In professional soccer, it is not always possible to isolate strength and endurance training on separate days. Competition schedule, limited training time devoted to physical fitness, as well as other contextual variables nesecicitates the concurrent arrangement of strength and endurance sessions within the same training unit or within different training units performed in close proximity (within the same day). Typically, current approach dictates the execution of strength exercises before endurance exercises when strength and endurance are trained within the same session or strength workouts the day before endurance workouts.
Some studies have tried to investigate the effect of sequencing strength and endurance in soccer players specifically. For example McGawlay and Andersson pair-matched eighteen semi- and fully-professional players that completed 3 sessions per week of high intensity aerobic training followed by strength/power training (n=9) or strength/power training followed by high intensity aerobic training (n=9) for a pre-season period of five weeks (1). In this study the football exercises and strength/power exercises each lasted for 30 minutes and they were performed within the same session at 19:00. In another study, a strength training session was followed by soccer-specific endurance training or the same soccer-specific endurance training was performed in the morning followed by strength training in the early afternoon (2). In the first scenario both sessions were completed with a 3-4 morning period (08:45 and 10:30 respectively), whilst in the second scenario the players performed the endurance session at 10:30 and the strength session at 14:00. In this way, players that completed the strength exercises first had a 30-45 minute recovery period before the endurance exercises, whilst players that completed the endurance exercise first had 120 minutes of recovery before the strength session (2). Another study using a large sample of players compared performing strength before endurance in a single training session, endurance before strength in a single training session and strength and endurance training on alternate days (3). From the above studies, there were evidence to suggest that performing endurance before strength may be a little more beneficial for performance variables (2).
Although not specifically designed to test this hypothesis our recent study within a professional soccer club was conducted by performing the endurance session prior to strength session within the same day (4). These two sessions were conducted ninety-six hours prior to the next game and involved a morning session of medium/high volume endurance training (20-40 minutes) and an afternoon session of medium/high volume of strength training (30-40 minutes). The endurance training was always performed in the form of small-sided games. The goal of these sessions was accumulation of time in the high intensity aerobic zone (e.g., no stoppages by the coaching staff). Strength training utilized free weights and was based on a combination of multi-joint strength and power exercises. Sessions included 4-6 exercises such as primary and assistant strength and assistant power exercises. The repetition range for assistant power exercises was fairly low (3-5), whilst core and assistant strength exercises had a somewhat more variable repetition range (4-8). There was a ~4 hour difference between endurance and strength sessions.
From a practical stand point of view endurance training preceded strength training due to the fact that the morning session also included technical/tactical training and performing strength exercises would have affected the subsequent execution of the technical drills. On the contrary, endurance training could easily be executed following the technical/tactical part of the morning session.
Recent evidence in the area of molecular biology tends to support the completion of strength after endurance (5). Based on the activity of enzymes AMPK (marker of endurance training adaptations) and mTORC1 (marker of strength training adaptations), if endurance is performed first and strength latter on the day, the AMPK produced during the endurance activity will switch off as soon as recovery occurs and will not interfere with the strength training session. In addition the mTORC1 that will be produced by the evening strength session will remain elevated for the remaining of the day, only to be switched off by the production of AMPK during the endurance session the next morning.
In accordance with above evidence our study demonstrated small by practical improvements in velocity at 4mM (V4) and CMJ for both starters and non-starters from September to January (4). Therefore both practical reasons as well as meaningful performance enhancement may suggest performing strength session after the endurance session (following at least 3 hours of recovery) in professional soccer.
- McGawley K, Andersson PI. The order of concurrent training does not affect soccer-related performance adaptations. Int J Sports Med, 2013; 34:983-990.
- Enright K, Morton J, Iga J, Drust B. The effect of concurrent training organisation in youth elite soccer players. Eur J Appl Physiol, 2015; 115:2367-2381.
- Makhlouf I, Castagna C, Manzi V, Laurencelle L, Behm DG, Chaouachi A. Effect of Sequencing Strength and Endurance Training in Young Male Soccer Players. J Strength Cond Res, 2016; 30:841-850.
- Papadakis L, Patras K, Geogoulis AD. In-season concurrent aerobic endurance and CMJ improvements are feasible for both starters and non-starters in professional soccer players: A case study. J Aust Strength Cond, 2015; 23:19-30.
- Baar K. Using molecular biology to maximize concurrent training. Sports Med, 2014; 44:S117-S125.