Weightlifters could do less and still get stronger by changing the amount they lift during each session, according to a study.
Scientists from the University of Lincoln in the UK compared the average weights lifted by two groups over six weeks.
One group used a traditional training method of a “one rep max” — the maximum weight an athlete could lift — and another used a load velocity profile, where the weights were tailored so they lift either more or less at each session.
The weightlifters who used the load velocity profile became stronger despite lifting less overall during the six week period, according to the study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Traditionally, the one rep max would be used to dictate the weight load for all sessions.
Researchers established the one rep max in the two groups.
They then recorded the length of time it took to lift the weight, and the distance the weight was moved to establish a “velocity measurement” in one of the groups.
That coupled with the one rep max established the load velocity profile for the athlete, the researchers said.
The findings can be used to improve muscular strength and power, and have positive implications for the management of fatigue during resistance training, the researchers said.
“There are a lot of factors which can contribute to an athletes’ performance on a particular day, such as how much sleep they have had, nutrition, or motivational factors,” said Harry Dorrell from the University of Lincoln.
“But with traditional percentage-based methods we would have no insight into how this effects their strength,” Dorrell said.
“The velocity-based training enabled us to see if they were up or down on their normal performance and thus adjust the load accordingly,” he said.
Sixteen men aged between 18 and 29 years, with body masses ranging from 70 kilogramme (kg) to 120 kg with at least two years’ weight training experience, took part in the trial which included two training sessions a week over a course of six weeks.
They performed a back squat, bench press, strict overhead press, and a conventional deadlift, and the results at the start and end of the six weeks training were recorded.
Researchers also recorded the athlete’s counter-movement jump — the explosive lower-body power, and found that only the velocity group’s had improved.
Following the trial, those using the velocity based training method could lift an average of 15kg more on the back squat than when they started, rising from 147kg to 162kg, despite their training loads being an average of nine per cent less at each session.
They lifted six per cent less on the bench press per session but could take on an extra 8kg by the final session; the overhead press saw a 4kg increase in the one rep max despite lifting six per cent less during training.
The deadlift rose from 176kg to 188kg even with an average decrease of two per cent on their training loads.
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