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Abstract

Resistance training produces an array of health benefits, as well as the potential to promote muscular adaptations of strength, size, power and endurance. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) regularly publish a position stand making recommendations for optimal achievement of the desired training goals. However, the most recent position stand (as well as previous ones) has come under heavy criticism for misrepresentation of research, lack of evidence and author bias. Therefore this paper proposes a set of scientifically rigorous resistance training guidelines, reviewing and summarising the relevant research for the purpose of proposing more logical, evidence-based training advice. We recommend that appreciably the same muscular strength and endurance adaptations can be attained by perform-ing a single set of ~8-12 repetitions to momentary muscular failure, at a repetition duration that maintains muscular tension throughout the entire range of motion, for most major muscle groups once or twice each week. All resistance types (e.g. free-weights, resistance machines, bodyweight, etc.) show potential for increases in strength, with no significant difference between them, although resistance machines appear to pose a lower risk of injury. There is a lack of evidence to suggest that balance from free weights or use of unstable surfaces shows any transfer-ence to sporting improvement, and explosive movements are also not recommended as they present a high injury risk and no greater benefit than slow, controlled weight training. Finally, we consider genetic factors in relation to body type and growth potential.
Medicina Sportiva
Med Sport 15 (3): 147-162, 2011
DOI: 10.2478/v10036-011-0025-x
Copyright © 2011 Medicina Sportiva
REVIEW ARTICLE
147
EVIDENCEBASED RESISTANCE TRAINING
RECOMMENDATIONS
James Fisher1(A,E,F), James Steele1(E,F), Stewart Bruce-Low1(E,F), Dave Smith2(A,E,F)
1Southampton Solent University, UK
2Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
Abstract
Resistance training produces an array of health benefits, as well as the potential to promote muscular adaptations of
strength, size, power and endurance. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) regularly publish a position stand
making recommendations for optimal achievement of the desired training goals. However, the most recent position stand
(as well as previous ones) has come under heavy criticism for misrepresentation of research, lack of evidence and author
bias. Therefore this paper proposes a set of scientifically rigorous resistance training guidelines, reviewing and summarising
the relevant research for the purpose of proposing more logical, evidence-based training advice.
We recommend that appreciably the same muscular strength and endurance adaptations can be attained by perform-
ing a single set of ~8-12 repetitions to momentary muscular failure, at a repetition duration that maintains muscular tension
throughout the entire range of motion, for most major muscle groups once or twice each week. All resistance types (e.g.
free-weights, resistance machines, bodyweight, etc.) show potential for increases in strength, with no significant difference
between them, although resistance machines appear to pose a lower risk of injury.
There is a lack of evidence to suggest that balance from free weights or use of unstable surfaces shows any transfer-
ence to sporting improvement, and explosive movements are also not recommended as they present a high injury risk and
no greater benefit than slow, controlled weight training. Finally, we consider genetic factors in relation to body type and
growth potential.
Key words: muscular strength, bodybuilding, intensity, genetic
Introduction
It is now widely recognized that resistance training
can be of great value, not only for athletes, but also for
all those interested in optimizing health and longevity.
The health benefits associated with resistance training
include: decreased gastrointestinal transit time (reduc-
ing the risk of colon cancer) [1]; increased resting
metabolic rate [2]; improved glucose metabolism [3];
improved blood-lipid profiles [4, 5]; reduced resting
blood pressure [6, 7]; improved bone mineral density
[8]; pain and discomfort reduction for those suffer-
ing from arthritis [9]; decreased lower back pain [10,
11]; enhanced flexibility [12], and improved maximal
aerobic capacity [13].
For those involved in sport, resistance training can
‘prehabilitate, i.e. prevent potential injuries through
strengthening joints, muscles, tendons, bones, and
ligaments. Enhancing the attributes associated with
physical performance, e.g., endurance, strength,
power, speed and vertical jump, is possible with ap-
propriate resistance training methods [14].
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
[15], through their publication Medicine and Science in
Sports and Exercise (MSSE), publish a position stand
with guidelines for the recommended training for
enhancing physiological strength and fitness (both car-
diorespiratory and muscular) in trained and untrained
persons. However, the latest [15], and previous [16,
17] position stands have received heavy criticisms for
misrepresentation of research and essentially research
bias [18, 19].
In recent years evidence-based medicine has be-
come the norm and it is generally accepted that medi-
cal treatment should be based on the best available
medical evidence gained from the scientific method.
However, it appears that in exercise science such a
method is still not wholly applied by those entrusted
to provide guidelines for efficacious resistance train-
ing. Unfortunately, as Carpinelli [19] noted, many of
the recommendations provided in the ACSM posi-
tion stand [15] were bereft of supporting scientific
evidence, and, even more worryingly, many of the
references cited simply did not support the statements
made (see Carpinelli, 2009, for a detailed critique
[19]. Therefore, in the spirit of scientific practice we
have compiled the present piece as evidence-based
recommendations for resistance training. This article
advances some of the previous critical analyses, clarify-
ing some commonly misused terminology, as well as
reviewing areas previously omitted by organizations
such as the ACSM. Therefore, our aims are to con-
sider the evidence and present scientifically-validated
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Fisher J., Steele J., Bruce-Low S., Smith D. / Medicina Sportiva 15 (3): 147-162, 2011
guidelines for resistance training for healthy asymp-
tomatic adults looking to improve muscular strength
and fitness, as well as dispelling myths, discussing
other points of general interest and suggesting areas
for future research. We should clarify that older adults
(undefined by ACSM [15]) and clinical populations are
not considered within the present article and might be
better suited to alternative methods. Specifically, the
following issues will be considered and summarized:
• Intensity,Load&RepetitionRange
• ResistanceTypes
• Repetitionduration
• VolumeofExercise,FrequencyandPeriodization
• GeneticFactorsandTheirImplications
Intensity, Load & Repetition Range
Intensity
One of the most important considerations within
resistance training is that of intensity [20, 21]. How-
ever, as with all terms used in the scientific literature, it
is crucial that the term is defined and operationalized
in a logical and meaningful way. The general use of
the term in the strength training literature, including
the ACSM position stand, is as a reference to the load
used. For example, and typically, Willardson and Bur-
kett [22] and Fry [23] suggest that it is a common term
forpercentageof1repetitionmaximum(%1RM).We
propose that ‘intensity’, in the truest sense, is the level
of effort applied to a given load, defined as the number
of repetitions performed in relation to the number
possible. Of course it is logical that this definition
permits only one accurate measure of intensity, that
of 100%; when the participant can perform no more
repetitions with a given resistance. Based on this, we
can perhaps define ‘momentary muscular failure’ as the
inability to perform any more concentric contractions,
without significant change to posture or repetition
duration, against a given resistance. We accept that
effort of a participant would vary in relation to load
and repetitions; however, these factors do not combine
to constitute an accurate expression of ‘intensity’. In
factthisexpressionof%RMisexactlywhatitisand
nothing more: a training load given as a percentage of
repetition maximum as opposed to a measure of inten-
sity or effort. The problem with such a definition is the
lack of any consideration of how hard the individual
is working during the exercise. The definition incor-
rectly implies that two persons performing the same
numberofrepetitionsatagiven%1RMhaveworked
at an identical relative effort. This is, of course, not
necessarily the case. For example, Hoeger et al. [24,
25]andShimanoetal.[26]reported1RMvaluesand
respectiveRMsforgiven%1RMsformaleandfemale,
trained and untrained participants. Their data show
large variations in the number of repetitions possible
forthe same%1RM between participants.Indeed,
Douris et al. [27] reported that participants with a
higher percentage of type-II muscle fibers were able
to perform fewer repetitions than those with a lower
percentageoftype-IIfibers,with70%1RM.
Theknowledgeofaperson’s1RMatagivenexercise
(without the addition of knowledge of their fiber-type)
does not provide any accurate basis for prediction of
how many repetitions that person can perform at any
given%1RM.Thisisanimportantissuegiventhatso
much emphasis is placed on training intensity in the
strength training literature, which is puzzling given
that the research evidence does not support the view
thattrainingwitharelativelyhigh%of1RMisimpor-
tant for strength development (see Carpinelli, 2008,
for a thorough review of this issue [28]). For instance,
according to the accepted definition of intensity, if
one individual performs an exercise with a weight of
80%of1RM,andperformsoneeasyrepetitionwith
that weight, this person is training more ‘intensely’
than another individual who performs a hard set to
momentarymuscularfailurewith79%oftheir1RM.
Clearly this is nonsensical. Therefore, when intensity
is referred to within this article we are referring to
the percentage of momentary muscular effort being
exerted,not%1RM,andwewould suggest for con-
sistency and accuracy in the literature, other authors
follow suit.
Momentary Muscular Failure
Willardson [29] suggested that training to momen-
tary muscular failure may provide greater stimulation
to the higher threshold fast-twitch motor units, which
are capable of producing the greatest increases in
strength and hypertrophy. Thus, training to momen-
tary muscular failure is theoretically more beneficial
simply because doing so would ensure recruitment
of as many motor units and muscle fibers as possible.
A common misconception is that heavy weights are
required to stimulate muscular growth, but Carpinelli
[28] pointed out that this ‘heavier-is-better’ principle
is simply unsubstantiated by research. The evidence
shows that lower threshold motor units in the form
of type I slow-twitch, or type IIa fast-twitch muscle
fibers are recruited first, and as these motor units are
fatigued so the higher threshold motor units of type IIx
fast-twitch fibers are recruited [28, 29]. The final rep-
etitionofatrueRMsetwouldbeamaximalvoluntary
contraction due to the effort and recruitment required
asaRMmeansnofurtherrepetitionsarepossible[28]
(irrespective of the number of previously completed
repetitions).However,unlessperforminga1RM,this
would not be the maximal force possible, simply the
maximalforce of the fatiguedmuscle. Perhapsthe
most important aspect of this is simply that to activate
all the motor units within a muscle group, and thus
recruit all the available muscle fibers to stimulate them
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toadapttothetraining,itisnotthe%1RMthatisthe
primary factor but rather the requirement to train to
momentary muscular failure [28].
Willardson [29] reviewed this concept and in do-
ing so highlighted one of the main issues; that little
research has directly addressed the concept of train-
ing to momentary muscular failure whilst accurately
controlling for other variables such as load, volume
andfrequency.Giventhatitisessentialtocontrolfor
these factors to produce meaningful data only studies
that have done so have been considered herein.
Rodney et al. [30]reported significantlygreater
gains (41.2% to 19.7%) in dynamic strength when
training to muscular failure compared to submaximal
sets of exercise. Similarly, Schott et al. [31] reported
significantly greater gains in isometric strength when
training to failure compared to stopping the exercise
short of failure (24.9kg to 14.3kg) and Drinkwater et
al. [32] reported significantly greater dynamic strength
gains (9.5% to 5%), and also peak power for a bench
press throw exercise when training to muscular failure
compared to not training to failure (40.8W/10.6% to
25W/6.8%). These studies varied in the number of sets
and number of repetitions completed. From a single
set of 6 repetitions [30] to 4 sets of 6 repetitions [32]
and 4 sets of 30 second isometric muscle action [31]
but each study reported that training to momentary
muscular failure produced significantly better results.
Other studies reported no significant difference
between training to momentary muscular failure and
training submaximally [33, 34]. Izquierdo et al. [34]
measured training 2 x/week for 45-60 minutes over 16
weeks, and Folland et al. [33] considered training leg
extensions 3 x/week over 9 weeks. Notably Folland et
al. [2002] reported no significant difference in strength
increase between a training time of around 7 minutes
(to failure) and 25 minutes (not to failure), suggesting
that the same strength gains could be achieved in ap-
proximately 30% of the time by training to momentary
muscular failure.
The evidence suggests that individuals should be
encouraged to train to momentary muscular failure,
as this appears to maximize muscle fiber recruitment
and, according to most of the research to date, will
maximize gains in strength and power.
RPE
An alternative method of measuring intensity is
thatoftheBorg‘RatingofPerceivedExertion’Scale
(RPE;35)oraderivative.AdaptationsoftheRPEscale
have been used in various size scales considering both
overall (O) and active muscle (AM) effort for different
loads [36–43]. However, it seems logical that training
to momentary muscular failure would elicit a higher
exertion or effort level than training submaximally,
irrespective of load, thus questioning the efficacy of
RPEduring resistancetraining.GearhardtJnr.etal.
[37,38]reported significantlylower RPE valuesfor
participantsperforming15 repetitions at30%1RM
compared to those performing 5 repetitions at 90%
1RM.However,it isquestionable how these efforts
were able to keep the total workload equal between
groups. The earlier section discussing intensity, along
with the aforementioned research by Hoeger et al. [25]
and Shimano et al. [26], suggests that 5 repetitions
at90%of1RMisclosertomaximalpossiblerepeti-
tions (and thus equates to a higher intensity) than 15
repetitionsat30%of1RM.Thisisthemostcommon
methodological flaw in such studies; the apparent as-
sumption that load x repetitions = intensity. This, as
noted earlier, is a fallacy.
In fact, all of these studies are probably report-
ing the same results; perceived exertion increases
the closer a participant trains to his or her maximal
intensity, irrespective of the load used. To accurately
measure a participant’s perceived exertion when
trainingatagiven%1RM,amorelogicalstudydesign
would involve performing repetitions to momentary
muscular failure. The value of such a study would be
todeterminewhetherthereisvariationinRPEbased
around the number of repetitions completed preced-
ingamaximumvoluntarycontraction(MVC),orthe
exercise performed based on the muscle mass involved.
Shimano, et al. [26] considered exactly this and
reported no significant difference comparing 60%,
80%and90% 1RM forbenchpressandbicepscurl
for trained and untrained participants. However the
authorsdidreportasignificantlyhigherRPEfor60%
1RMforthe squat exercise whencomparedto80%
and90%1RM,suggestingthatahigherloaddoesnot
correlate with a greater effort. The authors gave no
explanation for this result; they simply concluded that
when exercises and repetitions are completed to mus-
cular failure, intensity is similar. They concluded that
theuseofanRPEscaleinresistancetrainingmightnot
be beneficial. We concur and reiterate that individuals
should simply be encouraged to train to momentary
muscular failure to maximize results.
Load and Repetition Range
As previously stated by Carpinelli [28] the research
suggests that it is not the load lifted that determines
fiber recruitment, but the fatigue of the lower thresh-
old motor-units resulting in a sequential recruitment
of higher threshold motor units through continued
repetitions. Carpinelli [28] describes the facts and
misconceptions of fiber recruitment, as well as the
heavier-is-better misnomer. As a result we have chosen
not to replicate this work by reviewing the literature
but rather acknowledge Dr. Carpinellis efforts by
recommending the reading of his article [28], and
summarizing his conclusions herein.
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Researchhasconsideredrangesfrom2RMthrough
to100-150RM andfoundno significantdifference in
strength improvements between the results [44–48], with
only one exception; Campos et al. [49] reported a signifi-
cantlygreaterimprovementin1RMforthesquatandleg
press exercises for previously untrained male participants
performing3-5RMcomparedto9-11RM,over8weeks
of training. However, the authors reported no significant
difference in change in muscle cross-sectional area, or
muscle fiber-type, and could not provide any rationale
as to why these differences might have occurred.
Interestingly the ACSM position stand [15] claimed
that maximal strength gains are obtained training with
loadsofbetween1-6RM.However,itisapparentfrom
the above data as well as recent comprehensive reviews
of the literature that the research findings to date do not
supporttheACSM’sconclusion[19,50].Giventhatdif-
ferent repetition ranges do not appear to differentially
affect strength gains perhaps other health related ben-
efitsshouldbeconsidered.Researchappearstosuggest
that to increase bone mineral density (BMD) training
loadsneedtobe80%1RMorgreater[51].Vincentand
Braith[51] comparedtrainingat50%1RM(~13reps)
totrainingat80%1RM(~8reps).Whilsttheyreported
almost identical strength gains, the higher load group
produced significantly greater increases in BMD.
We, therefore, reiterate our earlier suggestion [50]
thatamoderaterepetitionrange(~8-12repetitions)may
be best to increase BMD. The lighter weights suggested
herein may produce a lower injury risk than the heavier
weights necessitated by the ACSM’s recommendations.
The loads required under the ACSM’s guidance will
impose greater force on muscles and connective tissues.
However, more research is required to confirm this
hypothesis. There may also be more favourable ranges
depending on the individual’s predominant fiber-type in
therelevantmuscle.Forexample,Jones[52]suggested
that persons dominant in fast twitch muscle fibers might
obtain better results performing fewer repetitions with
a greater resistance, whilst persons dominant in slower
twitch muscle fiber-type might obtain better results
performing a greater number of repetitions and lighter
resistance. Based on this hypothesis Darden [53] offered
a rule of thumb protocol to determine optimal1 repetition
ranges for different exercises and/or persons, claiming
that it is a rough gauge of muscle fiber-type. However, the
usefulness of this method has not been tested empirically
and we therefore suggest that future research should test
these methods and associated hypotheses.
Muscular Endurance
We can consider two definitions of muscular en-
durance as being absolute; the number of repetitions
performed at a given resistance, and relative; the number
ofrepetitionsperformedatagiven%1RM[18,54].For
example,apretraining1RMof100kgmightproduce
10 repetitions at an absolute value of 70kg, which is also
therelativevalueof70%1RM.However,afteratraining
regimewherethe1RMhasimprovedto120kg,apar-
ticipant will almost certainly be capable of greater than
10 repetitions at the absolute value of 70kg, but likely
still only produce a maximum of 10 repetitions at the
relativevalueof70%1RM(now84kg).Thisexample
showsanincreaseinmaximalstrength(1RM)leadingto
an increase in absolute muscular endurance, i.e., an in-
crease in number of repetitions at the fixed submaximal
weight.Researchsupportsthisconcept[55].However,
the research does not support the idea that the same is
true of relative loads, but rather that similar maximal
repetitions are possible [55, 56].
The ACSM [15] stated that when training for muscu-
lar endurance, persons should use light-moderate loads
(40-60%1RM)andperformhighrepetitions(>15)us-
ing short rest periods (<90s). They repeat citations from
their 2002 position stand [57, 54] which were heavily
criticized for conclusions that were not supported by
their data [18]. The only study that appears to support
the ACSM’s position is that of Campos et al. [50] who
reportedsignificantlyhigherrepetitionsat60%1RMfor
3 lower body exercises for participants training at higher
repetitions(20-28RM)comparedtolow(3-5RM),and
moderate(9-11RM).Incontrast,otherstudiesdonot
support the hypothesis that higher repetition schemes
are more effective in increasing muscular endurance.
Anderson and Kearney [57] examined the effects of
3 different training protocols on muscular endurance
(measured by the number of bench press repetitions
participantscouldperformwith27.23kg).Participants
weredividedintolowrepetition(3setsof6-8RM),me-
diumrepetition(2setsof30-40RM)andhighrepetition
(1setof100-150RM)groups,eachtraining3xweek
for 9 weeks. No significant between-group differences
in improvements in muscular endurance were found.
Stone and Coulter [54] examined the effects of 3 train-
ingprotocols(3x6-8 RM,2x15-20 RM, and 1x30-40
RM)onthemuscularenduranceofuntrainedfemales,
each of whom trained 3 x week for 9 weeks. Again,
no significant between-group post-test differences in
muscular endurance were found.
Summary:
• PercentageRMdenotestheloadtrainedwith,rather
than effort or intensity.
• Onlyoneaccuratemeasureofintensityispossible,
that of maximal effort, 100% intensity or repetition
max(RM).
1 The term ‘optimal’ herein is defined as ‘the best attainable or most favourable with regard to maximally enhancing muscular strength, within the context
of current evidence
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• Researchdoesnotunequivocallysupportthesupe-
riority of a particular repetition range for enhancing
any aspect of muscle function.
• Trainingto maximaleffort, or‘momentarymus-
cular failure, is necessary to recruit all the possible
motor units and muscle fibers.
Resistance2 Typ e s
A recent review article [58] identifies several types
of resistance. One type is constant resistance, e.g. free
weights (although it is worth noting that whilst the
mass of a dumbbell or barbell remains constant, the
resistance or torque applied to the muscular system
itself varies as lever length changes throughout a range
of movement). Other types described are variable; e.g.
resistance machines (where the resistance is system-
atically varied according to a cam or series of cables,
pulleys or linkage leverage chains), accommodating;
e.g. hydraulics (where resistance is proportional to
force applied), and pneumatic (which compresses air
as the form of resistance). It is beyond the scope of this
article to explore the biomechanical advantages and
disadvantages of resistance types. However as some
authors have claimed that certain types of equipment
are more effective for enhancing strength it is impor-
tant for us to examine the evidence relating to such
claims. For example, the ACSM [15] has argued that
free weights are better than machines for enhancing
strength, whereas others have claimed that variable
resistance machines are more effective [59]. It is
noteworthy that much research has compared one
training method against another but only performed
pre and post-testing on each respective method [e.g.
60, 61]. In this case, without a cross-over testing ele-
ment such a design clearly favours the group training
on the equipment on which they will be tested as they
will be more skilled at using the equipment in question.
Therefore, research following such a design has been
excluded from our consideration.
Manystudies havealso used EMGto interpret
muscle activation or force production, most notably
free weights and resistance machines [62, 63], stable
and unstable surfaces [64] and vibration training [65-
67], each of which are examined herein. However, the
limitationsofattemptingtoaccuratelyuseEMGdata
to interpret activation or muscular force production
include (but are not restricted to): crosstalk (readings
from synergist muscles) depth of active motor units
from surface electrode, amplitude related to motor
units and muscle fiber-types, variable firing rates,
muscle-fiber length, velocity and contraction type [68-
74].Possiblymostproblematicisthefactthat,although
in general there is a positive relationship between
forceproductionandEMGactivity,therelationship
is often not linear, particularly in large muscles such
as the biceps and deltoid, and particularly so at high
muscleactivationlevels[75,76].Therefore,EMGis
very limited in what it can tell us regarding the merits
of different equipment or exercises. With this in mind
andsinceEMGdatagivesnoguidanceastooptimal
trainingbenefits,researchconsideringEMGdatahas
been excluded from this article. However, we explore
findings below from studies providing an unbiased
test of different types of equipment using muscular
performance measures.
Free Weights and Machines
Researchhasreportednosignificantdifferencein
strength gains between groups training on resistance
machines and undertaking free weight exercises
[77-79]. Other research has utilized a leg extension
machine but compared variable to constant resistance
(by switching between a cam and a circular disc),
once again reporting no significant difference in the
strength increases between groups [80]. Despite this
the ACSM [15] suggest that free weights have an ad-
vantage over resistance machines due to purported
greater neural activation. The ACSM [15] cite a single
reference to support their statement which found the
only significant difference to be in the activation of
theanteriorand medial deltoidat60% of1RM be-
tween a free weight and machine bench press exercise.
However,this articleuses EMGto measureactiva-
tion which, as clarified previously, does not permit
conclusions to be made regarding the effectiveness of
the exercise. The authors also reported no significant
difference for other muscle groups or at heavier loads
[81], something the ACSM failed to mention. As such
this recommendation by the ACSM is indicative of a
bias towards free-weight resistance forms, which is not
justified by the scientific evidence.
Interestingly, Schwanbeck et al. [62] found that the
8RMforaSmithmachinesquatwas14-23kgheavier
than for a free weight squat. Whilst further research is
necessary, this could indicate that force production is
diminished where balance is required. That is, where
there is a need for balance the muscle fibers likely fa-
tigue performing the skill of balancing the load rather
than contracting against the resistance.
Hydraulic, Pneumatic and other resistance forms
Researchhasalsocomparedgroupstrainingwith
free-weights and hydraulic equipment and reported no
significant difference between strength improvements
2Resistanceinthiscasecanbestbedescribedas‘force acting against muscular contraction’. In the context of an eccentric contraction where the resistance
might appear to be working with the contraction we believe that due to the desirably controlled nature of the movement, the muscle is still acting to slow
the resistance, and thus acting against it.
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for each group [82]. However, Hunter and Culpepper
[83] reported greater gains in isokinetic leg exten-
sion strength in participants limbs trained with fixed
mass (free-weight) resistance compared to hydraulic
resistance. It is perhaps worth noting that a failure of
hydraulic exercise to provide eccentric resistance [84]
could be a factor inhibiting strength production.
Other studies have considered the use of pneumatic
machines, although many articles have used it as a
method of testing [84, 85] or training [86] without
any direct comparison to other training methods.
Obviously further research is warranted within this
area to be more conclusive regarding its use. Finally,
Dorgo,King andRice [87] reported no significant
difference in muscular strength and muscular endur-
ance improvements between groups training with
free-weights and manual (partner applied) resistance.
Overall, therefore, the extent of the research does not
support one training modality over another, it seems
only to reflect our existing knowledge that a muscle
fiber does not recognize a difference between types of
resistance; it simply contracts, or it does not.
Based on the research presented, choice of resis-
tance type appears a personal preference. However,
we should also consider the health and safety element
associated with resistance training. Kerr, Collins and
Comstock [88] revealed statistics around weight train-
ing related injuries. Their data showed that between
1990 and 2007 of the estimated 970, 801 Emergency
Department visits in the USA associated with weight
training, 90.4% of these were free weight related. In
addition, persons using free weights sustained a greater
proportion of fractures/dislocations (23.6%), com-
pared to machine based resistance (9.7%). Of course
we cannot make assumptions as to what proportion
of people training with free weights or machines these
data represent, or the training experience of those per-
sons suffering injury. However, the statistics would still
suggest that the use of free weights presents a greater
potential risk of injury than machine based resistance.
For persons with a finite time resource it might also
be worth considering the additional time required to
load and unload a barbell, compared to repositioning
a pin in a weight stack, or selecting a resistance from
a dial.
Vibration Training
Due to the growing popularity of vibration train-
ing(VT)orwhole-body vibration(WBV),areview
article such as this would not be complete without the
consideration of such equipment. The theory behind
the efficacy of vibration training is related to the fact
that Force = Mass x Acceleration (where typically mass
would be increased by external resistance requiring
a greater force to be applied). Cardinale and Bosco
[89]suggested thatVT can affect the acceleration
aspect of this equation to between 3.5 and 15g [where
g represents the Earths gravitational pull (9.81m.s-2)]
This in turn would increase the force requirement and
muscle-fiber recruitment.
VThasbeenconsideredintheareasofpower[90,
91], and recovery [92] amongst others. However, in the
present article it shall be considered only in relation to
the ability to chronically improve strength. Our litera-
turesearchfoundnoarticlesdirectlycomparingWBV
against resistance training, though many considered
the effectiveness of resistance training with or without
theinclusionofWBV.Ronnestad[93,94]reportedno
significantdifferencesin 1RM improvementsinthe
squat exercise when comparing 5 weeks of training
with or without a vibration platform. Moran et al.
[66]andLuoet al. [95]alsoreportednosignificant
difference in strength improvements when consider-
ing a dynamic bicep curl and leg extensor exercises,
respectively with and without direct vibration. Indeed
a review by Nordlund and Thorstensson [96] reported
no significant differences between groups training
withorwithouttheadditionofWBV.
Roelantsetal.[97]comparedWBVtrainingagainst
a general fitness program that included cardiovascu-
lar and resistance exercise, in untrained females, and
reported no significant difference between groups
in isometric and isokinetic strength improvements.
The authors also reported that neither group made
significant changes to body weight, percentage body
fat, or skin-fold thickness over the 3 x/week, 24 week
program. However, the researchers did not match
training intensity or training volume, limiting the
conclusions that can be drawn from the study.
The research to date appears not to support the
useofVTforimprovingstrengthtoagreaterextent
thanresistancetrainingalone.However,Liebermann
and Issurin [98] reported significantly lower ratings
of perceived exertion with identical absolute values
when a vibration stimulus was applied through the
resistance.OtherliteraturesuggeststhatshouldWBV
be used, vertical vibrating platforms rather than os-
cillating platforms, as well as higher frequencies and
larger amplitudes appear to catalyse more favourable
adaptations [99, 100]. We conclude by suggesting that
while at present the literature suggests that there is
littlebenefittoincorporatingWBVtraining,thereis
significant scope for future research within this area.
As an additional note, whilst no data exists regard-
inginjuries directly associated withWBV training,
Jordanetal[101]providedanoverviewoftheareaand
considered the physiological hazards associated with
exposure to vibration. The authors noted the impor-
tance of pre-screening and suggested that frequencies,
amplitudes and durations should be carefully consid-
ered and managed throughout a training protocol.
WesuggestthatshouldtheuseofWBVtrainingbe
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undertaken it is done with the same caution as other
forms of resistance exercise.
The issue of specificity
In their position stand [15], the ACSM argued that
free weights are preferable to machines for athletes
strength training because the former can mimic bet-
ter the movement patterns involved in sporting skills.
Surprisingly for such an important claim, the authors
provided no research evidence to substantiate it.
There is no evidence that skill development is aided
by the performance of resistance exercises that bear
some superficial resemblance to skills performed on
the sports field. Skill enhancement is highly specific,
with little correlation between the performances of
different skills, even when they appear very similar.
For example, Drowatzky and Zuccato [102] showed
that the correlations between performances on dif-
ferent (superficially very similar) balance tasks were
extremely low and non-significant. They concluded
that there is no such thing as a general phenomenon
called ‘balance’. Instead, there are many different bal-
ancing skills, and because an individual is good at one
type of balancing task it does not follow that he or she
will be good at a different balancing task.
Not only is the transfer between superficially
similar motor tasks quite low, but the performance of
tasks in training that are similar (but not identical) to
those used in actual performance can lead to negative
transfer and a concomitant decrease in performance
on the criterion task. For example, Mount [103] ex-
amined the effect of learning a dart throwing skill in
two different body positions (sitting on a chair and
reclining on a table). Not only was performance poorer
after switching position compared to remaining in the
same position, but performance after practice in the
alternate position was poorer than after no practice.
Therefore, the often-made claim that free weights
are superior to machines because they improve athletes’
balance, or that Olympic lifting might enhance sport-
ing performance due to the forceful extension of the
hips, knees and ankles [104] is simply not supported
by the motor learning research. The balance involved
in free weight exercises is specific to that task and will
not aid the athlete unless he or she is a competitive
weight lifter, when of course such lifts will need to be
practised. Indeed research has shown that the transfer
effects of weight training at different loads, velocities
and movement patterns are limited [105]. Interestingly,
in spite of this, Brewer [104] suggests “when training to
enhance sports performance....train the movements, not
the muscles”, and attempts to make analogies of move-
ment patterns between Olympic lifts and rugby, cricket,
judo, tennis and javelin (amongst others).
However, Brewer [104] appears to be offering bad
advice as performing exercises that mimic a specific
skill with resistance added may interfere with the
performance of the relevant skill by altering the ath-
lete’s movement pattern. For example, Montoya et al.
[106] found that the use of a heavily weighted baseball
bat for practice actually reduced the velocity of the
swing when using the normally weighted bat. This is
hardly surprising as it is impossible to swing a heavily
weighted bat as fast as a normal bat, and therefore by
slowing the movement down in this manner the athlete
is effectively learning to swing the bat more slowly, and
will change the mechanics of the swing accordingly.
Therefore, movements that mimic the performance of
a sports skill with added resistance should be avoided.
Core Stability and Stable/Unstable Surfaces
Kibler,PressandSciascia[107]and Akuthota et
al. [108], detail core stability exercise principles and
athletic function, and define core stability as “proximal
stability for distal mobility”, i.e., a strong core provides
a solid base for the movement and forces generated by
the limbs. This is supported by literature that shows
significantcontraction (up to 30% MVC)of core
muscles such as the transverse abdominis prior to
limb contraction/movement [109-112]. This supports
the need for core strength and stability in both day to
day activity and for potentially enhancing sporting
performance and injury prevention.
Whilst the use of unstable surfaces to train these
core muscles has been documented [113] it should be
recognized that they are not essential [114]. In fact
Behm and Anderson [115] consider the use of unilat-
eral exercises and cite research that shows greater ac-
tivation of the trunk muscles with unilateral shoulder
and chest press actions [116]. The benefit of unilateral
exercise as opposed to alternating movements is that
the removal of the contralateral dumbbell eliminates
the counter balance effect, requiring the core muscles
to stabilize the torso. A practical example of this might
be the lateral raise performed with one dumbbell;
shoulder abduction shifts the center of mass (poten-
tially outside the base of support depending on weight
and lever length) forcing the opposing obliques, as well
as other core muscles, to contract to retain the upright
position of the torso.
We fear there has been a misunderstanding of the
need for unstable surfaces with the premise of challeng-
ing balance and overloading the neuromuscular system
[117]. It seems that instead of focusing an exercise on
a muscle, many have succumbed to the concept of at-
tempting that movement whilst challenging their bal-
ance. This often results in decreased force production
due to instability [117, 118]. Whilst few studies exist
comparing chronic strength adaptations to training on
stable and unstable surfaces, those that do reported no
significant difference between groups [118]. However,
some studies lack sufficient duration [119] and utilize
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potentially biased testing methods [120]. For example
Kibele and Behm [120] adopted a standing knee ex-
tension as their test of strength, which would clearly
incorporate a degree of core stability to produce force
throughout the contracting limb. More realistically, an
isometric test would accurately measure the force of
the knee extensors without overly recruiting the core
musculature due to seating and restraints [cf. 28].
As stated in the preceding section, balance is a non-
transferable skill [102], and as suggested by Willard-
son [121] “performing resistance exercises on unstable
equipment will make an individual more proficient at
performing resistance exercises on unstable equipment
but may not enhance the performance of sports skills”.
There is no evidence that supports any form of bal-
ance transference between performing exercises on
unstable surfaces to any other movement pattern or
skill,whethersportingorotherwise. Indeed,Leder-
man [122] discusses specificity and transference citing
studies that have failed to show any strength or balance
improvements in training on unstable surfaces, other
than enhanced strength/balance on that exact unstable
surface. We should also consider the aforementioned
study by Schwanbeck et al. [62], and the possibility
that fatigue occurs earlier in a set where muscle fibers
are recruited for balance rather than directed against
the resistance.
Therefore, not only is there no significant differ-
ence in strength increases from training on stable and
unstable surfaces, but there is also no evidence (or even
a coherent theoretical rationale) for suggesting that
weight training on unstable surfaces could enhance
performance of specific sporting skills.
Summary:
• Theevidencedoesnotsupportthesuperiorityof
one particular form of resistance for gaining muscle
strength, power or endurance. Therefore, it appears
that how one trains is much more important than
the equipment used.
• Ultimately,choiceofequipmentshouldbedictated
by personal preference, convenience and ones at-
titude to risk. However, machines appear to offer a
much lower likelihood of injury than free weights
and are thus preferable from a safety perspective.
• Athletesshould avoidexercisesthat attemptto
mimic the performance of a skill with added resis-
tance as this may detrimentally affect the movement
pattern of the skill resulting in a less efficacious
performance.
• Theuseofresistancetrainingforenhancedfunc-
tion and sporting performance should be based on
muscular strength adaptations, and not neuromus-
cular patterns including balance, which shows no
transference.
Repetition Duration
Another area of interest is that of repetition du-
ration, incorrectly referred to by the ACSM [15] as
velocity. Carpinelli et al. [18] discuss this misapplica-Carpinelli et al. [18] discuss this misapplica-[18] discuss this misapplica-
tion, considering the time for concentric and eccentric
contraction as repetition duration, whereas velocity is
an expression of º/s or radians/s for rotary movement,
or cm/s for linear movement. The ACSM [15] appear
to suggest that shorter repetition durations are more
favourable stating “fast velocities have been shown to
be more effective for enhanced muscular performance
capacities (e.g. number of repetitions performed, work
and power output, and volume)”citingLachanceand
Hortobagyi [123] and Morrissey et al. [124]. In reality
this is simply declaring that a greater number of repeti-
tions can be performed when exercising more quickly,
and is further supported by Sakamoto and Sinclair
[125] with the bench press exercise. However, the
present article, and by our understanding the ACSM’s
position stand [15], are focused on training methods;
that is, what will stimulate physiological enhance-
ments, rather than optimize a one-off performance.
The ACSM [15] continues by recommending that
untrained individuals use slow and moderate rep-
etition durations, and trained individuals include a
continuum from slow to fast repetition durations for
enhancing muscular strength, with no explanation as
to why there might be a need to differ between these
groups. Indeed, the position stand [15] also refers to
Olympic lifting and other ballistic (fast movement) ex-
ercises as beneficial in improving sports performance,
notably vertical jump and sprint times.
However,Johnston[126] considered forcepro-
duction in a case study, reporting little difference in
forces generated or experienced where movement
was performed at repetition durations that main-
tained muscular tension (including 10:10, 5:5, and 2:4
(concentric:eccentric)). Nevertheless, when attempt-
ing to move the load explosively forces increased by as
much as 45% initially but then decreased by 85% for
the majority of the repetition. This is likely due to the
excess force provided to overcome the inertia being so
great that momentum carries the weight through the
restoftherangeofmotion.Johnston[126]suggested
that explosive lifts would likely recruit fewer fibers
due to momentum, and that the diminished recruit-
ment through most of the range of motion would be
less effective for enhancing muscle function. This has
previously been reported by Hay et al. [127] with arm
curl exercises. A study by Tran, Docherty and Behm
[128] considered decrement in force production and
rate of force development, noting significantly larger
decreases following sets of 10 repetitions at a 5:5 rep-
etition duration compared to 10 repetitions at 2:2,
and 5 repetitions at 10:4 repetition durations. This
larger decrease in force production suggests fatigue
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in a larger proportion of muscle fibers, potentially
stimulating greater growth and strength/power gains.
This probably also explains the above-noted findings
that a greater number of repetitions can be performed
using shorter repetition durations: as the required
muscle force and resultant fatigue are lower, suggest-
ing exercises are simply easier than when performed
at longer repetition durations.
Comprehensive reviews of this area of research
have reported that resistance training at shorter repeti-
tion durations produced no greater strength or power
increases than training at longer repetition durations
[18, 129]. The latter study also considered the ap-
plication of Olympic lifting and plyometric exercises
concluding that there is no evidence to suggest that
these techniques can enhance strength and/or sport-
ing performance (including vertical jump and sprint)
to any greater degree than traditional weight training
methods.Also,Bruce-LowandSmith[129]specifically
considered the risk of injury from ballistic exercises,
reporting some disturbing statistics suggesting that ex-
plosive lifting such as that involved in performing the
Olympic lifts can cause injuries to the wrist, shoulder,
elbow and lumbar region. For example, Crockett et
al. [130] reported a case study of an NCAA Division
1 basketball player who having trained on a jumping
machine was side-lined due to a sacral stress fracture.
The authors concluded that this was likely caused by
the very high biomechanical loads placed through the
spine in the course of both the jumping and the landing
motion. Bentley et al. [131] reported ground reaction
forces(GRF)for differentrepetitiondurationsof a
squat exercise, reporting significantly higher values
for shorter repetition duration (1s descent: 1s ascent),
compared to medium (3:1) and longer repetition du-
rations (4:2). They also reported significantly higher
values for medium (3:1) when compared to slow (4:2)
repetition durations. Of course, any ground reaction
forces measured are also being transferred through
the joints of the body placing unnecessary stress on
supportingtissues.Bruce-LowandSmith[129]con-
cluded that, particularly given that one of the key aims
of strength training in athletes is to reduce injury risk,
training modalities involving high impact forces or
short repetition duration have no place in the strength
and conditioning of athletes unless there is a direct
requirement to perform the skill of Olympic lifting.
Summary:
• Exercisesshouldbeperformedatarepetitiondura-
tion that maintains muscular tension throughout
the entire range of motion.
• Olympiclifting,plyometricandballisticexercises
remove tension from the muscle and apply greater
forces through joints and associated tissues causing
a greater potential for injury.
Volume of Exercise, Frequency and Periodization
The primary, on-going debate regarding the re-
quired volume of exercise for strength relates to the
recommended number of sets. The ACSM [15] cited
a meta-analysis [132, 133] suggesting that the largest
effect sizes (ES) for strength increases with athletes
occurred when performing 8 sets per muscle group.
Carpinelli [19] considered this meta-analysis, critiz-
ing the authors for the inclusion of studies that failed
to meet their own criteria. In addition their conclu-
sions were unsupported as there were no significant
differences between the ES of the different training
volumes. In fact, most research to date suggests that
there is no significant difference in strength increases
between performing single or multiple set programs
[51, 134-137). For example, Carpinelli and Otto [134]
found that single sets produced similar results in 33
out of 35 studies they reviewed.
Contrary to this evidence, Krieger [138] published a
meta-analysis concluding that “2-3 sets per exercise are
associated with 46% greater strength gains than 1 set, in
both trained and untrained subjects”. However, Krieger
[138] included a study by Kraemer [139] that had previ-
ously received heavy criticism by Winett [136] due to
methodological inadequacies, as well as articles where
groups had not trained to momentary muscular failure
[140].Readers shouldbe wary of meta-analyses that
attempt to consider an assortment of differing research
and provide a single conclusive statement, as Krieger
[138] appears to have done. Indeed, meta-analyses
within this debate [132, 133, 141, 142] have been criti-
cized for their absence of scientific process [137].
The assertion that multiple sets are superior to single
sets has therefore been made despite the absence of
evidence to support this claim. It should also be noted
that the number of sets recommended by the ACSM
appears arbitrary. One might conclude from observation
of data from the cited meta-analysis that more sets in
fact result in reduced gains until the arbitrary number
8 is reached, as no continuum in effect size is demon-
strated [132, 133]. Carpinelli [19] has commented on
this meta-analysis similarly explaining that the data do
not support a dose-response relationship between num-
ber of sets and strength gains. Indeed, the vast majority
of research studies show that performance of multiple
sets of resistance exercise yield no greater gains than
single sets performed to momentary muscular failure
and therefore are not as time and energy effective. In-
terestingly there seems to be no research that focuses
specifically upon variation in the number of exercises
per muscle group. However, there is certainly major
scope for well-controlled studies examining this area.
Frequency
The ACSM [15] suggested the frequency of train-
ing should be dependent upon volume, intensity, level
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of conditioning, recovery ability, number of muscle
groups trained per workout and exercise selection.
They stated that novice individuals should train the
entire body 2-3 x/week whilst intermediates should
train 3 x/week if total body, or 4 x/week if using a split
routine (they do not clarify a training period or other
definition for transition from novice to intermediate).
In fact a plethora of research, reviewed by Carpinelli
etal. [18] and Smithand Bruce-Low[51] suggests
that there is little or no difference between training 1,
2 or 3 x/week for both trained and untrained persons.
The ACSM [15] cited Hoffman et al. [143] as sug-
gesting American football players train 4-5 x/week,
but they fail to clarify that training groups in this study
were not matched for total weekly volume of sets or
repetitions. In fact the 4 and 5 x/week groups in this
study performed less total weekly training than the 3
and 6 x/week groups, which might suggest that it was
not so much the frequency of training but perhaps
the reduced volume that allowed their physiological
development. The authors failed to consider this in
their interpretation of the results.
The ACSM [15] later commented that advanced
weight lifters and bodybuilders should use high fre-
quency training of 4-6 sessions per week, and that
with the inclusion of split (and double-split) routines,
this might increase to 8-12 training sessions per week
(citing as many as 18 sessions per week for Olympic
weightlifters). However, a study by Hakkinen et al.
[144] which the ACSM [15] used to support the ef-
fectiveness of double-split routines (training twice per
day) only considered acute hormonal response and did
not record or report on chronic strength adaptations.
Their reference for Olympic weightlifters training up
to 18 sessions per week is a book by Zatsiorsky and
Kraemer [145] and as such should be considered an
observation rather than an evidence-based recom-
mendation.
The ACSM [17] have previously received criticism
for high volume recommendations by Carpinelli et
al. [18] who calculated that Hakkinen and Kallinen’s
[146] protocol of 14 sets for each muscle group (gen-
erally divided over two daily sessions, performed 3
x/week), amounted to 21 hours per week (including
recommended rest intervals between sets). Of course
this is both unnecessary and unrealistic for most
individuals especially those with athletic/sporting
commitments, as these 21 hours of weight training will
be in addition to their sports practice and any other
conditioning training they need to do, as well as rest
and recovery. Even if such a high training volume was
optimal, something that the research clearly does not
substantiate, it is completely unrealistic to suggest that
athletes spend such a large amount of time engaged
in only one part of their preparatory activity for their
sport. Such a training volume appears to leave little
time and energy for skill development and other as-
pects of training, even for professional athletes, not to
mention amateurs who may also have a full time job
and/or study commitments and a family to look after,
among other essential daily activities. And what of the
individual who is not a competitive athlete but wishes
to optimize strength and/or muscle mass for cosmetic
and/or health reasons? Such an individual would have
to be extraordinarily highly motivated to sustain such
a high volume of weight training, as well as free of any
of the other normal commitments in life that would
preclude such a training regimen.
In contrast to the ACSM’s suggestions an evidence-
based recommendation is that appreciably the same
strength gains can be obtained by working each muscle
once or, at the most twice per week. We would also urge
both trainers and trainees, whatever their experience,
to closely monitor progress in their workouts and in-
vestigate their optimal individual training frequency
using any recommendations as merely a guide.
Variation and Periodization
Periodizationcanbe defined as“the cycling of
specificity, intensity, and volume of training to achieve
peak levels of performance for the most important
competitions” [147]. The ACSM [15] considered this
concept of variation, discussing typical models; linear
(LP);reverselinear(RLP)andundulatingperiodized
routines.LPischaracterizedby‘highinitialtraining
volume and low intensity, and progressed by decreas-
ing volume and increasing intensity’ [15]. The reverse
istrueofRLP,whereasdailyandweeklyundulating
periodization(DUPandWUPrespectively)varythe
load and repetitions either each workout or each week.
Finallyflexible non-linear periodization(FNL) and
autoregulatoryprogressiveresistanceexercise(APRE)
attempt to consider whether a person is physically
and psychologically rested and best prepared to train.
Interestingly the previously noted questionable
definition of intensity reappears within this literature
on this topic. For example the ACSM’s description of
LPcouldbeinterpretedtomeanthateither
• individualsstartaphaseofperiodizationtrain-
ing submaximally, and increase intensity towards
training to momentary muscular failure, or
• individualsshouldgraduallyincreasetheirload
and decrease their training volume (presumably
training to momentary muscular failure through-
out).
BasedonresearchconsideringtheefficacyofLP
where participants have trained to muscular failure
[148, 149] it seems likely that the second example
can be assumed and it is simply the volume being
decreased as the load increases (as opposed to the
incorrectly stated intensity). Indeed, McNamara and
Stearne[150] use FNL periodizationto suggest that
157
Fisher J., Steele J., Bruce-Low S., Smith D. / Medicina Sportiva 15 (3): 147-162, 2011
a person who is not best prepared to train “is given a
workout that utilizes lighter weights and that is less in-
tense”.SincetheauthorsthenprescribedRMworkouts
to each participant we can, once again assume a simple
misuse of the term intensity, and recognize that their
FNLworkoutssimplyvariedtheloadandrepetitions
rather than the intensity.
Of course evidence (given earlier) shows that train-
ing to momentary muscular failure produces more
favourable muscular adaptations. However, the research
surrounding periodization is at best inconclusive as
to which model might be optimal. Buford et al. [151]
reported no significant differences between strength
increasesfromLP,DUP,orWUPprotocols,afinding
confirmedbyotherstudies[149,152].Incontrast,Rhea
etal.[153]reportedthatDUPproducedsignificantly
greaterstrengthincreasesthanLP.Monteiro et al. [148]
found non-linear periodization to be more productive
thanLP,whereas,Mannetal.[154]reportedthatAPRE
producedsignificantlygreaterimprovementsthanLP
in both muscular strength and endurance.
Based on the current lack of clear evidence it is dif-
ficulttosuggestanevidence-basedguideline.Recent
researchconsideringAPRE[154]andFNLperiodiza-
tion [150] would appear to support the logical inclu-
sion of physiological and psychological factors. Both of
these models consider the readiness of the participant
by gauging their level of mental and physical fatigue.
Personsshouldalsoconsiderdelayedonsetmuscle
soreness (DOMS) which is common in both recre-
ational trainers and elite athletes between 24 and 72
hours post exercise [155]. Whilst further detail is be-
yond the scope of this article, we should consider that
DOMS has been shown to cause reductions in strength,
power, and flexibility, all of which would hinder athletic
performance (see 155 for a review). This makes the high
volume training recommendations of the ACSM seem
particularly unrealistic for team sport athletes training
during the competitive season, as heavy weight training
in the days immediately prior to matches would likely
have a negative effect on performance, and immediately
following matches such training would likely hinder re-
covery. Therefore, it is difficult to see how such athletes
could fit in the 20+ hours of weight training per week
that is recommended.
The elements discussed above are obviously impor-
tant for variation in training routines and frequency as
well as providing motivation and mental stimulation,
as opposed to following a pre-determined plan. More
research examining recovery and its relationship to other
sporting physiological parameters is needed on this issue
to enable a truly evidence-based approach to be adopted.
Summary:
• Asingle set performedto momentarymuscular
failure can produce appreciably the same gains as
multiple sets in muscle function. Training most
major muscle groups once or twice per week is
sufficient to attain strength gains equal to that of
training at a greater frequency.
• Noperiodizedplanorworkoutscheduleisneces-
sarily most favorable, but rather physical and mental
readiness for each workout is important.
Genetic Factors and Their Implications
Carter and Heath [156] recognized 3 distinctly
different body shapes; endomorph (a higher propor-
tion of body fat, and generally being ‘round’ in shape),
mesomorph (a higher proportion of muscle mass
and generally being ‘square’ shape) and ectomorph
(a decreased body mass in relation to surface area,
and generally ‘skinny’ shape). Somatotypes are well
recognized in exercise physiology text books [157,
158]. However they are almost never mentioned in
strength training textbooks, magazines, and not within
the ACSM position stand [15].
Other genetic factors have all been found to ac-
count for inter-participant variability in muscle
strength or size, including myostatin (an “anti-growth
genotype, inhibiting muscular development) [159,
160],andInterleukin-15(IL-15).Researchsuggeststhe
geneticvariationintheIL-15RA(receptor-αgene)is
a significant moderator of muscle mass in response to
resistance training [161]. Furthermore other genotypes
include ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), where
theG/GandG/Agenotypeshaveshownsignificantly
greater muscular strength compared with the A/A
homozygotes [162]. There is also alpha-actinin-3
(ACTN3),wheretheR577Xgenotypeisgenerallyas-
sociated with muscle function, contractile properties
and strength/power athletes [163] and could modulate
responsiveness to training [164]. In addition, an-
giotensin converting enzyme (ACE) is important, as
here the D-allele appears to positively affect muscular
strength following resistance training [165]. Stewart
andRittweger[166]provideamorecomprehensive
review of molecular regulators and genetic influences,
and suggest that these genetic effects likely account
for 80-90% of the variation in muscular strength and
cross-sectional area within the research.
Whilst further discussion of these genetic mecha-
nisms is far beyond the scope of this article, it also
seems somewhat redundant to discuss elements that
are beyond the exerciser’s control, which is perhaps a
reason as to why they are so commonly overlooked.
However, their importance is undeniable because
they will predominantly dictate how much muscular
strength and size can be developed to a far greater
degree than training type. For example on a more
simplifiedlevelVanEtten,VerstappenandWesterterp
[167] reported significant increases in fat-free mass
for a mesomorphic group after 12 weeks of resistance
158
Fisher J., Steele J., Bruce-Low S., Smith D. / Medicina Sportiva 15 (3): 147-162, 2011
Table 1. Evidence for Resistance Training Recommendations
Topic Recommendation Supporting
Articles SuggestionsforFutureResearch
Intensity Personsshouldtrainuntilmomentarymu-
scular failure to actively recruit all of the
available motor units and muscle fibres, as
opposed to a pre-determined number of
repetitions.
28, 29, 30, 31, 32,
LoadandRepeti-
tionRange
Personsshould self-select a weight >80%
1RMand perform repetitionsto failure.
Evidence suggests this is optimal for maxi-
mising strength and muscular endurance
gains, whilst helping to improve bone mi-
neral density.
44, 45, 46, 47, 48,
54, 57, 51
Investigation as to whether there
are specifically favorable repeti-
tion ranges based on muscle fibre
type, or specific muscles.
ResistanceType Personsshouldselectresistancetypebased
on personal choice, although evidence appe-
ars to suggest that resistance machines might
have a lower risk of injury than free-weights.
There appears to be no difference in strength
gains between using free-weights, machines
or other resistance types.Free weights and
sport specific movements show no enhan-
cement in sporting performance or force
throughout that movement.
77, 78, 79, 80, 82,
87, 105, 106
The effect of balancing a weight
on force productionDirect com-
parison between strength gains
comparing pneumatic resistance
and variable resistances.
RepetitionDura-
tion
Personsshould maintainsteadyforce pro-
duction throughout a range of motion, and
reduce external forces such as momentum;
movements should be of a pace that ma-
intains muscular tension, not ballistic or
explosive in nature.Faster movements cause
greater peaks in both muscular and ground
reaction forces which likely transfer through
joints and connective tissue, potentially
causing injury.
126, 127, 128,
130, 131
Investigation of Olympic li-
fting and plyometric training
in comparison to ‘controlled’
movements with regard to power
output (Wingate test, vertical
jump test, etc.), sprint times,
1RM,agility,and otherphysio-
logical tests.
training, where an ectomorphic group recorded no
significant differences having followed an identical
training routine. Therefore, it appears that those who
are naturally lean and muscular to start with, can
gain strength and size to a much greater degree than
naturally ‘skinny’ individuals.
The genetic factors above are very important to
consider here because persons such as weightlifting
or bodybuilding champions with impressive strength
or size and most likely the very good genetic pre-
disposition for building such, often work as coaches
and personal trainers and will be called upon to offer
training advice to the less genetically gifted. They may
do so based on their experiences that yielded positive
results. However, anyone with less suitable genetics will
almost certainly not attain the same levels of muscular
strength or size regardless of training program. In the
same sense whilst many athletes, trainers, or body-
builders will judge their training a success because of
their progression in size, strength or other physiologi-
cal attributes, it may still be that an alternative training
program would have yielded even better results.
Conclusion
This article presents evidence-based recommenda-
tions for anyone wishing to improve their muscular
size and/or strength and attain the health benefits
associated with resistance training. It specifically
highlights that the high volume approach advocated
by the ACSM [15] is unnecessary and that equal or
better results can be achieved in a minimal amount of
time. Our recommendations based on the research are
provided in the Table 1. A simple method of monitor-
ing individual progress is the use of a training journal
that allows a more specific and individual routine to
be developed. Because training to momentary mus-
cular failure with a repetition duration that maximizes
muscle tension requires psychological and physical
discipline, we suggest that both mental and physical
readiness, in the form of recovery from previous ex-
ercise, be considered before undertaking a workout.
The guidelines herein question some of the common
recommendations of associations, trainers and trainees
alike, and we urge persons reading this article to con-
sider and review their methods in accordance with the
159
Fisher J., Steele J., Bruce-Low S., Smith D. / Medicina Sportiva 15 (3): 147-162, 2011
Topic Recommendation Supporting
Articles SuggestionsforFutureResearch
VolumeofExerci-
se, Frequency and
Periodization
Personscan obtainappreciablythesame
strength gains by performing only a single
set of each exercise 1 x / 2 x week, compared
tohighervolumeworkouts.Personsshould
train when they feel physically and mentally
ready to do so. Both physical and mental
fatigue have the potential to negatively
affect a workout and/or muscular growth
and development.No specific periodized
routine is unequivocally supported within
the literature.
18, 19, 51, 134,
135, 136, 137,
143, 149, 150,
151, 152, 154
Genetics Personsshould considertheir somatotype
and that their genetics will dictate their mu-
scular growth and development.Previous
success with a routine is not evidence that it
is optimal, genetic differences might dictate
interpersonal differences in volume and
frequency.
156, 157, 158,
159, 160, 161,
162, 163, 164,
165, 166, 167
Greaterinvestigationinto how
genotype affects muscular growth
and development.
research findings, focusing on optimal improvements
for themselves or their clients.
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Received:October10,2010
Accepted:July02,2011
Published:August05,2011
Address for correspondence:
JamesFisher
Department of Health, Exercise and Sport Science
Southampton Solent University
EastParkTerrace
Southampton SO14 0YN, UK
Tel. +44 2380 319 000
E-mail: james.fisher@solent.ac.uk
... Several studies show that training with CF may be more efficient in promoting positive adaptations in hypertrophy and muscle strength (J. P. Fisher, Steele, Bruce-Low, & Smith, 2011, Pinto et al., 2014, Willardson, 2007. However, contradictory findings are demonstrated in some studies (Izquierdo et al., 2007, Sampson & Groeller, 2016. ...
... Therefore, the analysis of the response of the NR between the sets can be an important parameter to confirm or not of the CF, since a decrease in the NR between the sets can be expected in this situation. In moreover, several studies using submaximal sets did not report a decrease in NR between sets(Carrasco-Poyatos, Ramos-Campo, & Rubio-Arias, 2019, J. Fisher, Steele, Bruce-Low, & Smith, 2011, Yan et al., 2019, Yoon, Ha, Kang, & Ko, 2019.This knowledge can clarify the role of CF occurrence or not in a training session, allowing the use and control of this parameter in the various contexts of ST prescription. Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyze the response of the NR between sets as indicative of CF within a session of ST. ...
Article
Full-text available
The practice of strength training (ST) promotes several benefits such as increased strength, endurance, muscle strength, hypertrophy, as well as changes in body composition. Concentric failure (CF)Several studies show that exercise until CF may be more efficient in promoting positive adaptations about hypertrophy and muscle strength, however, it is still unclear at which time of the exercise CF is achieved. The number of repetitions (NR) performed in each set may be influenced by fatigue caused by CF training. The objective was to analyze the response of the NR between sets as indicative of CF within a session of ST. The study included fourteen trained men (25.0 ± 3.5 years old) (5 ± 4 years) who performed three sets with 75% of 1(repetition maximum) (RM) until CF with fixed rest interval between sets. Statistical analysis: Data normality was tested according to the Shapiro-Wilk test. Subsequently the one-way ANOVA of repeated measures was used to compare the variance of the means between the moments and, when necessary, the post hoc test was used for multiple comparisons using Bonferroni correction. Percentage variations of decreasing NR between sets were found, being from the 1st vs. 2nd set (45,3 ± 14,6 %;), 2nd vs. 3rd set (41,4 ± 19,5%), and 1st vs. 3rd set (67,8 ± 15,1%). The NR can be used to identify if the exercise is being performed up to the CF, considering that the NR between sets decreases substantially due to acute metabolic changes.
... Most proponents of resistance exercise to momentary failure often recommend that a relatively low volume is likely sufficient for optimization of adaptations (e.g., Fisher, Bruce-low, & Smith, 2013;Fisher, Steele, Bruce-Low, & Smith, 2011;. Indeed, a growing body of research supports the efficacy of low-volume, single set resistance exercise to increase muscular strength (Carlson, Jonker, Westcott, Steele & Fisher, 2019;Fisher, Carlson, Steele, & Smith, 2014;Fisher, Carlson, & Steele, 2016a, 2016bSchoenfeld et al., 2019). ...
... Morán-Navarro et al. (2017) recently reported that exercise to momentary failure compared with not to momentary failure, even when volume-load matched (i.e., where the load permitted 10 repetitions to momentary failure either 3 sets x 10 repetitions, or 6 sets x 5 repetitions), slows recovery up to 24-48-hr post-exercise. However, exercise to momentary failure is often recommended within lower volume resistance training protocols (i.e., 1-2 sets; Fisher et al., 2011;. The results of the present study suggest that, when using low volumes, the fatigue resultant from resistance exercise using heavier loads performed to momentary failure is recovered within 24 hr. ...
Article
Purpose: The present study compared the fatigue and perceptual responses to volume-load matched heavier- and lighter- load resistance exercise to momentary failure in both a local/exercised, and non-local/non-exercised limb. Methods: Eleven resistance-trained men undertook unilateral maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) testing for knee extension prior to and immediately, 24 hr- and 48 hr- post heavier (80% MVC) and lighter (40% MVC) load dynamic unilateral knee extension exercise. Only the dominant leg of each participant was exercised to momentary failure using heavier and lighter loads, and perceptions of discomfort were measured immediately upon exercise cessation. Results: Point estimates and confidence intervals suggested that immediately post-exercise there was greater fatigue in both the exercised and non-exercised legs for the lighter- load condition. At 24 hr the exercised leg under the heavier-load condition had recovered to pre-exercise strength; however, the exercised leg under lighter- load condition had still not fully recovered by 48 hr. For the non-exercised leg, only the lighter-load condition induced fatigue; however, recovery had occurred by 48 hr. Median discomfort ratings were statistically significantly different (Z = −2.232, p = .026) between lighter and heavier loads (10 [IQR = 0] and 8 [IQR = 3], respectively). Conclusions: This study suggests that lighter-load resistance exercise induces greater fatigue in both the exercised- and non-exercised limbs, compared to heavier-load resistance exercise. These findings may have implications for exercise frequency as it may be possible to engage in heavier-load resistance exercise more frequently than a volume-load matched protocol using lighter loads.Abbreviations CI: Confidence intervals: ES: Effect size: MVC: Maximum voluntary contraction; Nm:Newton meters; RM: Repetition maximum; SD: Standard deviation; SI: Strength index
... Fiber composition also appears to play a role in muscular performance, whereby individuals possessing a greater percentage of type I fibers are able to perform more repetitions at 70% of one-repetition maximum (1RM) compared to those with a higher type II fiber percentage (Douris et al., 2006). Accordingly, it has been proposed that superior muscular adaptations may be obtained by training muscles predominant in type I fibers with lighter loads and those predominant in type II fibers with heavier loads (Fisher, Steele, Bruce-Low, & Smith, 2011). Indeed, there is speculation that the greater hypertrophic potential of type II fibers generally reported in the literature may be a function of the comparative studies employing high intensities of load, and that low-load training may be more effective in targeting the endurance-oriented properties of type I fibers to stimulate further growth (Ogborn & Schoenfeld, 2014). ...
... Finally, isometric strength increases were similar between loading conditions. It has been proposed that muscles composed of primarily slow-twitch fibers may achieve greater hypertrophy from light-load training, whereas muscles composed of primarily fast-twitch fibers may hypertrophy to a greater extent from heavy-load training (Fisher et al., 2011). Results of the present study do not necessarily support this hypothesis, as neither LIGHT RT nor HEAVY RT differentially influenced hypertrophy in the slow-twitch soleus and mixed fiber type gastrocnemius muscles, respectively. ...
Article
Full-text available
It has been proposed that superior muscle hypertrophy may be obtained by training muscles predominant in type I fibers with lighter loads and those predominant in type II fibers with heavier loads. Purpose: To evaluate longitudinal changes in muscle strength and hypertrophy of the soleus (a predominantly slow-twitch muscle) and gastrocnemius (muscle with a similar composition of slow and fast-twitch fibers) when subjected to light (20-30 repetition maximum) and heavy (6-10 repetition maximum) load plantarflexion exercise. Methods: The study employed a within-subject design whereby 26 untrained young men had their lower limbs randomized to perform plantarflexion with a low-load (LIGHT) and a high-load (HEAVY) for 8 weeks. Muscle thickness was estimated via B-mode ultrasound and maximal strength was determined by isometric dynamometry. Results: Results showed that changes in muscle thickness were similar for the soleus and the gastrocnemius regardless of the magnitude of load used in training. Furthermore, each of the calf muscles demonstrated robust hypertrophy, with the lateral gastrocnemius showing greater gains compared to the medial gastrocnemius and soleus. Both HEAVY and LIGHT training programs elicited similar hypertrophic increases in the triceps surae. Finally, isometric strength increases were similar between loading conditions. Conclusions: The triceps surae muscles respond robustly to regimented exercise and measures of muscle hypertrophy and isometric strength appear independent of muscle fiber type composition. Moreover, the study provides further evidence that low-load training is a viable strategy to increase hypertrophy in different human muscles, with hypertrophic increases similar to that observed using heavy loads.
... Most importantly, Kraemer did not report any measure of muscle hypertrophy in any of his five experiments. Consequently, not only did the references cited by Ratamess and colleagues in the ACSM position stand (128) fail to support their recommendations for optimal muscle hypertrophy in advanced trainees, but there was very little credible evidence to support many of their recommendations f o r p e r s o n a l u s e o n l y d o u ż y t k u p r y w a t n e g o (98,131). Nevertheless, Schoenfeld chose to be associated with people who also believed-without any compelling evidence-that higher volume resistance training was superior to lower volume training. ...
Article
Full-text available
Researchers have expressed concern recently for standardization of resistance training protocols so that valid comparisons of different training variables such as muscular fatigue, time under tension, pre-exhaust exercise and exercise order, pyramid and drop sets, amount of resistance (load), range of repetitions, frequency and volume of exercise, interset rest intervals, etc. can be more closely studied and compared. This Critical Commentary addresses some recent review articles and training studies specifically focused on the stimulus for muscle hypertrophy in participants with several years of resistance training experience. It reveals that many of the recommended resistance training protocols have their foundation in some long-held, self-described bias. Blinding of assessors and statisticians, self-plagiarism, authorship responsibility, and conflicts of interest are briefly discussed as well. The conclusion is that most of the published peer-reviewed resistance training literature failed to provide any compelling evidence that the manipulation of any one or combination of the aforementioned variables can significantly affect the degree of muscle hypertrophy, especially in well-trained participants. Although the specific stimulus for optimal gains in muscle mass is unknown, many authors are desperately clinging to their unsupported belief that a greater volume of exercise will produce superior muscle hypertrophy.
... At a recreational and functional level, strength training helps improve the health and quality of life, while decreasing the risk of certain diseases and medical conditions [2][3][4] . Such benefits have been verified by numerous studies, which have also established the proper dose of strength training each population group needs in order to achieve adaptations which result in improved athletic performance or, where applicable, health 5 . ...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: There are numerous scientific studies in which the components of resistance training load have been analyzed, as well as many variables that condition the development of muscular strength. However, only a few studies compared the effectiveness of full body workouts and split body routines. The purpose of the present investigation was to determine which of them is more effective in increasing both muscular strength levels and kinanthropometric parameters. Methods: 28 male university students without previous experience in strength training were finally included in the present study. They were randomly assigned to two different training groups: Full body workout group (GECC) and split body routine group (GERD). Intra-and inter-group differences in percentage changes (pre-post) were assessed using non-parametric tests. Results: After the completion of an 8-week intervention period, significant improvements in body fat percentage (p = 0.028), levels of muscular strength on the upper body (p=0.008) and on the lower body (p=0.043) were observed in the GECC. Similarly, significant improvements in body fat percentage (p=0.006), lean body mass (p=0.011) and upper body (p=0.031) and lower body levels of muscular strength (p=0.048) were reported in the GERD. However, no significant differences between groups were found neither in the strength tests performed, nor in the Kineanthropometric parameters evaluated. Conclusion: Both split and full body routines are useful to improve strength levels and kinanthropometric parameters in college students with no previous experience in strength training. However, neither of the two structures is significantly more effective than the other one when it comes to improving the above-mentioned parameters. Resumen Introducción: Existen numerosas investigaciones científicas en las que se han analizado los componentes de la carga del entrenamiento de fuerza, y las numerosas variables que condicionan el desarrollo de esta capacidad. En cambio, son pocos los estudios en los que se ha contrastado la eficacia de los entrenamientos de cuerpo completo frente a las rutinas divididas. El objetivo del presente estudio fue determinar cuál de los dos es más eficaz a la hora de mejorar los parámetros de fuerza y cineantropométricos. Material y métodos: 28 estudiantes universitarios de sexo masculino sin experiencia previa en el entrenamiento de fuerza fueron finalmente incluidos en este estudio y asignados aleatoriamente a dos grupos de entrenamiento de fuerza diferentes: Entrenamiento de cuerpo completo (GECC) y entrenamiento con rutina dividida (GERD). Se compararon los porcentajes de cambio (pre-post) intra e intergrupo mediante pruebas no paramétricas. Resultados: Finalizada la intervención de ocho semanas, el GECC mejoró de forma significativa el porcentaje de grasa (p=0,028), y la fuerza en el tren superior (p=0,008), e inferior (p=0,043). En el GERD se produjeron mejoras significativas en el porcentaje de grasa (p=0,006), en el tejido magro (p=0,011), y en la fuerza en el tren superior (p=0,031), e inferior (p=0,048). Sin embargo, no existieron diferencias significativas entre ambos grupos en ninguna de las mejoras alcanzadas en los parámetros de fuerza y cineantropométricos evaluados. Conclusión: Tanto las rutinas divididas como las de cuerpo completo permiten mejorar los niveles de fuerza y los parámetros cineantropométricos en estudiantes universitarios sin experiencia previa en el entrenamiento de fuerza. Sin embargo, ninguna de las dos estructuras de entrenamiento es significativamente más eficaz que la otra a la hora de mejorar los mencionados parámetros.
... A nivel recreativo y funcional, el entrenamiento de fuerza permite mejorar las condiciones de salud y calidad de vida, y disminuye del riego de padecer ciertas enfermedades y patologías [2][3][4] . Estos beneficios han sido verificados mediante numerosos estudios, en los que también se ha establecido la dosis adecuada de entrenamiento de fuerza que cada grupo de población precisa para lograr adaptaciones que redunden en la mejora del rendimiento deportivo o en su caso, de la salud 5 . ...
Article
Full-text available
Pablo Prieto González, et al. 78 Arch Med Deporte 2020;37(2):78-83 Artículo original Resumen Introducción: Existen numerosas investigaciones científicas en las que se han analizado los componentes de la carga del entrenamiento de fuerza, y las numerosas variables que condicionan el desarrollo de esta capacidad. En cambio, son pocos los estudios en los que se ha contrastado la eficacia de los entrenamientos de cuerpo completo frente a las rutinas divididas. El objetivo del presente estudio fue determinar cuál de los dos es más eficaz a la hora de mejorar los parámetros de fuerza y cineantropométricos. Material y métodos: 28 estudiantes universitarios de sexo masculino sin experiencia previa en el entrenamiento de fuerza fueron finalmente incluidos en este estudio y asignados aleatoriamente a dos grupos de entrenamiento de fuerza diferentes: Entrenamiento de cuerpo completo (GECC) y entrenamiento con rutina dividida (GERD). Se compararon los porcentajes de cambio (pre-post) intra e intergrupo mediante pruebas no paramétricas. Resultados: Finalizada la intervención de ocho semanas, el GECC mejoró de forma significativa el porcentaje de grasa (p=0,028), y la fuerza en el tren superior (p=0,008), e inferior (p=0,043). En el GERD se produjeron mejoras significativas en el porcentaje de grasa (p=0,006), en el tejido magro (p=0,011), y en la fuerza en el tren superior (p=0,031), e inferior (p=0,048). Sin embargo, no existieron diferencias significativas entre ambos grupos en ninguna de las mejoras alcanzadas en los parámetros de fuerza y cineantropométricos evaluados. Conclusión: Tanto las rutinas divididas como las de cuerpo completo permiten mejorar los niveles de fuerza y los parámetros cineantropométricos en estudiantes universitarios sin experiencia previa en el entrenamiento de fuerza. Sin embargo, ninguna de las dos estructuras de entrenamiento es significativamente más eficaz que la otra a la hora de mejorar los mencionados parámetros. Palabras clave: Entrenamiento. Fuerza. Rutina dividida. Rutina de cuerpo completo.
... At a recreational and functional level, strength training helps improve the health and quality of life, while decreasing the risk of certain diseases and medical conditions [2][3][4] . Such benefits have been verified by numerous studies, which have also established the proper dose of strength training each population group needs in order to achieve adaptations which result in improved athletic performance or, where applicable, health 5 . ...
Article
Full-text available
Summary Introduction: There are numerous scientific studies in which the components of resistance training load have been analyzed, as well as many variables that condition the development of muscular strength. However, only a few studies compared the effectiveness of full body workouts and split body routines. The purpose of the present investigation was to determine which of them is more effective in increasing both muscular strength levels and kinanthropometric parameters. Methods: 28 male university students without previous experience in strength training were finally included in the present study. They were randomly assigned to two different training groups: Full body workout group (GECC) and split body routine group (GERD). Intra-and inter-group differences in percentage changes (pre-post) were assessed using non-parametric tests. Results: After the completion of an 8-week intervention period, significant improvements in body fat percentage (p = 0.028), levels of muscular strength on the upper body (p=0.008) and on the lower body (p=0.043) were observed in the GECC. Similarly, significant improvements in body fat percentage (p=0.006), lean body mass (p=0.011) and upper body (p=0.031) and lower body levels of muscular strength (p=0.048) were reported in the GERD. However, no significant differences between groups were found neither in the strength tests performed, nor in the Kineanthropometric parameters evaluated. Conclusion: Both split and full body routines are useful to improve strength levels and kinanthropometric parameters in college students with no previous experience in strength training. However, neither of the two structures is significantly more effective than the other one when it comes to improving the above-mentioned parameters.
... As such, it has been argued that resistance training to improve muscular strength should perhaps be applied in the least amount possible to optimise injury risk reduction. 12,80 Maximising deliberate practice of actual sports performance Indeed, performing 'just enough' resistance training might allow athletes to maximise the time spent practicing their actual sports performance under supervision of their coach, and/or recovering. Further, a reduction in injury risk might also increase the time an athlete is able to engage in specific practice of their actual sports performance as they are less likely to be unable to do so due to injury. ...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives: Researchers and practitioners in sports science aim to generate, and apply, knowledge to improve sports performance. One area of interest is the role that muscular strength, and thus approaches to improve this (i.e. resistance training), has upon sports performance. In this review we briefly consider the evidence regarding an answer to the causal question “Does increasing an athletes’ strength improve sports performance?”. Design & Methods: We first consider the Applied Research Model for the Sport Sciences (ARMSS) to frame the problem and answer this. We then highlight barriers to answering it (and other causal questions) before offering suggestions to address these. Results: Muscular strength typically differentiates elite and non-elite athletes, and is correlated with proxy measures of sports performance. However, there is insufficient evidence to make a definitive statement regarding the causal effect of muscular strength upon sports performance. Conclusions: Considering the ARMSS, evidence is lacking whether improving muscular strength is causally related to sports performance. Present evidence is primarily observational and cross-sectional, experimental evidence is limited and focused upon proxy measures of sports performance, primarily conducted in small samples, and with little consideration regarding meaningfulness of effects. Suggestions to help improve research in this area and better answer this question include: larger sample sizes, determination of smallest effect sizes of interest for outcomes including muscular strength and proxy measures of sports performance (using both anchoring and/or expert opinion), and use of causal inference methods for observational data (actual sports performance, performance indicators, and fitness measures) including graphical causal diagrams and mediation analysis.
Presentation
Full-text available
Researchers have expressed concern recently for standardization of resistance training protocols so that valid comparisons of different training variables such as muscular fatigue, time under tension, pre-exhaust exercise and exercise order, pyramid and drop sets, amount of resistance (load), range of repetitions, frequency and volume of exercise, interset rest intervals, etc. can be more closely studied and compared. This Critical Commentary addresses some recent review articles and training studies specifically focused on the stimulus for muscle hypertrophy in participants with several years of resistance training experience. It reveals that many of the recommended resistance training protocols have their foundation in some long-held, self-described bias.
Presentation
Full-text available
Researchers have expressed concern recently for standardization of resistance training protocols so that valid comparisons of different training variables such as muscular fatigue, time under tension, pre-exhaust exercise and exercise order, pyramid and drop sets, amount of resistance (load), range of repetitions, frequency and volume of exercise, interset rest intervals, etc. can be more closely studied and compared. This Critical Commentary addresses some recent review articles and training studies specifically focused on the stimulus for muscle hypertrophy in participants with several years of resistance training experience. It reveals that many of the recommended resistance training protocols have their foundation in some long-held, self-described bias.
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Several researchers have recently claimed that a series of meta-analyses unequivocally support the superiority of multiple sets for resistance training, and that they have ended the single versus multiple set debate. However, our critical analysis of these meta-analyses revealed numerous mathematical and statistical errors. In addition, their conclusions are illogical, inconsistent, and have no practical application to resistance training.
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While it seems that whole body vibration (WBV) might be an effective modality to enhance physical performance, the proper prescription of WBV for performance enhancement remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to compare the immediate effect of various WBV accelerations on counter movement jump (CMJ) height, the duration of any effect, and differences between men and women. Forty-four participants (33 men, 11 women) participated in no less than four CMJ familiarization sessions and completed all vibration sessions. Participants performed a pre-test (three maximal CMJs), followed randomly by one of five WBV accelerations; 1g (no-WBV control), 2.16g, 2.80g, 4.87g, and 5.83g. Participants performed three maximal CMJs immediately, five, and 10 minutes following each 45 sec WBV session. The mean of the three performances was used and calculated as a percentage of the pre-vibration mean value. A Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance (ANOVA; acceleration x time x gender) model was used to analyze the data. The two-way interactions of acceleration-gender (p = 0.033) and time-gender (p = 0.050) were significant. Women performed significantly better following the 2.80g (p = 0.0064) and 5.83g (p = 0.0125) WBV sessions compared to the 1g (control) session. Men, however, did not experience performance enhancing effects following any of the vibration sessions. While significant differences did not occur between time in either gender, the effects of the 45 sec WBV session in women were transient, lasting approximately five minutes. During the prescription of WBV, gender should be considered given that the results of this study seem to indicate that men and women respond differently to WBV. The results of this study suggest that WBV might be a useful modality as applied during the pre-competition warm-up.
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Drinkwater, E.J., T.W. Lawton, R.P. Lindsell, D.B. Pyne, P.H. Hunt, and M.J. McKenna. Training leading to repetition failure contributes to bench press strength gains in elite junior athletes. J. Strength Cond. Res. 19(2):382-388. 2005. The purpose of this study was to investigate the importance of training leading to repetition failure in the performance of 2 different tests: 6 repetition maximum (6RM) bench press strength and 40-kg bench throw power in elite junior athletes. Subjects were 26 elite junior male basketball players (n 12; age = 18.6 +/- 0.3 years; height = 202.0 +/- 11.6 cm; mass = 97.0 +/- 12.9 kg; mean SD) and soccer players (n = 14; age = 17.4 +/- 0.5 years; height = 179.0 +/- 7.0 cm; mass = 75.0 +/- 7.1 kg) with a history of greater than 6 months' strength training. Subjects were initially tested twice for 6RM bench press mass and 40-kg Smith machine bench throw power output (in watts) to establish retest reliability. Subjects then undertook bench press training with 3 sessions per week for 6 weeks, using equal volume programs (24 repetitions X 80-105% 6RM in 13 minutes 20 seconds). Subjects were assigned to one of two experimental groups designed either to elicit repetition failure with 4 sets of 6 repetitions every 260 seconds (RF4x6) or allow all repetitions to be completed with 8 sets of 3 repetitions every 113 seconds (NF8x3). The RF4X6 treatment elicited substantial increases in strength (7.3 +/- 2.4 kg, + 9.5%, p < 0.001) and power (40.8 +/- 24.1 W, + 10.6%, p < 0.001), while the NF8X3 group elicited 3.6 +/- 3.0 kg (+ 5.0%, p < 0.005) and 25 +/- 19.0 W increases (+ 6.8%, p < 0.001). The improvements in the RF4x6 group were greater than those in the repetition rest group for both strength (p < 0.005) and power (p < 0.05). Bench press training that leads to repetition failure induces greater strength gains than nonfailure training in the bench press exercise for elite junior team sport athletes.
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The performance of resistance exercises on unstable equipment has increased in popularity, despite the lack of research supporting their effectiveness. Resistance exercise performed on unstable equipment may not be effective in developing the type of balance, proprioception, and core stability required for successful sports performance. Free weight exercises performed while standing on a stable surface have been proven most effective for enhancing sports related skills.
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Recommendations vary significantly in regard to how slowly or quickly a person should exercise when strength training, ranging from ballistic/explosive to the Superslow® protocol of 10 s concentric and 10 s eccentric. The purpose of our experiment was to determine the degree of forces produced and experienced by the tissues, by way of a digital force/strain gauge and computer plotting software, when moving under various conditions. It was concluded that there is little difference in the forces generated or experienced until trainees attempt to move a load explosively, to which forces increased by as much as 45 % initially, then decreased by 85.6 % for the majority of a repetition's tension time. With these findings it is apparent that trainees need to move slow enough to maintain tension throughout an exercise's range of motion and to avoid the higher forces experienced with explosive training and the consequential increase of tissue injury.
Book
Somatotyping is a method of description and assessment of the body on three shape and composition scales: endomorphy (relative fatness), mesomorphy (relative musculoskeletal robustness), and ectomorphy (relative linearity). This book (the first major account of the field for thirty years) presents a comprehensive history of somatotyping, beginning with W. J. Sheldon's introduction of the method in 1940. The controversies regarding the validity of Sheldon's method are described, as are the various attempts to modify the technique, particularly the Heath-Carter method, which has come into widespread use. The book reviews present knowledge of somatotypes around the world, how they change with growth, ageing and exercise, and the contributions of genetics and environment to the rating. Also reviewed are the relationships between somatotypes and sport, physical performance, health and behaviour. Students and research workers in human biology, physical and biological anthropology and physical education will all find valuable information in this book.
Article
Fifty college women were randomly assigned to one of three resistance training protocols that employed progressive resistance with high resistance/low repetitions (HRLR), medium resistance/medium repetitions (MRMR), and low resistance/high repetitions (LRHR). The three groups trained on the same resistance exercises for 9 weeks at 3 sets of 6 to 8 RM, 2 sets of 15 to 20 RM, and 1 set of 30 to 40 RM, respectively. Training included free weights and multistation equipment. The 1-RM technique was used for strength testing, and muscular endurance tests consisted of maximum repetitions either at a designated resistance or at a percentage of 1-RM. There were significant pre/post strength increases in both upper and lower body tests, but no significant posttreatment difference in muscular strength among the three protocols. Absolute muscular endurance increased significantly on 4 of 6 pre/post comparisons, while relative endurance increased significantly on only 4 of 12 comparisons. HRLR training yielded greater strength gains. LRHR training generally produced greater muscular endurance gains, and the percentage increase in absolute endurance was approximately twice the increase in strength for all groups. Lower body gains in both strength and endurance were greater than upper body gains.
Article
The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a Nautilus circuit weight training program on muscular strength and maximal oxygen uptake ([Vdot]O 2 max) by comparing these effects to those produced by adhering to either a free weight (FW) strength training program or a running (R) program. Male college students who voluntarily enrolled in either a FW training class (n = 11), a Nautilus (N) circuit weight training class (n= 12), or a R conditioning class (n= 13) were subjects for this investigation. All groups participated in their respective programs 3 days per week for 10 weeks. Strength was assessed using a Cybex II isokinetic dynamometer set at an angular velocity of 60° · s −1 and a damping of 2. The FW group served as the control group for the assessment of [Vdot]O 2 max changes, while the R group served as controls for the assessment of strength differences. ANCOVA revealed that the N and R groups experienced significant (p < .01) increases in [Vdot]O 2 max expressed in L · min −1 (10.9 and 11.4%), ml · kg −1 · min −1 (10.8 and 11.7%), and ml · kgLBW −1 · min −1 (7.1 and 7.5%) when compared to the FW group. There were no significant differences between the N and R groups. There were no significant differences among groups in final peak torque values (after covariance), and torque at the beginning and end of the range of motion for the knee extensors, knee flexors, elbow extensors, and elbow flexors. In general, isokinetic strength values elicited by the N group compared favorably to those generated by the FW group. It was concluded that for a training period of short duration, Nautilus circuit weight training appears to be an equally effective alternative to standard free weight (strength) and aerobic (endurance) training programs for untrained individuals.