A study by Human Performance and Neuromuscular Physiology at Loughborough University may have found an efficient way to improve muscle strength. There continues to be debate on what is the best way to improve muscular strength. What Dr. Jonathan Folland suggests from the study was that short bursts of contractions lasting one second can help. Sustained three second contractions can also contribute to muscular strength. Strength training has multiple applications related to health and treatment of disease. Rehabilitation and the treatment of osteoarthritis strength training has become a solution. Athletes looking to improve their performance incorporate it into their training. There was at time in which some athletes believed that using weights would harm their performance. The scientific data proves the opposite and there is more to learn. The study claims ” the results showed that explosive contractions are an easier and less tiring way of increasing strength and functional capacity of the muscles, and therefore a highly efficient method of training.” The role of the nervous system was not ignored. Apparently, the nervous system can switch on trained muscles. This makes sense seeing as the nervous system is responsible for both voluntary and involuntary movements. The traditional method was to train the muscle to the point of tiring. This method is used more for making muscles larger, rather than stronger. Some get confused when a person that appears bigger may not be able to lift as much as a smaller person. Training for aesthetics and performance are two different fitness goals. A fitness regimen may not require an individual to train to a high degree of exhaustion.
The experiment used a total of 43 men who were in their twenties. All were in good health condition. None had been through lower body training or done any form of training for 18 months prior to the study. The sample does not include women. If one really wanted to see the dramatic change in muscular strength, women would be the best subjects. The average woman has a lower amount of muscle mass compared to the average man. However, their bodies react to strength training. They experience muscular hypertrophy and can gain strength. If women have lower strength and muscle mass they would be perfect to demonstrate the effectiveness on the body. The study should not include professional female athletes, because it would distort the study. This is why subjects with average levels of physical fitness have to be selected.
The only muscle that was examined was the quadriceps muscle. The first group was required to do explosive contractions. The second group had to do the sustained contractions. The last set of subjects acted as a control group. This experiment lasted three months. Although the sample was small in comparison to other studies, it should be enough to have a reliable result. Three times a week in those months subjects trained with 40 contractions. The force was closely monitored following that measurements were recorded. This data was related to physiological and performance changes documented prior and after exercise. What was concluded goes against the common strength training method. Explosive burst contractions are better at building strength.If this is true it will change how athletes and lay exercisers approach exercise.
Dr. Folland was confident that the “no pain no gain” motto is not actually based in exercise physiology fact. This experiment must be replicated to be considered fact. Sample size, confounding factors, or other effects could have effected the results. Folland then explains : ” Whereas traditional strength training is made up of slow, grinding contractions using heavy weights which is quite hard work, this study shows that short, sharp contractions are relatively easy to perform and a very beneficial way of building up strength. ” The idea that training to exhaustion of the muscle will encourage greater hypertrophy as well as strength. There has to be enough microtrauma to induce muscle growth and strengthening of the fibers. Learning more about how strength training techniques can make improving sports performance easier. Fast explosive contractions could built strength efficiently and in a shorter amount of time. It must also be noted that there are other factors that determine sports performance. Diet and nutrition are critical, because the body requires fuel for long periods of physical activity. Genetics and somatotype also contribute to physical fitness capacity. There will still be variation among individuals in terms of results from a training regimen.
Short explosive contractions could be an effective means of treating osteoarthritis. This disease refers to when flexible tissue at the ends of the bones wears down. Cartilage acts as a protector and cushion between bones. Osteoarthritis can damage joints in the hips, hands, knees, and spine. Symptoms include pain in joints, stiffness, bone spurs, swelling, loss of flexibility, and a grinding sensation in the bones. There are numerous risk factors. This could include age, sex, constant stress on a joint, unhealthy weight, genetics, or bone deformities. Weight training could be both a preventative measure and a treatment. Lifting heavy would be too dangerous with someone with osteoarthritis. However, short contractions could be the best for someone with the disease. It will take some time to see if this type of exercise will be effective for people wit osteoarthritis.
Strength training is more complicated than previously thought. What can be said with certainty is that strength training can protect musculoskeletal health. Muscles and bones are built with exercise. This protects against break down that is related to age. This study must be repeated to see if can be applied to various individuals of different fitness levels. Dr. Jonathan Folland seems confident that explosive short burst contractions are more efficient at building strength. There are multiple methods designed to increase muscular strength. The best way to approach it continues to be debated. There also has to be a consideration to the fact everyone responds differently to a training regimen. Individuals may experience more muscular hypertrophy and strength than others based on genetics and body type.