Stamina and Strength?

Alright how about a little Pro-Active health science factoid: People, even a lot of personal trainers tend to separate endurance from strength in much the same way they separate weight training from cardio exercise. Big mistake, second only to training dangerously (too fast, too sloppy in form)

Really? Really guys, these aren’t distinctly different animals? Ok first let us explain why they aren’t actually separate yet a lot of people try to rip them apart from one another.


It is ONLY your muscles which move you around, both cardio exercise and strength training are performed by your muscles. No matter what you do it is muscle which makes it happen, your muscle draws on your heart and lungs for help – your cardio capacity does not drive your movement. With cardio it is just extremely light weight, weight so light it makes very little alteration to your body thus little improvement to your fitness. On the other end most strength training has so much rest between sets you lose all the cardio benefit. The lack of cardio in strength training is obvious but what of the claim of lack of benefit from cardio?!

Only heavy weight stimulates your tissues to change, to fortify and adapt against the stressor. Any adaptations from pure cardio are highly activity specific. Test your endurance swimming then jog or spin for two months then re-check, any improvements in swimming endurance will be tiny…almost imperceptible. Your muscles, your only means of physical movement must adapt and change or the endurance increase you note is just skill and tolerance in that specific activity. And bear in mind skill transfer between activities is very, very small if any.


Sometimes specific strength exercises for weak or injured body parts is necessary and then rest is added between sets. The fact is if you strength train moving set to set with little down time your heart will pound and depending on how fit you are you will breathe hard even get out of breath.

Improved strength allows you to continue longer at any activity and we call this stamina, the ability to keep moving at the same intensity. Endurance is more the act of putting up with an activity even when you are significantly weakened, important for a specific sport but little crossover to general fitness.


We know this sounds like it goes against mainstream belief but just remember, someone who runs a solid 10km regularly isn’t suddenly running a marathon anywhere close to the timeframe of a person who practices marathon distances. Don’t be mislead, if someone does do well in a crossover activity it is a matter of genetic predisposition NOT their so called ‘cross training’.

You can see the results of this confusion everywhere, the public at large is not in shape and it is getting more prevalent even though cardio workouts are more common than ever. Don’t take our word for it check our the book ‘Body by Science’ and find out how the public has been somewhat mislead ( ).

Be well, be strong,

Andrew and Tierney

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