For better results at strength training, a particular strength training technique that allows athletes to increase strength by progressing at their own pace is suggested over the standard techniques in which resistance is steadily increased.
The scientists have found that the autoregulatory progressive resistance exercise (APRE) is more beneficial than the standard ones.
"For the strength coach or practitioner who must demonstrate the greatest strength and strength-endurance gains during short-duration training cycles, APRE training is effective," said J. Bryan Mann of University of Missouri.
In the study, 23 division I collegiate football players were randomly assigned to two different six-week strength training programs.
One group performed traditional "linear periodization" (LP) training, in which resistance (weight) is gradually added week by week.
The other group received the APRE approach, in which athletes "increase strength by progressing at their own pace, based on daily and weekly variations in performance," Mann and co-authors explained.
After six weeks, athletes assigned to APRE had greater improvements in strength than the LP group. Maximal (one repetition) bench press strength increased by an average of 93 pounds in the APRE group, compared to little or no change in the LP group. Maximal squat strength improved by 193 pounds with APRE, compared to 37 pounds with LP.
The APRE group also had greater improvement in bench press endurance. The number of times they were able to bench press a load of 225 pounds increased by three repetitions on average, compared to little or no change with LP.
For competitive athletes seeking to increase strength, periodization produces greater strength gain. In the traditional LP approach, this is done by gradual, steady increases in weight. APRE offers an alternative approach, allowing athletes to increase strength at their own pace by catering to their individual strength or performance on a daily basis.
The findings were published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning, official research journal of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.