In accordance with the principles of training specificity, resistance and endurance training induce distinct muscular adaptations. Endurance training, for example, decreases the activity of the glycolytic enzymes, but increases intramuscular substrate stores, oxidative enzyme activities, and capillary, as well as mitochondrial, density. In contrast, resistance or strength training reduces mitochondrial density, while marginally impacting capillary density, metabolic enzyme activities and intramuscular substrate stores (except muscle glycogen). The training modalities do induce one common muscular adaptation: they transform type IIb myofibres into IIa myofibres. This transformation is coupled with opposite changes in fibre size (resistance training increases, and endurance training decreases, fibre size), and, in general, myofibre contractile properties. As a result of these distinct muscular adaptations, endurance training facilitates aerobic processes, whereas resistance training increases muscular strength and anaerobic power. Exercise performance data do not fit this paradigm, however, as they indicate that resistance training or the addition of resistance training to an ongoing endurance exercise regimen, including running or cycling, increases both short and long term endurance capacity in sedentary and trained individuals. Resistance training also appears to improve lactate threshold in untrained individuals during cycling. These improvements may be linked to the capacity of resistance training to alter myofibre size and contractile properties, adaptations that may increase muscular force production. In contrast to running and cycling, traditional dry land resistance training or combined swim and resistance training does not appear to enhance swimming performance in untrained individuals or competitive swimmers, despite substantially increasing upper body strength. Combined swim and swim-specific 'in-water' resistance training programmes, however, increase a competitive swimmer's velocity over distances up to 200 m. Traditional resistance training may be a valuable adjunct to the exercise programmes followed by endurance runners or cyclists, but not swimmers; these latter athletes need more specific forms of resistance training to realise performance improvement.