T Nation

Strength or Conditioning First


I have a challenge set for the end of the year in which I want to test a 1RM in the three main power lifts, then in the same day run a 5k. I have normally trained for speed with strength as a secondary focus. I’ve also trained for distance running in the past. I’m comfortable with programming each aspect.

That said, I’m not sure I should train both with the same intensity at the same time. I don’t mean deadlifting while running around my neighborhood, as awesome as that would be for the neighbors to see. I am talking about splitting up the focus

I should focus on endurance first right? Just like if I were training for a race?


I’d go the opposite direction. Get strong, and build your endurance later. It takes less time, after all, and if you’re doing some reasonably hard conditioning regularly it’ll be way less of a stretch to run a reasonably short distance unless you want to do it in a very, very fast time.

I would suggest training your lifts three to for days a week; one hard(ish) conditioning session where you can fit it, nothing too extreme (10 rounds of sprints of some kind, prowler pushes or sled drags, anything lower in impact that you can easily program); and one LISS session of maybe half an hour.


It depends on your specific goals with your 1RM’s and 5k time. But generally speaking (at least in my experience) strength takes longer to improve than conditioning, so I would just bear that in mind.

But again, it depends on by how much you want to improve each?


How do you suggest programming the hardish conditioning? You mentioned 10 sprints. Should I just stick around that number? I have a prowler and big yard with both flat space and a steady incline. Normally when I do that, we just push it back and forth a few times.

I appreciate the help guys. All of my sprinting or speed work throughout the years has been directly from the sports I participated in. Conditioning as part of a strength program is new to me.


If you have no goals in the lifts or 5k, whats the point? just to finish?


My goals are to PR all three lifts and the 5k.


What’s worked well for me with sprints is this:

10 rounds at one intensity (give or take, with the prowler it’d be distance or load), 40 second rests between sprints. Every four weeks, up the intensity.


Look into some of the logs here as well. Some people have balanced both. Look into Endurance Athlete Does 531


Wouldn’t a program template that looks something like 3-4 days of lifting and 2+ days of 5k training work?

I don’t see why you can’t train both simultaneously unless you’re looking to run a marathon or looking to seriously improve your 100m sprint time or some such.

You may want to look at ActivitiesGuy’s log at the training log section. He runs long distances and sets weight PRs on a regular basis. Granted, the guy has a long history of sports and other athletics, but your post also suggests that you have a similar background.


Have you ever trained your 5k at a moderate/high level?


Maybe at one point I could’ve been considered moderate. I had a marathon running phase in my mid thirties.


Right now I lift thrice weekly, with one day dedicated to 5k training runs (broken 5ks, repeats, etc…) and another dedicated to sprint swimming (short interval 50s mostly). I have a pretty athletic background. Even at my age now, I could probably beat 2 out of 5 4th graders in most sports, maybe 3 if I have a fidget spinner to distract them.

I’ll look at those logs suggested. You guys have given good advice as usual.


Look up this article by Rippetoe:

to sum things up, his opinion is that establishing a solid base of strength first and then specialize more on endurance/conditioning is the better route.
It depends at what level you start from, a lot of people with little experience will get a good boost of conditioning just by weightlifting consistently at the beginning (that’s talking about strength training).
Also, 5/3/1 has some specific templates, not sure if you can find them online tho. The latest book, 5/3/1 Forever, has a few. “Bodybuild the upper / athlete the lower” comes to mind, templates made for police officers/military kind of trainees who are looking to have both a solid strength base and a good level of conditioning and endurance.


This is a very silly article that Rippetoe wrote, and another instance of him stepping well outside his very narrow wheelhouse.


I am not a fan of this article. What Rippetoe is really referring to is strength endurance, not conditioning. Otherwise we’d be seeing a whole lot of superheavy lifters setting records in the 400 meter. People need to condition imo, though it may not always be the focal point of their training.

Great recommendation with BB the upper/athlete the lower!


Check out The Hybrid Athlete, by Alex Viada. He discusses this very subject - development of strength and conditioning at the same time. Also, I’ve done it for years. It is possible, however while both qualities will progress, they will obviously move slower than if you were only training one. The gist of the book is to look at your conditioning the same as you do your strength work - both require proper recovery.

And I forget his time, but Alex set a goal similar to yours, he wanted to deadlift 500 and run a marathon in the same week - and he accomplished his goal. Marathon time wasn’t stellar, but it was better than you would expect for a meathead (IIRC).


Drop the idea of cardio. Swimming doesn’t make your running better, nor will running make your swimming better. It is activity specific. With varied goals, you need to focus primarily on lifting the big three and running. I would try something like this:

Squat 1-3 sets of 3-8 reps RPE 8-9
Bench 1-3 sets of 3-8 reps RPE 8-9
Pullup or Row for 50 total reps
Run 1-2 miles outside

Squat 1-3 sets of 3-8 reps RPE 8-9
Bench 1-3 sets of 3-8 reps RPE 8-9
Pullup or Row for 50 total reps
Run 1-2 miles outside

Squat 1-3 sets of 3-8 reps RPE 8-9
Bench 1-3 sets of 3-8 reps RPE 8-9
Deadlift 1-3 sets 3-8 reps RPE 8-9
Run 1-2 miles outside


Run a 3-5miles outside

Relax on your off days and eat lots of food.


If I ran that much my ankles would join forces with my shins and knees and they would mutiny against me. Lol


I can just go by my previous experience.
When I was in high school I boxed, never run, and did the 5km run at school in 31 mins.
A pair of years later, I dropped boxing and I just run for the sake of it, after a couple weeks (about two months) I did 13km in 60 mins.
It’s nothing special at all, plus I was younger and I had some background in boxing which has a lot of endurance involved, but in my experience conditioning improved much quicker than strength


I’ve just found running to be mostly the ability to endure discomfort. But I’m a bit weird. It definitely does improve with practice, but the power lifts will probably take longer to improve.

I’d say run separately from your lifting, and only push your pace above 80ish% maybe once or twice a month. Conditioning your ankles, knees, and calves is pretty important. Find an amount that doesn’t take away from your lifting. Start small, keep adding distance or sessions until recovery starts to wane. Then back off a couple increments. As long as you’re not attempting to set world records in either powerlifitng or 5k’s, you should be fine as long as you do both with some consistency.