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Improve Cardio with Strength Training


There is really no forum where this can be posted, so I figured I'd post it here.

As I was reading supertraining, Mel Siff mentioned something that really struck me. He mentioned that "strength training, even in the beginning stages of training contributes more to the largest improvements in distance sports than aerobic training".

Unfortunately, he leaves it hanging. He doesn't explain why this happens, and more importantly, how to take advantage of it. So I decided to post it on here for the smart folks here on T-Nation to offer up their opinions.

Just some thinking out loud on my part: I can understand strength training increasing local muscular endurance, but only as long as the load being lifted is greater than 30% of a person's 1RM. "Distance sports", as Mel Siff calls them are well below 30% of 1RM. How does strength training improve that? Can anyone offer any insight? By the way, if you're one of the T-Nation contributors, don't be shy. Feel free to chime in here.


Well, everything's relative including, I guess, what you'd consider "strength training". I've read of marathoners improving their times by doing exercises like planks, bridges and other stability work (less energy leakage, better form). A lot of runners have weak/tight hams, too, so some exercises suggest themselves there.

Don't know anything about percentages or where in the "strength curve" things'd have to happen. I do know a former (and very accomplished) pro cyclist who squats, deads, and benches (and runs and does yoga), and did so even before becoming a pro (she actually powerlifted a bit). I think 99% of her training while a pro, though, came on the bike. At least, that's how it's sounded to me.


Strength is the key for everything (endurance, speed, power). If you get stronger, it will improve the other qualities as well.

Check out this blog I wrote concerning strength and conditioning:



Nate, I liked your blog. Yes, there is general agreement that strength is the basis for muscular endurance, speed, power, etc.

However, Mel Siff was specifically referring to cardiovascular endurance. This is where I got curious. How does strength improve cardiovascular endurance? Or perhaps the question should be rephrased to how does strength improve performance in endurance sports?