The comparative effects of periodized lower body strength training versus high intensity circuit programming in experienced runners

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2023 May;63(5):639-649. doi: 10.23736/S0022-4707.23.14389-1. Epub 2023 Feb 15.


Background: The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of supplementing habitual run training with periodized lower body strength training versus high intensity circuit strength training on running performance and related variables in experienced runners.

Methods: Nineteen (N.=19) participants performed 8 weeks of 2 d·wk-1 periodized lower body strength training (PLB), N.=9, or high intensity circuit training (CT), N.=10. PLB sessions included 2 sets of the back squat, standing calf raise, leg press, and dumbbell lunge, with intensity linearly periodized. CT sessions simulated CrossFit-style programming and included 2-4 heavy (>10-RM) sets of a compound lift, followed by a high intensity, whole body resistance circuit. Three-km time trial (TT), V̇O<inf>2</inf>max, relative leg press 1-RM, running economy (RE) at 2 standard submaximal velocities (SV1, SV2) between 11 and 14 km∙hr-1, RPE at SV1/SV2, and peak/mean power were assessed pre and postintervention.

Results: Similar (P≤0.02) increases occurred in RE at 11 km∙hr-1 (36.4±3.1 to 35.4±2.4 mL·kg-1·min-1) and RPE at SV1 (12.5±1.3 to 11.4±1.6). Relative 1-RM (2.54±0.41 to 3.40±0.72) and RPE at SV2 (14.1±1.3 to 12.9±1.8) improved in both groups (P≤0.03). However, PLB showed larger improvements in 1-RM (0.43±0.18 vs. 0.2±1.9, t=2.75, P=0.015) and RPE at SV2 (-1.75±0.9 vs. -0.63±1.1, t=2.30, P=0.037). TT, V̇O<inf>2</inf>max, RE at 12-14 km∙hr-1, and power were unchanged (P≥0.27).

Conclusions: PLB and CT enhanced 1-RM, RE at 11 km∙hr-1 and RPE at SV1/SV2, but neither modality improved TT performance, V̇O<inf>2</inf>max, anaerobic power, or RE at faster velocities. PLB resulted in greater improvements in 1-RM and RPE at SV2.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength
  • Resistance Training* / methods
  • Running*
  • Weight Lifting