Gym-Based Muscular Endurance Criticism

  • Creator
  • #79931
    niall f

    What do people think of the idea that gym-based sessions are for strength and power, not endurance? The running coach Jason Fitzgerald calls this the most common mistake in running athletes’ strength training (see In this understanding, we don’t need to train muscular endurance in gym-based workouts because we get enough endurance stimulus in our primary activities; gym sessions are for building strength and runs are for building endurance. This contrasts with the Uphill Athlete approach, which prioritises gym-based ME sessions in certain phases of training. Is this a valid criticism of gym-based ME?

  • Participant
    Vincent on #79985

    I think its a valid criticism and other well known endurance coaches have made the same critic. If you look up elite endurance athletes, none of them do resisted specific ME type thing. The same debate happen long ago in the cycling community with big gear low cadence hill intervals. This was debunked a while ago. I love UA phylisophy but I keep questioning the ME method in my reflexion. ME doesnt train strength and it doesnt train endurance. I wish they’d have actual scientific basis to back up their method other then an obscur soviet dude’s work from over 50 years ago.

    Bruno Schull on #80125

    This is above my pay grade, but I’ll offer some ideas.

    First, do either of you see a distinction between gym-based ME workouts, and outdoor/specific ME workouts. The original question seems to refer only to gym based ME training, while the answer seems to address all ME training.

    Second, as a general rule, I would be skepticaL to discard ideas promoted by UA–as I am sure you know, they are informed by a long history of training at the highest level. If not UA, who should we trust?

    Third, if ME workouts are effective, either gym or outdoor, it’s probeven individual, with results varying depending on the athlete and the sport.

    How to make sense of it all? Try it for a season or two and see what the results are for you?

    Vincent on #80128

    thanks for your reply
    to answer your points

    1- outdoor or gym based is the same to me

    2- I do not discard the idea entirely. But having followed (and being trained in) exercise science for several years I keep questioning the idea in my personnal reflexion. ME seems like over-specificity applied to tempo training. The fact that there is little to no scientific evidence to back the protocols up is what keeps me reflecting on the concept. As I said, top level endurance athletes need to produce a lot of power (cycling, track cycling, running, rowing) and none of these endurance athlete use specific resisted training method like ankle weights, big gear of the bike, weighted boats… I would not assume everything UA says is golden just because they are UA. I love what they do, love the book, but will take the right to criticise some of their concepts especially given the lack of evidence and the critics put out by other endurance coaches. Appeal to authority is never a strong argument.

    3- I have tried it for myself for a while and I cannot say im much stronger uphill doing weighted carries VS running and doing specific intervals.

    Bruno Schull on #80134

    That’s a rational, evidence based response. I appreciate that.

    Question: what sport are you approaching this from? Trail running? That’s my guess, but I’m not sure–please correct me if I’m wrong.

    I come from the mountaineering side–much lower intensity work (most of the time) sometimes with heavy loads.

    You may well be right for a sport like trail running–doing weighted carries uphill may not benefit uphill running speed.

    However, for relatively slow, uphill, weight bearing work, like in mountaineering, I finds that the outdoor weighted ME works really helps. Basically, it’s an intense, specific motion.

    Hiking relatively slowly uphill with significant weight on your back seems like it would involve a somewhat different pattern of muscle activation compared to running uphill as fast as possible.

    Perhaps ME workouts provide specific work for slow, weighted, uphill work?

    I can’t immagine that there is any research out there looking at the effectiveness of different training strategies specifically for mountaineering, but perhaps some research from the military world, such as weighted hiking, rucking, and so on might exist?

    Anyway, it’s an interesting discussion, and remains an open question for me.


    Vincent on #80142

    definitely an open discussion

    im approaching this mostly from an alpine climbing perspective (long days on your feet, approaches with gear, etc) and also from a fast hiking/trail running perspective although I would not qualify myself as a trail runner.

    It makes total sense that weighted uphill carry would help, but then again, a lot of things have made sense in the sports science unworld untill they were totally debunked/proven wrong.

    Walking uphill with a pack does create greater time under tension VS running. In both cases there are decent forces applied to the ground but the time of the contraction is what changes. Reflecting on it, I would think the uphill carry would MAYBE be more beneficial VS the gym based ME. Gym based ME doesnt work strength because the loads are so low, doesnt work endurance because the volume is so low, sort of a middle ground here. Outdoor ME workout really reminds me of tempo efforts but very specific to uphill carry capacity/sports which I keep questioning myself why a good endurance volume + max strength in the gym wouldnt acheive the same thing.

    Dada on #80577

    My two cents:

    Yes you can get ME from running. Z3 or VO2MAX intervals have a huge effect on ME. You don’t get these from Z2 runs. UA philosophy is to train long and slow so ME must come from some sort of training. This is what the ME workouts are for. And the gym ME is very universal since you do not depend on hills.

    Happy to discuss though.


    #skiuphill on #80850

    For me it seems like a way to get ME-stimuli without as high of a stress on the global system as more traditional style Z3-4 work. Faster recovery/less stress, means more potential time for lower intensity aerobic work.

    That being said, those Gym-based sessions completley wrecks me, so even if metabolic recovery goes well, DOMS/biomechanical precautions has to be made.

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