dedicated to the discussion of the chinese internal martial arts of xingyiquan, baguazhang, taijiquan, related arts, and anything else best discussed over a bottle of rum
In humans, regimented resistance training has been shown to promote substantial increases in skeletal muscle mass. With respect to traditional resistance training methods, the prevailing opinion is that an intensity of greater than ~60 % of 1 repetition maximum (RM) is necessary to elicit significant increases in muscular size. It has been surmised that this is the minimum threshold required to activate the complete spectrum of fiber types, particularly those associated with the largest motor units. There is emerging evidence, however, that low-intensity resistance training performed with blood flow restriction (BFR) can promote marked increases in muscle hypertrophy, in many cases equal to that of traditional high-intensity exercise. The anabolic effects of such occlusion-based training have been attributed to increased levels of metabolic stress that mediate hypertrophy at least in part by enhancing recruitment of high-threshold motor units. Recently, several researchers have put forth the theory that low-intensity exercise (≤50 % 1RM) performed without BFR can promote increases in muscle size equal, or perhaps even superior, to that at higher intensities, provided training is carried out to volitional muscular failure. Proponents of the theory postulate that fatiguing contractions at light loads is simply a milder form of BFR and thus ultimately results in maximal muscle fiber recruitment. Current research indicates that low-load exercise can indeed promote increases in muscle growth in untrained subjects, and that these gains may be functionally, metabolically, and/or aesthetically meaningful. However, whether hypertrophic adaptations can equal that achieved with higher intensity resistance exercise (≤60 % 1RM) remains to be determined. Furthermore, it is not clear as to what, if any, hypertrophic effects are seen with low-intensity exercise in well-trained subjects as experimental studies on the topic in this population are lacking. Practical implications of these findings are discussed.
What We Did
A systematic search of the literature was conducted to identify studies that would potentially be relevant to the meta-analysis. We filtered through the studies and subjected them to rigid inclusion criteria. To meet eligibility, studies had to:
1. Be a randomized controlled trial involving both low (<60% 1RM)- and high-load (>65% 1RM) training
2. Span at least 6 weeks
3. Directly measure dynamic muscle strength and/or hypertrophy
4. Carried out training to momentary muscular failure in both protocols
A total of 13 studies were identified that met inclusion criteria. Three of these studies did not contain adequate data for computation of effect sizes, leaving a total of 10 studies for analysis. Studies were separately coded by two researchers, and we cross-checked our data for consistency. We then randomly chose 3 studies for recoding to ensure there was no “coder drift.” The results of these studies were converted into effect sizes for comparison between conditions.
What We Found:
No significant differences were seen between low- versus high-load training in either strength or hypertrophy, although a trend for greater increases was noted in both conditions.
What These Results Mean
Results of the meta-analysis support the findings of my narrative review on the topic, showing that substantial hypertrophy and even strength can be achieved by training with light loads. Based purely on statistical probability (i.e. the odds that results are due to chance), there was no difference between using heavy and light loads for gaining strength or muscle. However, several things need to be taken into account when drawing evidence-based conclusions.
First, there was a trend for greater results in both strength and hypertrophy. This is a topic that has not been extensively researched, thereby limiting the statistical power of the meta-analysis. The trends noted would suggest that there is actually a difference favoring the heavy load condition, but statistical power was not great enough to sufficiently detect such a difference. Looking beyond basic probability statistics, other analytic measures provide interesting insight into results. Of particular note was the fact that the effect size (a measure of the magnitude of the difference in results) for strength was was markedly higher in the heavy- vs. light-load condition (2.30 versus 1.23, respectively). The 95% confidence interval differential also favored using heavy loads (CI: -0.18–2.32). Moreover, all 9 studies that investigated strength as an outcome favored high-load training, and six of these studies showed a moderate to strong difference in magnitude of effect. In combination, this provides strong evidence that maximal strength gains require heavier loads.
Effect size data for hypertrophy also favored the high- versus low-load conditions (0.82 vs 0.39), although the differential was not nearly as compelling as for strength. Taken in combination with the trend for significance, this suggests a potential advantage for higher-load training when the goal is maximal hypertrophy.
When reconciling findings, the results of our analysis provide compelling evidence that the use of light loads can be effective for increasing muscle size as well as muscle strength. These findings have wide-ranging implications for many populations, particularly the elderly and those with medical conditions that might preclude the use of use of heavier loads (i.e. osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, etc). Alternatively, those seeking to maximize muscular adaptations would require at least some use of heavy loading. Despite an inability to detect significant differences between conditions, the findings indicate a clear advantage for the use of heavier loads to maximize strength gains. There is a suggestion that heavy loads promote greater hypertrophic increases as well, but this inference is not as convincing. With respect to hypertrophy, it can be hypothesized that combining high- and low-loads could optimize fiber-type specific growth across the spectrum of myofiber isoforms. This hypothesis warrants further study.
A primary limitation of the meta-analysis was that all of the studies analyzed were carried out in untrained individuals; no published study to date has evaluated the topic in well-trained individuals. The good news is that I have completed just such a study, where subjects were all experienced lifters. The study is currently in review. I hope to be able to share results and their implications soon. Stay tuned!
http://www.lookgreatnaked.com/blog/ligh ... ld-muscle/
It took me a while to extricate myself from the "agreement" even though absolutely no money had changed hands and nothing had been signed
tsurugi wrote:Gus Mueller - who is this?
why would this cast doubt on anything I say? why would you be disappointed?
the OP wondered what had happened to my book/project - I explained that I was busy trying to develop it with some people who had very different ideas about how the project should go that I was not comfortable with. It trundled along for a while until I changed my mind and eventually opted out - why on earth would this concern you or have any bearing on what I say in the book or elsewhere?
What? You removed yourself from a business deal you didn't like?
Tsurugi is the norths 'Dodgy Dave'
Only kidding mate. hope your well.
I really enjoyed the book on turn of the century fitness figures.
The look those gentlemen had always intrigued me as it was so specific. Thank you for detailing how they did that. Your fitness model for the exercise demos in the back was likewise interesting as he replicated the look perfectly.
Just curious, who is your editor?
Did you notice any fat loss during the process or have you always been very lean?
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