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Aerobic Training Adaptations through Aerobic Exercise and Resistance Training

Updated: Oct 28, 2023

Resistance Training Overview

• There are many different uses for resistance training

Endurance Training – using high repetitions and light loads, with little rest in between to increase mitochondrial Density, Capillary density of surrounding muscle, Increasing Oxygen use in type 1 muscle fibers, and improving lactic acid clearing and utilization

Hypertrophy Training – Increasing muscle mass through inducing micro-tears in muscle tissue/fibers. Usually acquired through moderate loading and moderate-high repetition ranges with short rest times

Strength Training (Nervous System Training)Increasing type 2 muscle fiber recruitment using heavier loading and longer rest times due to nervous system compensation.

Resistance Training for Endurance

• Resistance training for endurance and regular aerobic exercise can be beneficial for runners as light weight and the high repetitions train the type 1 muscle fibers to be more oxidative (better efficiency in oxygen use) by influencing more mitochondrial availability, increasing capillary density, and increasing your lactate threshold for better substrate usage and increased oxygen availability.

• The high rep range and low weight can also be good for injury prevention and a good addition to traditional running programs

Adaptations to Endurance Focused Resistance Training and Aerobic Training

Mitochondrial Adaptations

 Mitochondria are organelles in cells that use oxygen to create Energy (ATP)

Mitochondrial gains- Type 1 muscle fibers naturally have more mitochondrial capacity than its type 2 muscle fiber counterpart, which allow it to be more efficient at utilizing oxygen with the trade-off of less power/strength compared to type 2 muscle fiber

• Through consistent aerobic training, and endurance resistance training, you can influence the addition of more mitochondria in the muscle fiber cells. Cells can have more than one mitochondria

• This leads to better usage of oxygen, which increases the ability to create ATP (the energy that your organs and muscles uses for movement and functioning)

Capillary Density

• Through Consistent aerobic training, your body under goes a process called angiogenesis which is the addition of more capillaries (very small blood vessels around/inside the muscle tissue) to increase the amount of available oxygenated blood to the muscle fibers, and increasing substrate utilization for the muscle cells.

Angiogenesis can be increased within a few weeks of training!

Lactate Threshold

• Your lactate threshold is the point during aerobic/anaerobic training where the lactic acid produced from exercise cannot be cleared at the same rate that it is produced, leading to fatigue and acute soreness

• Increasing your lactate threshold leads to a more efficient aerobic system, ultimately improving the point at which you accumulate lactic acid, meaning you can run faster/harder without as much lactic acid build up, effectively increasing the speed that you can run over a longer time frame

Resting Heart Rate

 Regular aerobic exercise will lower a person’s resting heart rate

o This means that the heart is getting “stronger” meaning that it is able to push more blood through the cardiovascular system.

o This is directly influenced by your Left Ventricle increasing its stroke volume or “preload”; in other terms, how much oxygenated blood it can fit into its compartment. With regular training it becomes more “stretchy” allowing more oxygenated blood to be held, and pushed out for your organs and musculature to use.

Effectively, requiring a lesser amount of heart beats to push the blood through the cardiovascular system at rest, therefore, lowering the resting heart rate.

Set and Rep Ranges for Endurance Resistance Training

3-4 sets of 15-25 reps @ 40-50% E1RM (Estimated One Rep Max)

• Your E1RM is usually found by finding what the heaviest weight you can do for 6-10 reps, and then using a prediction chart or an equation to estimate what your maximum weight for 1 repetition could be

• Typically, a weight you can rep 8 times is about 75-80% your max

• E1RM is not as applicable for non-core lifts

• Core lifts are considered as the bench press, squat, deadlift, and Olympic lifts (cleans, snatches, presses)

Recommendations for Standard Aerobic Training

• If training at a low intensity such as a slow walk, you should try to reach 5-7 days per week, for 30 minutes each day

• If training at a moderate intensity, such as leisure jogging or casual biking, you should try to attain 5 days per week, for 30 min each day

• If training at a high intensity like running at a difficult to maintain rate, or biking to fatigue, you should try to attain 3 days a week for 20-30 min a day

• If your training is a mixture of moderate or high intensity, then you should try to attain 3-5 days per week, for 30 min a day

These are general standards but you should not start out at a moderate or high intensity if previously sedentary, as this can cause cardiovascular complications, and other injuries related to acute bouts of intense exercise.

• When starting endurance training, you should be very mindful of how you feel each day and decide whether or not you need more rest, as over-training injuries are most prevalent in the aerobic conditioning communities.

• Some common injuries are muscle strains and or sprains in the ankles or legs, “Shin Splints” (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome) which is the inflammation of muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around the medial portion of the tibia, or the “inside” of your leg.

• Over-training can also cause bones to lose some density which can result in microfractures.


Ratamess, Nicholas A. ACSM's Foundations of Strength Training and Conditioning. Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012.

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