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Pre-Fatigue Training vs Traditional Sets on muscle growth

 

 

Reference of the Study: Trinidade et. al. (2019). Effects of Pre-Exhaustion Versus Traditional Resistance Training on Training Volume, Maximal Strength and Quadriceps Hypertrophy FRONT PHYSIOL

 

 

Details of the Study:

 

  • Trainees performed 3 sets of leg press to failure 75% 1RM, 2x per week, for 9 weeks in total.

 

  • One group performed 1 set of leg extensions before the leg press (pre-fatigue group), while another group performed the leg press training in a non-fatigued state (traditional training group).

 

  • It was found that both groups saw significant muscle growth of all quad muscles, with no notable differences between groups.

 

  • This study suggests that when taking each set close to failure, pre-fatiguing a muscle can achieve similar muscle growth compared with traditional training, with no additional benefit.

 

  • This is despite the fact that lifting performance (load lifted), on the leg press for the pre-fatigue group was significantly affected.

 

 

Real World Application:

 

  • Pre-Fatiguing the muscles provides an opportunity to gain the same muscle growth as traditional training, with lighter loads and less repetitions, thereby minimising joint stress.

 

  • Therefore, this could be particularly useful for people returning to the gym after rehabilitating certain joint injuries.

Load vs Rep Progression

 

 

Reference:

Plotkin et. al. (2022) Progressive Overload Without Progressing the Load? The Effects of Load or Repetition Progression on Muscular Adaptations. PERJ.

 

Details of the Study:

 

  • Trainees performed the same lower-body workout 2x per week for 8 weeks, taking all sets to failure.

 

  • One group lifted within the 8-12 rep range and attempted to increase the load over time, still sticking to this rep range.

 

  • The other group also lifted within the 8-12 rep range initially. However they aimed to perform more reps overtime whilst maintaining the same load.

 

Results:

 

  • It was found that both groups saw increases in muscle thickness of all muscles measured, with no notable trends favouring either condition.

 

  • Furthermore, changes in lean mass of the legs were similar between groups.

 

  • This supports the main know drivers of hypertrophy are mechanical tension and metabolic stress are both great for hypertrophy.

 

Real World Application:

  • This study suggests that progression via load or reps results in similar outcomes, as long as the set is taken to failure. Therefore, if muscle growth is the aim then proximity to failure should be prioritized.

 

  • Once you know you can train to failure successfully and it comes the decision to either up the weight or increase reps. Exercise execution is vital for all lifts and movements it would be useful to hire a personal trainer to coach you on exercise execution.

 

  • A useful strategy would be to perform your compound more mid range movements with the progression of load and your isolation movements towards the shortened and lengthened ranges of the muscle towards higher rep ranges.

Are Eccentrics more important for Hypertrophy?

Reference to Study: Sato et. al. (2022). Comparison between concentric-only, eccentric-only and concentric-eccentric resistance training of the elbow flexors for their effects on muscle strength and hypertrophy. EUR J APPL PHYSIOL

 

Details of the Study:

 

  • Trainees performed 3×10 bicep curls 2x per week for 5 weeks

 

  • 1 group only performed the concentric portion, another group only performed the eccentric portion and the last group performed both concentric and eccentric portions of the bicep curl.

 

  • Note: The total volume load (weight x number of contractions) was double for the concentric+eccentric group.

 

  • Despite this difference in load, it was found that biceps growth was similar between the concentric+eccentric group & the eccentric only group, whilst the concentric only group saw significantly less group.

 

  • Therefore, the study supports the idea that the eccentric portion of the contraction is more important for growth

 

 

Real world application:

  • Many people chasing muscle growth often rush the eccentric portion of lifts, allowing gravity to take the weight down instead of keeping the muscle under as much tension as they could to control the weight. Therefore, this study is part of the growing evidence why this is highly suboptimal for their training goal.

Principles of Training – Individualisation

Each and every one of us is physically and mentally different. This is why, when it comes to training, everyone’s approach needs to be bespoke to them, if it’s going to be optimal.

 

One of these factors will be their starting point, in terms of ability, in their fitness journey. For example, if two people come to a personal trainer saying they wish to build better whole-body strength, then both will be assessed to see where their starting point is at. If it becomes clear one athlete has a proportionately stronger upper body than their lower body, and the other person vice versa then despite the same goal, their programmes will look different. The first person will need a more lower body focussed approach whereas the other person would need the opposite, this is an example of applying the principle of individualisation.

 

Another key factor to consider is lifestyle variations. Everyone has a life outside of the gym, all of which will include factors which influence their performance inside the gym. Therefore, this needs to be considered when programming. To give another example, imagine someone wants to become generally fitter all round. If they’re a labourer then you need to consider that their job is very taxing, therefore workload needs to be managed more carefully as to avoid overtraining and injury.

 

 

Next, there’s anatomical variants between each individual which can affect performance in the gym. For example, someone with a larger rib cage convexity, steeper sternum angle and short limbs is going to have a better chance at being better at the Bench Press compared to someone with a smaller ribcage, flatter sternum angle and long limbs, due to the first person having a shorter range of motion to achieve a full repetition and the line of pull on the pecs from insertion to origin. Another way in which anatomical differences influence training, can be down to active range. Everyone’s active range for a given movement is different. A common example would be overhead mobility. If someone cannot lift their hands directly above their heads (180 degrees of shoulder flexion) then trying to perform an overhead press is going to take them out of their active range and they will lean back to achieve the overhead position. This person will be putting a lot of stress on joint structures outside of this range and also increase the risk of injury when lifting outside of it. Therefore, consider this individual difference and give them an exercise that challenges them in their active range, for instance an incline press, set to a height whereby they are working in the active range that they can achieve.

 

Next, there’s two factors that link together. These are tolerance to training loads and responsiveness to training load. One’s tolerance to training load is going to help you in the initial phase of deciding things like how frequently they should train and how demanding each session should be. Their responsiveness to training will link closely with progressive overload. So, someone who responds very quickly to training will need to increase their training load more frequently than a slow responder. It’s important however that progressive overload is applied correctly to both people to prevent any from overtraining or undertraining.

 

Finally, the psychology behind training must also be taken into consideration. As with most things, intrinsic motivation is the key to long term adherence and this is achieved when someone feels competent, so the training programme must not feel too difficult for the participant. They also need relatedness, this comes from good relationships attached with the activity. Therefore, having great rapport with your PT, or attending the gym with a friend is a great idea. It’s also a reason why exercise groups with a more ‘community feel’ are more popular, the biggest example of this being the rapid growth of CrossFit over the past 10-15 years. Also, the participant must feel like they have autonomy, this can come via a number of ways such as having the freedom to train when they want, as well as being able to have a say in what they do during sessions (if they want that).

 

Overall, there’s many factors here to consider, it’s important to manage them all carefully, in order to ensure you are getting the most out of your training.

Rep Ranges and Goals

Rep Ranges and Goals

1-5 reps for strength

6-7 Strength/Hypertrophy

8-12 for hypertrophy

13-15 Hypertrophy/Endurance

15+ Endurance

 

Research has actually shown that hypertrophy has been shown to be the same at any rep range as long as the muscle is taken close to failure and the load is anything above 30% 1RM

 

This study supports that claim: Fink, J., Kikuchi, N., Yoshida, S., Terada, K., & Nakazato, K. (2016). Impact of high versus low fixed loads and non-linear training loads on muscle hypertrophy, strength and force development. Springerplus5(1), 1-8.

 

Experienced endurance runners have actually been shown to increase performance more when spending their S+C sessions completing high load, low rep work compared to low load high reps as the increase in strength helps increase running economy in the latter stages of races

 

Study to support this claim: Ebben, W. P., Kindler, A. G., Chirdon, K. A., Jenkins, N. C., Polichnowski, A. J., & Ng, A. V. (2004). The effect of high-load vs. high-repetition training on endurance performance. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research18(3), 513-517.

 

The effect of volume on muscle growth

The effect of volume on muscle growth

 

The study: Schoenfeld, B. J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, K., Belliard, R., & Alto, A. (2019). Resistance training volume enhances muscle hypertrophy but not strength in trained men. Medicine and science in sports and exercise51(1), 94

 

 

  • 45 men with an average lifting experience of 4.4 years of lifting performed the same exercises in the 8-12 rep range, 3x per week for 8 weeks

 

 

  • The men were split into 3 groups. One performed each exercise for 1 set per session, one group for 3 sets per session and 1one group for 5 sets per session

 

 

  • The results found a dose-response-relationship between sets performed and change in muscle thickness (muscle hypertrophy)

 

  • This was still the case with extremely high volumes up to 45 sets.

 

Summary and application:

 

  • In summary, the study supports the idea that higher volume results in increased hypertrophy even up to very high levels of volume (45 sets on a muscle group per week)
  • This information is applicable to the general population who may be experiencing plateaus in their training, which could be down to them not increasing their volume for a prolonged period of time.
  • How can you increase volume without spending vast amounts of time in the gym? Methods include drop sets, rest-pause sets and giant sets.

Exercise Selection and Goals

One aspect of programme design that many people are confused over is how to decide what exercises to add to their programme. There can be many misconceptions about regarding this, such as ‘machines are less functional than dumbbells’, causing many people to stray from using machines. However, ‘functional’ has become an ambiguous term in fitness, so it’s worth applying its original definition of ‘designed to be practical and useful’. Therefore, if an exercise is practical and useful to that individual then it is, by definition, functional.

 

How do we decide what is practical and useful for an individual? Well, there is several factors to consider. One of which, is their goals, as different goals will require different exercises, we apply the concept of specificity to choose the most optimal exercises. Not to mention a form of assessment and screening of an individual to determine what they a lacking in terms of mobility, strength and stability.

 

Hypertrophy:

 

If someone’s only goal is to build or retain muscle, then exercise selection can make a significant difference to the end result. For an exercise to be effective for this goal, the limiting factor in the exercise has to be the targeted muscle tissue. In other words, the reason you fail to do another rep must be due to fatigue felt in the muscle you are trying to work, and not another reason such as a loss of balance.

 

To achieve this, exercises that have high external stability will deliver better results. Exercises that have high external stability require less stabilisation from the person performing the exercise (internal stability), therefore muscular fatigue is much more likely to be the reason for failure as opposed to a breakdown in technique, thus making it superior for hypertrophy.

 

However, there is a caveat to this- Stability drives output. Therefore, if someone is lacking stability at a joint then this can limit long term hypertrophy of the muscles attached. For instance, someone with average mobility at the hip could get significant results in hamstring hypertrophy using a Barbell Romanian Deadlift or a Squat up to a point. However, form may start to breakdown once using a certain load which would express the underlying lack of stability within the hip.

 

 

Therefore, the use of exercises with a higher internal stability can be implemented in their programme, to improve performance and further drive hypertrophy. To go back to the hamstring hypertrophy example, the person may add a single leg Romanian Deadlift variations and progressions to their programming to help improve stability at the hip and further help increase load and drive hypertrophy when performing Barbell Romanian Deadlifts.

 

Strength:

If the goal is strength, then the focus shifts away from muscle tissue and towards the movement itself. What movements do you want to get stronger in and why? Often this goal is adopted by athletes as their sports will have specific movements to get stronger in, which will help advance them in their sports.

 

The most obvious example would be powerlifting. Powerlifting involves lifting the most amount of weight for 1 rep each of the Bench Press, Deadlift and Back Squat. Therefore, when putting together a powerlifting programme we apply the concept of specificity and base the programme around the 3 main lifts mentioned, accompanied by accessory movements to assist the improvement in performance of the competition lifts. However even with strength if an individual is lacking adequate hip stability and they are aiming to achieve absolute strength on the said lift then spending time on one leg within their program will help further drive the adaptations required to exert force on their lifts.

 

Alternatively, athletes of other sports are going to select resistance exercises which complement the movements that they complete in their sport. For example, many sports involve running. Therefore, for many of these athletes, performing front foot elevated split squats may be beneficial. This is because this exercise shares many similarities to the skill of running. Both are uni-lateral, internally stable skills, involve flexion and extension of the hip and knee as well as plantar flexion and dorsi flexion at the ankle it will also train the athlete to keep their centre of mass balanced as fatigue can kick in during long distances and heel strikes can get heavier towards the latter stages of a race. Building strength in this movement can allow the athlete to apply more force at a given effort when performing the sport.

 

This can aid in the development of running economy- a reduction in the amount of energy expended at a given speed. In terms of transfer to performance, this can help the athlete run faster, for longer without form breaking down and thus reduce the risk of injuries.

 

 

Overall, it is crucial to truly analyse your goals because many people wish to simultaneously achieve improved strength and hypertrophy, which is very achievable for everyone except very advanced lifters. The importance of each goal is going to play a role in which exercises are selected, so it is important to have this established before forming the programme.

 

With anyone we work with here at Soma Fitness, we run them through a full assessment to determine where the starting point of the program is. This is highly beneficial as if you don’t pick certain aspects up and run with a cookie cutter program you will be leaving a lot on the table in terms of the progression of your results. If someone cannot get into certain positions and we then go and load them in those positions, it’s a quick way to set yourself up for injuries which will then hinder your overall progression towards your goals.

Importance of Resistance Training for Elderly Populations

 

What is Resistance Training?

Resistance Training can be defined as a form of exercise, whereby external weights provide progressive overload to skeletal muscles in order to make them stronger and often result in hypertrophy (growth in overall size of muscle cells) (Alix-Fages et. al, 2022; Phillips and Winett, 2010), which can lead to several benefits.

 

Benefits:

Less chance of falls and subsequent physical inactivity:

Araujo et. al (2022) found that middle aged or older people who could not stand on one leg for more than 10 seconds were more likely to die in the next seven years, compared to people who could. Why could this be the case?

 

People with less balance can be more prone falls. When in older age, this is more likely to lead to serious injury to lower bone density. If this results in a hip fracture, then there is no guarantee they will reach pre-injury level of recovery, leaving a lack of mobility and pain. With many people, this can result in them stopping activities which they used to enjoy, such as regular walks, and meeting up with friends to do things. This decrease in physical activity and increase in isolation can further accelerate the negative effects of the fall such as increased risk of depression and heart disease from being physically inactive

 

Reduce risk of chronic diseases and keeping one’s independence:

Furthermore, regular resistance training (2-3 sessions per week) has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease, arthritis and type 2 diabetes. (Fragala et. al, 2019),  as well as being important in managing sarcopenia (the gradual loss in muscle mass due to age). Avoiding these chronic diseases can help people keep their independence in their old age, thus increasing their quality of life. For example, if someone can avoid osteoporosis and arthritis, then they can move with much more ease. This allows them the ability to complete activities such as playing with grandchildren and climbing stairs.

 

The snowball effect of being able to do these things can also have a positive effect on one’s mental health as they will be able to live with more confidence, less anxiety and more social interactions instead of potential isolation due to lack of mobility.

 

Seeing these benefits first hand:

As a personal trainer, one of the main protocols I take when working with older clients is to incorporate exercises which improve their balance and stability into their training programme, at a level suited to them. This can start off as simple as dowel assisted front foot elevated split squat, progressing all the way to unassisted single leg Romanian deadlifts. When performed consistently and accompanied by adequate nutrition, results are seen quickly so never think that it’s too late to start resistance training.

 

Reference List:

  • Alix-Fages, C., Del Vecchio, A., Baz-Valle, E., Santos-Concejero, J., & Balsalobre-Fernández, C. (2022). The role of the neural stimulus in regulating skeletal muscle hypertrophy. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 1-18.
  • AraujoCG, de Souza e Silva CG, Laukkanen JA, et al, Successful 10-second one-legged stance performance predicts survival in middle-aged and older individuals British Journal of Sports Medicine Published Online First: 21 June 2022. doi:1136/bjsports-2021-105360
  • Fragala, Maren S.1; Cadore, Eduardo L.2; Dorgo, Sandor3; Izquierdo, Mikel4; Kraemer, William J.5; Peterson, Mark D.6; Ryan, Eric D.7Resistance Training for Older Adults: Position Statement From the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: August 2019 – Volume 33 – Issue 8 – p 2019-2052 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003230
  • Phillips, S. M., & Winett, R. A. (2010). Uncomplicated resistance training and health-related outcomes: evidence for a public health mandate. Current sports medicine reports9(4), 208.
  • Zhang, J., Ang, M. L., & Kwek, E. B. (2015). Who Will Walk Again? Effects of Rehabilitation on the Ambulatory Status in Elderly Patients Undergoing Hemiarthroplasty for Femoral Neck Fracture. Geriatric orthopaedic surgery & rehabilitation6(3), 168–172. https://doi.org/10.1177/2151458515583111

 

Resistance Training Benefits for Females

What is Resistance Training?

Resistance Training can be defined as a form of exercise, whereby external weights provide progressive overload to skeletal muscles in order to make them stronger and often result in hypertrophy (growth in overall size of muscle cells) (Alix-Fages et. al, 2022; Phillips and Winett, 2010), which can lead to several benefits.

Mental Health:

Firstly, Ramirez and Kravitz (2012) looked into the benefits of regular resistance training and found that it has been shown to improve numerous aspects of mental health including: lessened anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, self-esteem, memory and cognition. The way in which resistance training helps achieve this is not yet clear, but the benefits to mental health could well be consequences of the physical benefits that resistance training provides. For example, when we start training regularly, our sleep may improve. In turn, we see a reduction in stress hormones (Maggio et. al, 2013), which then can have a positive effect on our level of anxiety.

Fat Loss:

When wanting to lose weight, we need to be in a calorie deficit. When in this calorie deficit, weight can be lost via losing body fat, water, and muscle tissue. Regular resistance training helps preserve muscle mass when in a calorie deficit (Miller et. al, 2018). This, in turn, results in more of the weight lost being from body fat tissue, as opposed to muscle tissue. It is important to note that protein intake and sleep must also be sufficient to maximise muscle preservation, and therefore fat loss, in a calorie deficit. (Nedeltcheva et. al, 2010; Stokes et. al, 2018)

Frailty and Functionality:

As we age past the age of 35, we experience a gradual loss of muscle mass of around 1-2% per year, this is known as sarcopenia (Cruz-Jentoft and Sayer, 2019). Once we reach our 60’s and older, sarcopenia may contribute to a loss of functionality in daily tasks such as climbing stairs with ease, or playing with grandchildren.

Resistance training in elderly populations has been shown to increase their ability to go from sitting to standing with less postural sway and more proprioception, which is linked to more functional ability and lower risk of falls. (Faigenbaum and Myer, 2010)

‘I Don’t Want to Look Bulky’:

This is a common worry with female clients. Fortunately, there is about as much chance as accidentally adding significant amounts of muscle mass accidentally as there is as taking driving lessons and accidentally ending up in the Monaco Grand Prix.

Putting on significant amounts of muscle mass requires consistent training on a hypertrophy focussed plan, being in a calorie surplus, and consumption of adequate protein for a number of months before noticeable increases are seen. Overall, resistance training can be used as an excellent tool to improve one’s quality of life, regardless of age or goals.

Reference List:

  • Alix-Fages, C., Del Vecchio, A., Baz-Valle, E., Santos-Concejero, J., & Balsalobre-Fernández, C. (2022). The role of the neural stimulus in regulating skeletal muscle hypertrophy. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 1-18.
  • Cruz-Jentoft, A. J., & Sayer, A. A. (2019). Sarcopenia. The Lancet393(10191), 2636-2646.
  • Faigenbaum, A. D., & Myer, G. D. (2010). Pediatric resistance training: benefits, concerns, and program design considerations. Current sports medicine reports9(3), 161-168.
  • Maggio, M., Colizzi, E., Fisichella, A., Valenti, G., Ceresini, G., Dall’Aglio, E., … & Ceda, G. P. (2013). Stress hormones, sleep deprivation and cognition in older adults. Maturitas76(1), 22-44.
  • Miller, T., Mull, S., Aragon, A. A., Krieger, J., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2018). Resistance training combined with diet decreases body fat while preserving lean mass independent of resting metabolic rate: a randomized trial. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism28(1), 46-54.
  • Nedeltcheva, A. V., Kilkus, J. M., Imperial, J., Schoeller, D. A., & Penev, P. D. (2010). Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Annals of internal medicine153(7), 435–441. https://doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-153-7-201010050-00006
  • Phillips, S. M., & Winett, R. A. (2010). Uncomplicated resistance training and health-related outcomes: evidence for a public health mandate. Current sports medicine reports9(4), 208.
  • Ramirez, A., & Kravitz, L. (2012). Resistance training improves mental health. IDEA Fitness Journal9(1), 20-22.
  • Stokes, T., Hector, A. J., Morton, R. W., McGlory, C., & Phillips, S. M. (2018). Recent perspectives regarding the role of dietary protein for the promotion of muscle hypertrophy with resistance exercise training. Nutrients10(2), 180.