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8/1/2023 Newsletter

Spiering BA, Mujika I, Sharp MA, Foulis SA. Maintaining Physical Performance: The Minimal Dose of Exercise Needed to Preserve Endurance and Strength Over Time. J Strength Cond Res. 2021 May 1;35(5):1449-1458. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003964. PMID: 33629972.


Often times due to family, work, vacations, or other commitments we may miss time at the gym. Many of us feel uncomfortable with this because we will we will make less progress or lose the progress we have made. But the amount of time to see decrease in performance might be surprising, as well as the dose needed to maintain what we have developed with workouts.


This paper specifically focused on the minimal dose needed to maintain physical performance, not necessarily on body composition, weight, and other physiological processes like bone dentistry to name one. Primarily they looked at endurance performance as well as strength and hypertrophy.


It appears that of all the variables that intensity, at least in this review, had the biggest impact on maintaining adaptations to training. Frequency could be reduced as much as 66% and volume by 33-66% and so long as intensity was maintained in most instances people maintained endurance and strength. And this was also seen in the studies we looked at on tapering for strength as reduction of volume, and frequency did not impact adaptations much, and in some instances when intensity was maintained or increased resulted in improved performances.


To maintain short term endurance, tasks that last 4-8 minutes at maximal intensity, in the general population the recommendations are as follows. Frequency of 2x per week with maintenance of the volume and intensity of workouts. Or volume can be reduced by 66% (as little as 13 minutes per session) with the same intensity and frequency of exercise. Or reduce intensity to 82-87% of HRmax as long as frequency and volume is maintained.


In general populations to maintain long term endurance, or for tasks lasting 1-3 hours the recommendations are as follows. Due to lack of data about frequency changes it is recommended to maintain frequency. Volume can be reduced by 33% (as little as 26 minutes per session) as long as frequency and intensity are maintained. Exercise intensity should be maintained overall.


To maintain VO2 max changes in general populations it is recommended that as little as 2 sessions per week can be performed so long as volume and intensity are maintained. Volume can be decreased by 66% as long as frequency is maintained. Intensity should remain as high as possible or as close to training intensity as possible.


To maintain overall 1RM strength in a general population it is recommended to not go lower than one session per week, volume can be reduced to 1 set per exercise for the week, and the intensity should be maintained at the normal training level, if not in absolute load but RPE/RIR.


To maintain muscle size in individuals 20-35 generally it is recommended to reduce training frequency no lower than 1x a week, no less than 1 set per exercise per week, and general intensity should be maintained if not in absolute load but RPE/RIR. No this isnt a copy and paste its the same as strength training.


To maintain muscular size in those who are of general population between the ages of 60-75 it is recommended to at least perform 2 sessions per week, perform 2-3 sets per exercise, and that intensity should be maintained, if not in absolute load overall RPE/RIR.


Van Every DW, Coleman M, Plotkin DL, Zambrano H, Van Hooren B, Larsen S, Nuckols G, Vigotsky AD, Schoenfeld BJ. Biomechanical, Anthropometric and Psychological Determinants of Barbell Bench Press Strength. Sports. 2022; 10(12):199. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports10120199


As of late there has been more research to specifically look at which qualities we can hone to improve singular lifts like squat, bench press, and deadlift. Ideally, we would think that greater muscle mass and fat free mass would result in a larger bench press (BP). It does appear that more muscle does have correlation with a larger BP, but may not always be a direct correlation because of how individual levers and muscle mass geometry can impact performance. Due to the fact that a BP is a multi joint movement this makes sense as there are multiple factors that influence performance.


This study looked at mostly males age 18-35 (18 participants), they looked at limb lengths, as well as the Brugsh index (chest circumference divided by height), ilio-acromial index (illiac width divided by acromial width, Brachial index (the length of your forearm divided by the length of your humerus) and the ratio of arm length to body height. They also looked at kinematics/technique, and measures of self-efficacy. Further, they looked at isometric strength of participants elbow extension and horizontal shoulder flexion (adduction, similar to a chest fly movement).


The findings of the study suggest that overall size and fat free mass was positively associated with bench press performance. Secondarily, ability to produce tricep extension and horizontal adduction force was associated with better BP performance. While, a larger brachial index was negatively associated with bench press performance. While general FFM was associated with better performance arm size was most associated with positive performance. While, isolated joint strength does not fully explain performance, due to the complexity of BP, there was some association between peak isometric strength and performance. And self efficacy had little effect on BP performance.


So we can add another one to the pile that suggests development of strength across shoulder extension and shoulder adduction, as well as upper body muscle mass seems to improve bench press performance.


Maulit, Matthew & Archer, David & Leyva, Whitney & Munger, Cameron & Wong, Megan & Brown, Lee & Coburn, Jared & Galpin, Andrew. (2017). Effects of Kettlebell Swing vs. Explosive Deadlift Training on Strength and Power. International Journal of Kinesiology and Sports Science. 5. 1-7. 10.7575/aiac.ijkss.v.5n.1p.1.


The ability to produce force rapidly is important in many sports that involve jumping, running, throwing, and even in lifting. There are many exercises and methods we can use to improve hip hinge patterns. Primarily we think of deadlifts and or hip thrusters when it comes to this. Kettlebell swings are often not thought of in the context of powerlifting and or bodybuilding, but does offer a different stimulus that may help with power development.


Its thought that the speed of kettlebell swings might offer more improvements over explosive deadlifts. In this study they used a linear periodization model with 31 males around age 23 with a deadlift of around 150 kg. They did test deadlift 1RMs pre and post and had all participants use lifting straps when testing. They either performed explosive kettlebell training with 10-12.5% of the peak force production during a isometric mid thigh pull, which was around 45-50 lbs on average for most participants. Given the numbers presented in the study it equated to around 400 lb deadlift. They started with 4x5 2-3x a week with 10% and progressed to 6x4 at 12.5% over 4-5 weeks, and were instructed to perform these as fast as possible. The deadlift group followed the same protocol but utilized 30-40% of their 1RM on deadlift.


Following both protocols there was around a 20 lb increase in participants deadlift 1RM. While this was the case it would be curious to see if they compared these to traditional deadlifting, or more advanced velocity based protocols that are available now in current literature. As we have previously commented in our newsletter on the benefit of velocity based training principles its no wonder that we see significant improvements. Also 20 lbs is a significant increase within the length of this study but explosive training may have been more of a novel stimulus for participants. Also some points made in their discussion seem to be inaccurate now based on data we have utilizing velocity based protocols. Its unclear for more advanced lifters how much benefit this might provide them, ie using kettlebells at light weight with high velocity. But it could provide a novel stimulus if a barbell or significant weights are not available.


Helms ER, Kwan K, Sousa CA, Cronin JB, Storey AG, Zourdos MC. Methods for Regulating and Monitoring Resistance Training. J Hum Kinet. 2020 Aug 31;74:23-42. doi: 10.2478/hukin-2020-0011. PMID: 33312273; PMCID: PMC7706636.


Matching our training to daily readiness may help individualize training adaptation, and maximize the time spent in productive training weeks. Individuals may have different recovery rates which can be influenced by genetics, biological age, menstrual cycle phase, training age and many other individual and environmental factors. Our adaptations from a training program can also be improved by monitoring stress and tracking it appropriately, to adjust training parameters based on readiness.


For example, when we are experiencing more negative life stress we are less likely to have great training sessions and recovery in general. Because daily and life stressors are not always static and or predictable our ongoing state of readiness and recovery needs varying ways to be monitored to help adjust training. There are multiple ways we can monitor and adjust our training and for novice lifters/practitioners there can be a learning curve in this process that can be shortened by working these into training programs.


Some of the most practical ways to monitor readiness can be by using a 1-10 readiness score after your warm up, and using a flexible template select an easier, or harder session, or by utilizing RPE/RIR, and or velocity of the final warm up on that given day you can determine if volume, power, or strength should be more of the focus on that day.


Another possible way to adjust training difficulty would be by adjusting load and or volume based on capabilities on that day. With velocity based training this would mean having target velocity ranges and utilizing a load that allows you to complete lifts within a target range, and stop performing sets when you fall outside of that range. You could also do this by selecting RIR/RPE ranges and stick to loads that fall within that range and perform sets to an upper RIR/RPE stop.


Another approach would be to monitor sessional RPEs, then by looking at these values adjust. For example, if they are either low or high and stagnation is seen or less adaptation than expected, then for the next block or cycle within session targets for RPE/RIR and or velocity can be adjusted.


Many physiological monitoring methods lack practical implementation in most settings, or are not adequately studies in how it relates to weight lifting. General autoregulation based on prior performances seems to result in better strength gains. At this time it seems most practical and realistic to utilize VBT, RPE and RIR as approaches to adjust training session to session, within session, and across programming.


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