The Effects of Concurrent Strength and Endurance Training on Physical Fitness and Athletic Performance in Youth: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Martijn Gaebler*, Olaf Prieske, Tibor Hortobagyi, Urs Granacher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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Combining training of muscle strength and cardiorespiratory fitness within a training cycle could increase athletic performance more than single-mode training. However, the physiological effects produced by each training modality could also interfere with each other, improving athletic performance less than single-mode training. Because anthropometric, physiological, and biomechanical differences between young and adult athletes can affect the responses to exercise training, young athletes might respond differently to concurrent training (CT) compared with adults. Thus, the aim of the present systematic review with meta-analysis was to determine the effects of concurrent strength and endurance training on selected physical fitness components and athletic performance in youth. A systematic literature search of PubMed and Web of Science identified 886 records. The studies included in the analyses examined children (girls age 6-11 years, boys age 6-13 years) or adolescents (girls age 12-18 years, boys age 14-18 years), compared CT with single-mode endurance (ET) or strength training (ST), and reported at least one strength/power-(e.g., jump height), endurance-(e.g., peak. VO2, exercise economy), or performance-related (e.g., time trial) outcome. We calculated weighted standardized mean differences (SMDs). CT compared to ET produced small effects in favor of CT on athletic performance (n = 11 studies, SMD = 0.41, p = 0.04) and trivial effects on cardiorespiratory endurance (n = 4 studies, SMD = 0.04, p = 0.86) and exercise economy (n = 5 studies, SMD = 0.16, p = 0.49) in young athletes. A sub-analysis of chronological age revealed a trend toward larger effects of CT vs. ET on athletic performance in adolescents (SMD = 0.52) compared with children (SMD = 0.17). CT compared with ST had small effects in favor of CT on muscle power (n = 4 studies, SMD = 0.23, p = 0.04). In conclusion, CT is more effective than single-mode ET or ST in improving selected measures of physical fitness and athletic performance in youth. Specifically, CT compared with ET improved athletic performance in children and particularly adolescents. Finally, CT was more effective than ST in improving muscle power in youth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1057
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 7-Aug-2018


  • child
  • adolescent
  • muscle strength
  • cardiorespiratory fitness
  • physical conditioning human
  • resistance training
  • youth sports

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