In terms of form, there might be a right way and a wrong way to do a certain exercise, but there will also be variations that have the potential benefit some active adults more than others. Consider this study recently published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Sixty-nine active and inactive female volunteers did a set of 3 traditional push-ups followed by another set of 3 suspended push ups. While the traditional push ups resulted in higher levels of triceps muscle activation in gymnasts and inactive subjects, soccer players experienced higher levels of triceps activation with suspended push ups.
Contrast training works the same muscle groups with both resistance and power movements. Think following a set on the bench press with medicine ball throws or doing squat jumps after barbell squats. A study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests this type of training is more beneficial to athletes with lower strength to power ratio.
Researchers had 22 rugby players perform 2 sets of squat jumps using 30% of one rep max (1RM) after 6 reps of half squats using 85% of 1RM. They found that peak power enhancement was not related to 1RM, but was negatively correlated to your power to strength ratio. Performance enhancements from contrast training are more likely when there’s a lower ratio between baseline peak power and 1RM half squat strength.
You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “go heavy or go home.” If you’re new to the weight room or just getting back after taking an extended break, a study recently published in the journal Medicina dello Sport suggest this might not be the best advice for beginners.
Researchers had 28 men with no weight lifting experience perform 4 sets of leg presses using 60%, 80% or 100% of their one rep max (1RM). Each set was performed to failure. Ratings of perceived exertion were highest for the 100% 1RM workout, as you might expect. Subjects using this load also reported more muscle soreness 72 hours after training. Start out with a moderate load and work your way up to greater intensities.
All kinds of athletes use stretching to help improve flexibility and extend range of motion. There are a couple of ways to perform this type of exercise, and a study published in theInternational Journal of Sports Medicine offers suggestions for getting the most out of the practice.
In a review of papers that included 23 articles, researchers found that all stretching protocols improved range of motion over a long-term period, but that static stretching was superior to ballistic and PNF techniques. In another finding, optimal range of motion results were obtained not during a single session, but over time with sessions 5 days a week lasting at least 5 minutes weekly.
Endurance athletes fuel performance with carbohydrate energy. Many athletes carb load for marathons and other long-distance races. An interesting study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance looks at the impact of carbohydrate consumption in short duration cycling events.
Thirteen experienced cyclists took part in 3 experimental time trails. Each consisted of 10 minutes of steady state riding at 60% of capacity followed by a workload targeted time trial. Ninety minutes before each session, subjects were given water, a carbohydrate shake or a placebo shake matched for taste and texture.
On average, subjects reached their time trial workload target faster with carbohydrates (18 minutes, 66 seconds) and placebo (18 minutes, 53 seconds) compared to water (19 minutes, 10 seconds). Researchers attributed these differences to being psychological rather than physiological.