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26.06.2010


In regular sports half sets make for more effective strength training

Rowers who add strength training to their regular training make more progress if they don't push themselves to the limit with their sets, write Spanish sports scientists in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The rowers benefited most when they did half the amount of reps they would do if they were to go to the limits in a set.

In regular sports half sets make for more effective strength training
The researchers did an experiment with 43 trained rowers, who they divided over 4 groups. The control group did no strength training but did do the regular rowing training and cardio exercise. The athletes trained 7-8 hours a week.

A second group of rowers trained twice a week at a gym for 8 weeks, in addition to the regular rowing training. In each session the athletes did 4 exercises: bent-over rows on a machine, the seated cable row, lat pull-downs and snatches. The rowers did 3 sets of each exercise at 70 percent of the weight at which they could just manage 1 rep. They trained to failure: they completed all 10-12 reps for each set. [4RF]

A third group of rowers did the same, but stopped after 5-6 reps. [4NRF]

A fourth group of rowers trained in the same way as 4NRF, but only did the bent-over rows and seated cable row. [2NRF]

The rowers were probably close to over-training. The groups that did strength training lost about one and a half times as much lean body mass as the control group over the 8-week period.


In regular sports half sets make for more effective strength training


But the rowers that did strength training grew stronger, while the control group became weaker. The figure below shows the effect of the programme on the weight at which the rowers could just manage 1 rep of the bent-over row. The increase in maximal strength was only significant in the 4NRF group.


In regular sports half sets make for more effective strength training


Now maximal strength is not much use to rowers on the water. Power in terms of the speed with which you can raise a weight is more important. Strength training increases this power. At least, as long as the athletes didn't do sets to failure. Once again, the 4NRF group performed best.


In regular sports half sets make for more effective strength training


The researchers conclude that athletes that demand a lot of their bodies benefit from strength training, but only if they don't push themselves to the limits in their sets. Reducing the number of the sets, however, is not a good way of reducing the negative impact of strength training. A training session with slightly more sets is more effective than a session consisting of fewer sets.

The researchers do not give any information about the athletes' diet. Maybe supplements containing interesting quantities of proteins, creatine and beta-alanine would have produced better results.

Source:
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jun; 42(6): 1191-9.

More:
Eleven weeks' not to-failure training just as effective as eleven weeks' to-failure 23.06.2010