Home   |   Contact   |   Help

Get Our Newsletter
Sign up for our free newsletter to get training tips and stay up to date on Catalyst Athletics, and get a FREE issue of the Performance Menu journal.

Go Back   Catalyst Athletics Forums > Training > Olympic Weightlifting

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 11-14-2007, 08:26 AM   #1
Tom Rawls
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 152
Default Lifting / Endurance conflict

Is it possible to succeed at both Oly lifting and endurance training at the same time?

For the past 7 years, my training has focused on the C2 rower, preparing for 2k races. That's an endurance event and requires lots of meters to be rowed during training. The training that makes one successful at a 2k converts certain fast-twitch fibers to perform more like slow-twitch, and elite rowers have an uncommonly high percentage of slow-twitch fibers (not that I am not elite.)

It seems that the muscular requirements of lifting (brief burst of power) are at odds with the muscular requirements of rowing (extended consistent power). If I were to back off the rowing and concentrate on training for Oly lifts, can I convert some of muscle back to fast-twitch?

Is this slow-twitch/fast-twitch conversion truly an issue?
Tom Rawls is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-15-2007, 03:33 AM   #2
Mark Joseph Limbaga
Mark Joseph Limbaga's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 87

Yes it is possible. I used a tonnage-based program for several athletes and average Joes. ALL of them incresed their strength from 10-25% and their endurance also went up. However, if you wanna increase your endurance for specific events, you still have to do that specific event so your body can also adapt to the stress it gets n that said event.
Mark Joseph Limbaga is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-15-2007, 07:19 AM   #3
Garrett Smith
Senior Member
Garrett Smith's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 4,368

I don't see why doing a program with an OL focus (CA WOD) while subbing in more rowing and rowing assistance exercises (air squats, weighted body rows, etc.) for the Rx'd metcon would cause any issues at all.

Just make the workouts more specific to your needs/desires.

Balck box it, forget about all that theory.
Garrett Smith NMD CSCS BS, aka "Dr. G"
RepairRecoverRestore.com - Blood, Saliva, and Stool Testing
My radio show - The Path to Strength and Health
Garrett Smith is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-15-2007, 09:22 AM   #4
-Ross Hunt
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 166

It's totally possible to make gains on both fronts at once.

I ran distance for about 6 years, from seventh grade through freshman year of college, and then rowed crew for half a year. Then I started lifting weights and put on about twenty pounds. Then I started doing the WOD, and broke my long-distance erg records with hardly any specific rowing training. Then I switched to a combination of CF stuff and oly lifting, and came within ten to twenty seconds of my best high school mile time on just three months of CF-style circuits, sprints, and oly lifts--this while gaining a large amount of strength in both oly lifts and weighing twenty pounds heavier than in high school.

As to excelling... that's a different story. Long years of pounding the ground have made it extremely difficult to gain squatting strength (as opposed to pulling or overhead strength), so I've had to drop all metcon work to move my snatch past bodyweight, and do the split clean rather than the squat clean to cirumvent leg strength limitations. But this may go differently for you; I was definitely slow-twitch dominant even before I started distance running.
-Ross Hunt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-15-2007, 11:07 AM   #5
Mike ODonnell
Senior Member
Mike ODonnell's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 3,596

Originally Posted by Tom Rawls View Post
Is this slow-twitch/fast-twitch conversion truly an issue?
Fast Twitch muscles can act like slow twitch.....but the reverse is not as efficient. Hence a power athlete can do well at endurance events while an endurance athlete will have a harder time converting to power based movements. Powerlifters dont need to run...but runners can benefit from some powerlifting. I would think power based training with intermittent endurance training (via intervals and some steady state) will get you the optimal balance you are looking for.

You can always be a jack of all trades at 80% output/performance....or you can specialize and get 90%+ output. All depends on your own personal definition of "why" you train. After all....a professional hockey player doesn't need to know how to run a marathon.
Fitness Spotlight
The IF Life
Mike ODonnell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-15-2007, 11:16 AM   #6
Steven Low
Super Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 3,091

The simple answer is yes.

That's because oly lifting primarily works posterior chain and pushing muscles while rowing works your pulling muscles and some posterior chain. Good overall combination. But obviously you're going to have some biasing of your pulling towards type I fibers and pushing and posterior chain towards type II.

That's if you wanted a physiological reason..
Steven Low is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-15-2007, 12:40 PM   #7
Tom Rawls
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 152

thanx for the replies.

My training bias for the last half dozen years has been decidedly sport specific, middle distance on the erg. I'll be interested to see what happens as I shift the emphasis.

Doesn't rowing also rely largely on the posterior chain? The drive is done with the legs (quad/glute) with the core held stable (and seems an awful lot like a sitting power clean). The pull at the finish provides a relatively minor contribution to the overall drive.
Tom Rawls is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-15-2007, 01:17 PM   #8
James Evans
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: London
Posts: 594

Tom, are you purely an indoor specialist? Rowing is a power endurance sport. The ergo is a tool used alongside (many) others - although there are coaches out there who do not believe in gym based strength work.

Here's a quote from Andy Hodge, 2005 & 2006 World Champion with the British Coxless Four:

"Rowing requires both strength and endurance. We don't look for extremes of long distance or sheer power. We need our muscles to put out a high, sustained power output. We do endurance sessions of one to two hours to increase the oxygen going to the muscles, heavy weights to grow muscle and high-rep, low weight circuits to train muscles to go through the burn."

Snatches, cleans, RDLs, snatch grip deadlifts, squats etc. are all really important. Add in inverted rows and also an exercise I have not seen out of rowing circles, the bench pull. Think of a bench press the wrong way round, you lie face down on bench that is higher than normal to equate to arm length and pull the bar to the chest. Pressing movements like the bench itself are also very important to equalise the imbalances of participating in an exclusively pulling sport (actually, that's not entirely true because the power of each stroke comes from leg drive but this is one sport where pulling is the king over pushing).

Plyometrics also have a place. A big one with the GB boys is med ball snatches where you throw the ball above your head for height.

Have a hunt around on the net or I could dig out some stuff for you.
James Evans is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-15-2007, 01:19 PM   #9
James Evans
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: London
Posts: 594

And Tom, sorry hadn't read your reply carefully, yes you are right on the dominant mechanics of the stroke.
James Evans is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-15-2007, 02:45 PM   #10
Tom Rawls
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 152


Yes, I'm purely an indoor rower. I learned to scull (poorly) a couple of years back, but it's not that convenient to do where I am, so I have been content to yo-yo on the I-beam.

I've done some research on strength training and rowing and the results appear conflicting. Stephen Seiler, whose site you may have seen, is undecided.


"If you are a rower, I am not sure what to tell you exactly. Increased upper body strength may allow better work distribution and therefore slightly improved rowing economy but I don't know that for sure. The act of rowing training already improves the rower's ability to generate force with both legs simultaneously compared to untrained people. Much of the rowers strength depends on coordination, not just muscle mass. Rowing has a mixed tradition when it comes to strength training. Some great programs do a lot, others do none. So the jury is still out. More on all this when I can be more definitive."


"My opinion is that the young, or new rower can benefit from a general weightroom based strength training program of the type outline above. However, the already well trained rower probably has little to gain from further increases in "weightroom strength". Movement specificity is critical."

Until now, I've chosen to concentrate on rowing, having concluded that work on the machine will produce the best results given limited time for training. But I've gotten a bit bored with erg-only work, so I'm expanding my routine.
Tom Rawls is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:49 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 3
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Receive emails with training tips, news updates, events info, sale notifications and more.

Submit your question to be answered by Greg Everett in the Performance Menu or on the website

Submit Your Question

Catalyst Athletics is a USA Weightlifting team of competitive Olympic-style weightlifters with multiple national team medals.

Read More
Olympic Weightlifting Book
Catalyst Athletics
Contact Us
Products & Services
Weightlifting Team
Performance Menu
Magazine Home
Subscriber Login
About the Program
Workout Archives
Exercise Demos
Text Only
Instructional Content
Exercise Demos
Video Gallery
Free Articles
Free Recipes
Recommended Books & DVDs
Olympic Weightlifting Guide
Discussion Forum
Weight Conversion Calculator