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"Medicina Sportiva" No.14 - 2008 The 15-th Sports Medicine Balkan Congress
APPLIED EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGY


STRENGTH AND POWER TRAINING FOR ELITE ATHLETES

Dušan Hamar
Institute of Sports Sciences, Faculty of Physical Education and Sports, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia


In strength training weights may be lifted at different velocities depending namely on motivation and fatigue. Lifting the same weight at different velocities elicits different peak force as well as peak and mean power. It may be assumed that these differences can have a substantial impact on adaptation processes and the training outcome. With the aim to test this assumption two training studies have been carried out. In the first one the subjects performed the same weight training (6 set 6 reps each, with 70 % of 1RM, 3 times a week for 8 weeks) with the only difference in velocity in concentric phase. One group trained at rather commonly used slow velocities (0.2 m/s to 0.3 m/s), another one lifted the weights applying full effort, i.e. at highest attainable velocities (between 0.6 m/s and 0.7 m/s).
Results showed that both groups improved significantly in all parameters tested, i.e. 1RM, maximal power, as well as mean power and fatigue index in diagnostic set of 15 maximal effort repetitions with 70 % of 1RM. However, the gains due to fast velocity training were much more pronounced as compared to the effect of training regime consisting of exercises performed at low velocities in concentric phase. Better effect of dynamic type of training may be ascribed to differences in recruitment of muscle fibres. Since repetitions with the same weight performed at faster speed require recruitment of higher number of muscle fibres, more effective stimulation may be expected. Also higher peak forces could contribute to greater gains after more dynamic type of training. More pronounced testosterone and human growth hormone response to exercise bouts of higher intensity might also foster the adaptation processes after training performed at high velocities in concentric phase.
In the second study two groups underwent 8-week traning program with 70 % of 1RM.  Bench press sessions (3 in a week) consisted of 3 sets 10 reps each (group 1) or 10 sets 3 reps each (group 2). Every repetition had to be performed with maximal effort in concentric phase. Results showed that though there were no significant differences in gains of maximal isometric force, the values of force, subjects were able to generate in initial 200 ms of maximal voluntary contraction increased singnificantly higher in the group performing more sets with fewer repetitions. This can be ascribed to the factthat intensity of repetitions performed in shorter sets was substantially higher than in more fatiguing sets of 10 reps each. Drop in power production is assumably due to fatigue of fast twitch fibers, which fail to recruite fully to the end of the more exhaustive high repetition sets. Such a lesser stimulation of fast twitch fibers leads to their less pronounced adaptation changes resulting in failure to significantly improve rate of the force development.    
It may be concluded that in explosive type of sports, in which maximal muscular power as well as the rate of the force development are important factors of performance, lifting weights with maximal effort in concentric phase with lower number of repetition in sets seems to be more appropriate alternative of strength training than the one performed at slow velocities till pronounced exhaustion.





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