I've read at Mark Rippetoe's website that a long distance running is where catabolic process prevail, and muscle/strength gain is where anabolic process prevail.

Therefore, they should somehow impede each other. The organism can adapt and become good at one thing at a time: either strength or endurance. But that's just a speculation.

What's going on in reality?

Looks like triathletes are both good in endurance and in strength and they have pretty good hypertrophy of muscles. So, is the concept above wrong?

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    Just a comment that "pretty good at endurance and strength" doesn't mean they're great at both. Regarding speculation, I think you'd need to find an elite level strength athlete who is also an elite level endurance athlete (in the same season). Otherwise I think the lack of those types of folks is why it's a bit more than speculation. Great endurance and strong? Sure. But elite in both? Not that I can think of.
    – Eric
    Commented Feb 10, 2018 at 18:31
  • I agree as to not possible to be elite in both. But look at iron men in triathlon. A lot of them has quite a good muscle mass and I regard them as "pretty strong" :). Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 11:30

1 Answer 1


It is possible to have both strength and endurance. There are a lot of long distance runners who have significant upper body strength because muscles process oxygen better and help with running.

As Eric says in the comments it is hard to be elite in both strength and endurance training because to be elite at strength training you are all but guaranteed to have to put on some weight while to be an elite runner you will probably need to keep your weight down. These are the adaptations that your body will require as well as the increase in cardiovascular and muscular strength.

Basically the takeaway is that it's possible to be quite good at both. Soccer players are a good example. They can run > 10 miles per game but many maintain a large amount of muscular strength in order to play effectively.

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    Regarding your example of soccer players: It's worth noting that the activity in soccer often is more similar to sprint-based high-intensity interval training (HIIT) than to long-distance running, and that the former is more compatible with strength acquisition and preservation than is the latter. Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 19:23
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    I agree with @ChristianConti-Vock - There is a clear difference in physique between running athletes if you compare sprinters to marathon runners for instance. But I think ford prefect's main point is true; one can improve both aspects. It's just that whatever time you spend improving one thing, is time taken away from improving the other, since both types of training require optimal rest periods as well.
    – Alec
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 19:30

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