Programming: The Difference Between Strength and Endurance

What is strength? The ability to apply force against a high level of resistance.

What is endurance? The ability to perform an activity for prolonged periods of time.

Does strength training carry over to endurance?

Yes. If you take your squat from 200lbs for 1 rep to 300lbs for 1 rep, you will be able to do 200lbs for many reps. Eventually, however, you will reach the point of diminishing returns.


Ultimately, you are good at what you do. If you want to do high reps, you have to do high reps.

Does endurance carry over to strength?

Yes. If you take your dips from 10 to 40, your weighted dip will increase too. But if you really want to get good at heavy dips, it would be more efficient to do lower reps.

Benefits of endurance training

– mental toughness

For many people, endurance training is harder on the mind than low rep work. A popular example would be an all out set of 20 barbell squats. Most people would rather do sets of 5 than this torture.

– mass increase

Unless we are talking about a super high number, high rep sets could be very beneficial for size.

–  smaller chance of injury

What do you think is more likely to injure you? A one rep max or a set of 10? Both can do it, but heavier weights are less forgiving.

Benefits of strength training

– mental toughness

Very few things can replicate the feeling before a max strength attempt. A 1 RM deadlift requires a mental focus that high rep kettlebell swings can never offer.

– quality size gains

Undoubtedly, heavy weights result in thicker muscles.

– strength gains

The fastest way to gain strength is to train specifically for it.

What about combing both?

You can cycle high rep and low rep training. Below are two possible examples.

Imagine that you can only do 5 dips. This means that when you are doing the exercise, you are still performing strength training. Your first set would be 5, your second 4 and your 3 most likely 2 or 3. You could get from 5 to 20 reps to build a base then add weight and cut the reps to 5.

Another example would be a typical powerlifting peaking cycle. You start a cycle with high reps and each week you add weight until you are doing sets of 5,3,2. That way you get used to high and low reps.

Ultimately, however, the choice is yours. You can train any way you want.

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