May 23, 2008 Women who want to build muscle strength and endurance should choose traditional strength training methods instead of low velocity routines, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
The study, conducted by Sharon Rana, associate professor of exercise physiology, and colleagues at Ohio University, examined whether low velocity resistance training is a more effective workout than conventional routines, as some experts maintain. The team studied 34 healthy, college-aged females who performed three different training methods over a six-week period.
The methods included a traditional strength training routine, a traditional muscle endurance training routine and a low velocity regimen. The traditional strength group lifted a heavier weight load with fewer repetitions, while the traditional endurance group lifted a lighter weight load with more repetitions. The low velocity group also lifted a lighter weight load, but did their workouts much slower than the other groups and did fewer repetitions.
“What made the research a little different is that we put the various methods of resistance training all in one study and added a control group, which hadn’t been done before. The endurance group also hadn’t really been studied in conjunction with low velocity type training,” Rana said.
Participants’ workouts consisted of leg presses, back squats and knee extensions. On average, the traditional strength group lifted 499 pounds when doing leg presses, 121 pounds when doing squats and 117 pounds when doing leg extensions. The traditional endurance group lifted 341 pounds when doing leg presses, 64 pounds on squats and 48 pounds on knee extensions. The low velocity group averaged 356 pounds for leg presses, 79 pounds for squats and 55 pounds for knee extensions. Participants did three sets of each exercise during each session and were given four to five minutes of rest between each set and exercise.
During the study, participants were measured for absolute strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance and body composition. Rana and her colleagues found that the traditional strength group gained the most strength in two of the three workouts. The endurance group and the low velocity group both improved strength, but to a much lesser degree.
For example, the traditional strength group increased 61.8 percent in strength in the leg press exercise, while the low velocity group saw an increase of 26.9 percent and the traditional endurance group improved 23.4 percent. The traditional strength group also saw the most improvement in the knee extension exercise, increasing strength by 51.3 percent. The traditional strength group was not significantly different from the other training groups in the squat exercise.
Though the traditional endurance training group was still the most successful at boosting muscular endurance, the study found that cardiovascular endurance didn’t increase significantly in any of the groups.
“We tested cardiovascular endurance because a lot of the lay literature, the articles you might read in magazines, said it would improve. But no one has proven that,” Rana explained.
All of the groups combined showed a small decrease in percent body fat, but it was not statistically significant. The most significant improvements involved strength gain and endurance gain.
“The low velocity training obviously helps you,” Rana said. “You can gain some strength and muscle endurance, but the traditional methods are going to do a slightly better job for those two things.”
Co-authors on the paper were Gary Chleboun, Roger Gilders, Frederick Hagerman, Jennifer Herman, Robert Hikida, Michael Kushnick, Robert Staron and Kumika Toma, all of Ohio University.
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