Exercise programs have historically achieved adaptation through specificity of training. This principle of specificity has driven the exercise community to view training for endurance or strength as a compromise, to achieve one you must sacrifice the other. Adami et al recently showed that we can indeed have it all, that it is possible to have strength AND endurance, we do not need to compromise one for the other.
In December 2021, Adami et al published a study looking at 30 individuals grouped into either endurance, power, and high intensity functional training (HIFT) groups. This study showed that individuals in the endurance and HIFT groups had significantly higher VO2 max than the power group, however the data showed no statistical difference between the endurance and HIFT groups. When strength was compared across groups, the power and HIFT groups had significantly higher maximum strength than the endurance group, however, once again, no statistical difference was identified in maximum strength between the power and HIFT groups.
Any of the 3 types of training created equal improvements in endurance, power, and strength.
This is not to say there is no benefit to specialized training. An elite marathon runner needs to have elite levels of cardiorespiratory endurance, but their sport does not require the need to squat two times their body weight. The elite power lifter must be able to deadlift multiple times their body weight, but their sport has no need to maintain high levels of cardiorespiratory endurance. The vast majority of individuals do not need this level of specialization, they need to have adequate levels of both strength AND endurance (among many other physical skills) to meet the demands of their daily activities. HIFT programs such as CrossFit can help individuals achieve these levels without compromise.
If you are interested in learning more about high intensity functional training programs such as CrossFit, come see one of our doctoral trained Boulder Physical Therapists. Our doctors of Physical Therapy are the ideal provider to introduce you to a high intensity functional training program in a safe and supervised manner.
Adami PE, Rocchi JE, Melke N, De Vito G, Bernardi M, Macaluso A. Physiological profile comparison between high intensity functional training, endurance and power athletes. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2021 Dec 1. doi: 10.1007/s00421-021-04858-3. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34853894.