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Strength Training Increases Endurance Time to Exhaustion During High-Intensity Exercise Despite No Change in Critical Power

Sawyer, Brandon J.1; Stokes, David G.2; Womack, Christopher J.3; Morton, R. Hugh4; Weltman, Arthur2; Gaesser, Glenn A.1

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: March 2014 - Volume 28 - Issue 3 - p 601–609
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31829e113b
Original Research

Sawyer, BJ, Stokes, DG, Womack, CJ, Morton, RH, Weltman, A, and Gaesser, GA. Strength training increases endurance time to exhaustion during high-intensity exercise despite no change in critical power. J Strength Cond Res 28(3): 601–609, 2014—The purpose of this study was to determine whether improvements in endurance exercise performance elicited by strength training were accurately reflected by changes in parameters of the power-duration hyperbola for high-intensity exercise. Before and after 8 weeks of strength training (N = 14) or no exercise, control (N = 5), 19 males (age: 20.6 ± 2.0 years; weight: 78.2 ± 15.9 kg) performed a maximal incremental exercise test on a cycle ergometer and also cycled to exhaustion during 4 constant-power exercise bouts. Critical power (CP) and anaerobic work capacity (W′) were estimated using nonlinear and linear models. Subjects in the strength training group improved significantly more than controls (p < 0.05) for strength (∼30%), power at V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak (7.9%), and time to exhaustion (TTE) for all 4 constant-power tests (∼39%). Contrary to our hypothesis, CP did not change significantly after strength training (p > 0.05 for all models). Strength training improved W′ (mean range of improvement = +5.8 to +10.0 kJ; p < 0.05) for both linear models. Increases in W′ were consistently positively correlated with improvements in TTE, whereas changes in CP were not. Our findings indicate that strength training alters the power-duration hyperbola such that W′ is enhanced without any improvement in CP. Consequently, CP may not be robust enough to track changes in endurance capacity elicited by strength training, and we do not recommend it to be used for this purpose. Conversely, W′ may be the better indicator of improvement in endurance performance elicited by strength training.

1School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona;

2Department of Human Services, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia;

3Department of Kinesiology, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia; and

4School of Sport and Exercise, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Address correspondence to Glenn Gaesser,

Copyright © 2014 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.