The Interference Phenomenon

Are you aware of the relationship between strength and aerobic training? Discover the links for improving soccer player performance

Strength training plays a pivotal role in football due to its multifaceted benefits that directly impact player performance on the pitch.

Firstly, increased muscular strength enhances players’ ability to win physical battles, hold off opponents, and maintain possession of the ball and contributes to injury prevention by fortifying muscles, tendons, and ligaments, thus reducing the risk of common football-related injuries like strains and tears.

Improved strength enables players to execute explosive movements such as sprinting, jumping, and changing direction with greater speed and power, enhancing overall agility and athleticism and fosters muscular endurance, allowing players to sustain high-intensity efforts throughout the duration of a match, which is crucial for maintaining performance levels during the demanding 90 minutes of play.

However, as football is primarily aerobic in nature, multiple coaches have claimed that strength training will slow players down or have a negative impact on their aerobic ability. It’s important for us to note that exercise induced adaptations are specific to the type of training performed.

This article will note the interaction between concurrent strength and aerobic training. Before exploring the relationship between the two training modalities, it is important to review the effects that each has on the body.

Endurance training develops sarcoplasmic protein – oxidative enzymes, mitochondrial and capillary density, as well as myoglobin content; while strength training develops contractile proteins – cross sectional area of the muscle, as well as the muscle’s ability to effectively activate motor units. Of the various studies that have investigated the interaction between simultaneous strength and aerobic training, a definitive answer regarding their relationship has not been established.

Some studies have indicated that combining strength and aerobic training results in compromised strength gains, a phenomenon referred to the “inference effect”, whilst others have found reported uncompromised strength, power and aerobic development.

black and white photo of dumbell weights in a gym

Seemingly, any potential negatives associated with concurrent training is related to endurance training compromising strength gains. In fact, strength training has been shown to improve running economy and anaerobic running performance, whilst it has also been found that strength training can be expected to improve concurrently both muscular and cardiovascular fitness in individuals who have low fitness levels.

Heavy resistance circuit training has been found to be quantitatively similar to traditional strength training, but, as it places the cardiovascular system under greater stress, it may be an efficient strategy for concurrent training.

A model was proposed to reduce interference based on intensity of exercise and the location of adaptation (Figure1). Based on this model, interference in strength development is minimized when aerobic interval training is conducted with high intensity (3 – 6RM) resistance training – due to differing demands placed on the body. Conversely, interference would be maximized when high intensity interval training training is performed with 8 – 12 RM strength training.

Figure 1: Zone of Interference (Docherty and Sporer, 2000).

In order to maximize training results when performing concurrent training, high intensity interval training should be performed early in the day, with at least 3 hours recovery before the strength training session. In the case of low-intensity, non-depleting endurance training, the strength session should be performed immediately after, as combining both sessions will be a greater stimulus of endurance adaptations than the low-intensity session on its own.

Nutrition plays an important role in ensuring athletes refuel fully between high intensity interval training and strength training. Leucine-rich protein should be ingested following strength training to maximize protein synthesis, with protein being ingested before bed to assist with overnight recovery.


It has also been found that moderate intensity, short duration endurance training did not affect testosterone response to strength training. With it being observed that modality order, specifically, endurance training followed by strength training might aid testosterone response level maintenance.

It is incredibly important to note that whilst several training programs have been hailed as the best method for gaining strength, in most instances, as long as the threshold tension is developed, increases in strength will occur.

Whilst it is known that the training adaptations of strength and endurance training differ, multiple studies indicate that there is a noted interaction that takes place when combined into a training program.

Single modality training, in the case of endurance training has not been found to be superior compared to a combined program of endurance training and strength training, while concerns of reduced strength gains when combining endurance training and strength training seems to be more debatable.

It has however been shown that modality order, training intensity combinations (Zone of Interference Model, Figure 1), and the nature of endurance training prescribed will affect the training adaptations.

a man doing exercise training on a football field

An important consideration in training response is the ‘Principle of Individualism’ regarding varied training response, which states, “We are all individuals and, whereas physiological responses to particular stimuli are generally predictable, one individual’s precise response and adaptation to those stimuli are largely unpredictable and vary from those of others. The same training regimen therefore may not benefit equally everyone who participates.”

Whilst there are a number of factors that will affect one’s ability to adapt and develop from a training program, an individual’s ability to adapt to a training protocol is not only governed by the training program and lifestyle factors, but by their genetic makeup, and that a “high responder” for one form of training may not necessarily be a “high responder” for another form of training.

To conclude, strength-based training and endurance based training have a role to play in developing football players that are resilient to injury and able to perform at the highest level. What is important when periodizing a schedule is to note down the requirements and training goals associated with each session and make sure that the timing of each does not have a negative impact on the desired training adaptations.

If there is a field session that will be high intensity in nature, it should be performed first in the day and with 3 hours recovery before any strength based session. If there is a low-level field based session that might be more tactical in nature, a strength session can take place immediately after as it will have a positive effect on endurance based adaptations.

“When designing a training program, the nature of the adaptive response must always be considered.”

Brooks, Fahey and Baldwin (2005)


The Certificate in Strength and Conditioning for Soccer Performance provides you with the most efficient and modern training methods, drills and exercises to maximise the speed, endurance and strength of your players for peak match day performance.

Practitioners & coaches will benefit themselves, their players and their clubs through developing in-depth knowledge of the strength & conditioning training methods used by top flight clubs.

The focus of the course is as follows:

  • Provides latest research findings, most efficient training methods and detailed insights into strength based training methods and tactical strategies to help players attain peak athletic performance in matches.
  • Provides an understanding of how to maximise development & preparation of players in a more efficient & modern approach.
  • Understanding how to balance key training elements from a technical, tactical & physical preparation in order to attain peak performance.

You should also consider our additional courses that focus on strength and conditioning, namely, the Certificate in Soccer Science & Performance and the Advanced Certificate in Strength & Conditioning for Soccer Performance.

Outline of the Certificate in Strength & Conditioning for Soccer Performance

Module 1: Competition Induced Fatigue in Soccer – Practical applications for enhancing the recovery process
Lecturer: Konstadinos Jani

Module 2: Injury Prevention in Soccer: Key Strategies & Methods
Lecturer: Aleksa Boscovic

Module 3: LTAD – Building a Model for Academy Development
Lecturer: Alex Segovia Vilchez

Module 4: Biomechanical Considerations within Soccer: Performance LAB Strength & Movement Principles
Lecturer: Dr. Alessandro Lonero

Module 5: Soccer Training: Soccer Specific Warm-Up Strategies
Lecturer: Dr. Dawid Golinski

Module 6: Soccer Specific Endurance Training
Lecturer: Berni Guerrero

Module 7: Speed Endurance Training in Soccer: Application of Science
Lecturer: Dr. Osman Ates

Module 8: Individualisation of Soccer Nutrition: Youth to Adults
Lecturer: Diogo Ferreira

Module 9: Considerations & Applications of Training Load Monitoring in Elite Soccer Players
Lecturer: Dr. Vasilis Kalapotharakos

Module 10: Individual Periodization within a Soccer Team: A Working Model
Lecturer: Jarred Marsh


Who is this course designed for?

This course has been designed for beginner to elite level coaches who want the latest research findings, most efficient training methods and detailed strength & conditioning insights to attain peak performance of their players.

How long is the course?

This is a 15-hour course providing a deep overview of strength & conditioning best practices that can be applied to your own team environment to improve the performance of your players, and thus the results of your team.

Is my progress logged through the course?

After each lecture there is a short multiple-choice test designed to cement your learning. You can access your test results at anytime through your course progress area.

Can I stop/pause a presentation part way through?

Yes, the course is completely flexible. You can go back to a module at anytime and continue from where you left off.

Can I take the modules in any order?

No. The course follows a set structure that must be studied in numerical order. You can only access the next module once you have completed the previous module test.

Is there a time limit on the course?

Yes. This course has a 12-month access limit. You can access the course 24/7 within this period.

Will I get a certificate to show that I have passed the course?

Yes, you will receive a pass certificate provided you have attained the minimum pass grade of 75%.


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