an in-depth inspection on this topic. We may want to look further at the dose-response relationship, specific objective (body composition et.?), type of endurance training (running, walking, cycling, swimming?), type of strength training (hypertrophy, strength, power), training structure for optimal training adaptation (lesser interference effect) while maintaining sports-specific requirement (for endurance-strength sports), and current research looking at these variables on the magnitude of interference effects from concurrent training. This allows one to ascertain if the aerobic endurance and strength training can be performed together at some degrees.

Jad Adrian Washif

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