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Springerplus. 2016 May 20;5(1):698. doi: 10.1186/s40064-016-2333-z. eCollection 2016.

Impact of high versus low fixed loads and non-linear training loads on muscle hypertrophy, strength and force development.

Author information

1
Graduate Schools of Health and Sport Science, Nippon Sport Science University, 7-1-1, Fukasawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, 158-8508 Japan.
2
Department of Training Science, Nippon Sport Science University, 1221-1, Kamoshidacho, Aoba-ku, Yokohama, 227-0033 Japan.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In this study, we investigated the effects of resistance training protocols with different loads on muscle hypertrophy and strength.

METHODS:

Twenty-one participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 (n = 7 for each) resistance training (RT) protocols to failure: High load 80 % 1RM (8-12 repetitions) (H group), low load 30 % 1RM (30-40 repetitions) (L group) and a mixed RT protocol (M group) in which the participants switch from H to L every 2 weeks. RT consisted of three sets of unilateral preacher curls performed with the left arm 3 times/week with 90 s rest intervals between sets. The right arm served as control. Maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) of the elbow flexors (elbow angle: 90°) and rate of force development (RFD, 0-50, 50-100, 100-200 and 200-300 ms) were measured. Cross-sectional area (CSA) of the elbow flexors was measured via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). All measurements were conducted before and after the 8 weeks of RT (72-96 h after the last RT). Statistical evaluations were performed with two-way repeated measures (time × group).

RESULTS:

After 8 weeks of 3 weekly RT sessions, significant increases in the left elbow flexor CSA [H: 9.1 ± 6.4 % (p = 0.001), L: 9.4 ± 5.3 % (p = 0.001), M: 8.8 ± 7.9 % (p = 0.001)] have been observed in each group, without significant differences between groups. Significant changes in elbow flexor isometric MVC have been observed in the H group (26.5 ± 27.0 %, p = 0.028), while no significant changes have been observed in the M (11.8 ± 36.4 %, p = 0.26) and L (4.6 ± 23.9 %, p = 0.65) groups. RFD significantly increased during the 50-100 ms phase in the H group only (p = 0.049).

CONCLUSIONS:

We conclude that, as long as RT is conducted to failure, training load might not affect muscle hypertrophy in young men. Nevertheless, strength and RFD changes seem to be load-dependent. Furthermore, a non-linear RT protocol switching loads every 2 weeks might not lead to superior muscle hypertrophy nor strength gains in comparison with straight RT protocols.

KEYWORDS:

Cross-sectional area; Maximum voluntary contraction; Periodized training

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