Adaptations from HIIT to Endurance Training

One reason High-Intensity Interval Training is so popular with busy adults is the reduced time it takes to get in a good workout. That’s an attractive benefit, but are you giving anything up in the tradeoff with steady state endurance training? A study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise put both workouts to the test.

Researchers used high-density surface EMG and motor unit tracking to compare changes in vastus medialis and vastus lateralis muscles after 6 training sessions spread over 14 days. Sixteen cyclists were assigned to perform 8 to 12 intervals of one minute at 100% of capacity with 75 seconds of active recovery or 90 to 120 minutes of continuous cycling at 65% of capacity.


Compared to measurements taken before the training sessions began, HIIT improved maximal oxygen uptake, a key measurement of fitness, by 5%. Endurance training improved oxygen uptake by 6.7%. HIT improved knee extension torque by about 7% while endurance training increased time cycling to failure by around 17%.

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Cold Water Post Workout Recovery

You can experience a decrease in strength and muscle soreness for a day or two after a demanding workout. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance looks at a couple different methods for speeding recovery to get back in the game.

Researchers had 10 physically active male subjects perform 5 sets of hamstring eccentric exercises for 15 reps. Right after completing the workout, some were immersed in 50 degree water for 10 minutes. The others experienced whole body cryotherapy at -166 degrees for 3 minutes.


At 24, 48 and 72 hours into recovery, subjects performed single and double leg countermovement jumps. They also rated levels of muscle soreness and their progress on recovery. Countermovement jump performance was higher and reports of muscle soreness were lower for the cold water immersion group.


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When starting a muscle building program, one of the key body parts that most people put a large focus on is the biceps. It tends to be one of the highly noticeable muscle groups, and if you have nice biceps, people will know that you’re on top of your game. To achieve bigger and better biceps, here are the do’s and don’ts.



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Load Changes Bench Press Muscle Activation

What’s your best bench? It’s a question often asked in the weight room, and an ongoing goal pursued by many. An interesting study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows how muscle activation patterns can change when lifting close to your one rep max (1RM).

Twenty healthy men with a least a year of weight training experience performed single reps with the load increasing from 70% of 1RM, to 80%, 90% and finally 100% of 1RM. At the heaviest load, the pectoralis major becomes a supportive prime mover with the deltoideus anterior taking over as prime mover. The triceps brachii also show greater involvement at 100% of 1RM.

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Cycling vs Resistance HIIT

 If you’re working at improving your aerobic capacity and strength, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can offer you a streamlined approach to realizing those goals. Not only are HIIT workouts typical shorter than traditional steady state cardio, the increased intensity is a great way to change up a stale workout routine. An interesting study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research tested different HIIT routines on competitive strongmen and powerlifters.

The aerobic fitness and strength of 16 resistance trained men were measured before and after 8 weeks of HIIT. Some cycled while other performed effort and volume matched sets of weight training exercise. Although both groups showed significant improvements in aerobic fitness and strength, the cycling group realized greater improvements in aerobic capacity while gaining about the same amount of strength as subjects in the resistance HIIT group.

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Caffeine vs Excercise for Energy

Caffeine is the world’s most popular stimulant. It’s found in coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks. Everyone responds to caffeine a little differently, and the dose can make a big difference in the energizing effect. Consider the findings of a University of Georgia study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior.

Female college students who reported getting less than 6 ½ hours of sleep per night were put in a simulated office environment. Some got a placebo or a capsule containing 50 mg of caffeine. That’s about what a 12 ounce can of soda provides. Others walked up and down stairs at a normal pace for 10 minutes. Caffeine and placebo conditions weren’t all that different, but exercise energized subjects for a short period of time.

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Optimize The Potential Of Static Stretching

Old school against the joint stretching, known as static stretching, has been practiced for many years to increase mobility and reduce the risk of injury. Unfortunately, this technique can also decrease muscle performance. A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness suggests there may be a way to reduce the undesirable effects.


Fifteen college students performed a 2-part warm up or a 3-part warm up. Both warm ups included low intensity aerobic and sport specific exercise. The 3-part warm up also included static stretching. Tests performed afterward showed no differences in peak torque, mean power or total work. So sport specific movements might help reduce the negative effects of static stretching.


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Alternative Weight Training Workout

Getting stuck in the rut of sticking with the same weight training routine for too long can impede further progress. That’s why, every so often, it’s a good idea to take a very different approach. One example can be found in the findings of a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 

Fourteen weight trained subjects did 5 reps of kettlebell swing, snatch and clean movements using a load averaging 8 to 10 reps max. Analysis of muscle activation showed swings were better than the snatch for hitting the erector spinae muscles, swings were more effective than the clean for training lats, and both the snatch and clean worked better than swings for activating obliques. Using all these movements can provide an effective whole body workout.

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Build Bigger Biceps By Changing Your Reps

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Arm gains stalled? Time to alter the training stimulus by adjusting your rep scheme!
Follow these simple tips and you will definitely feel a difference

Altering your rep scheme is one way to jump-start your training, because it hits the muscle fibers with a novel stimulus.
Let’s say you’re stuck at 25 kgs on the EZ-bar curl, a weight you can handle for 10 reps. Rather than try another set with 20 kgs pounds, load 25 kgs onto the bar. You might be able to lift it for only 5-6 reps with good form, but don’t worry; you’ve just applied an altogether different stimulus to your biceps with a heavier load!
One common, proven method to building strength is a scheme called 5×5, meaning 5 sets of 5 reps. This protocol was popularized in the 1970s by the late Bill Starr, a legendary strength coach. You shouldn’t use the 5×5 technique with barbell curls, however; it’s more effective with multijoint exercises than single-joint exercises. Instead, we’ll choose the weighted chin-up, which uses an underhand grip and stimulate the biceps tremendously. 
The goal is to take a given weight and complete 5 sets of 5 reps, resting 2 minutes between sets. The best place to start in terms of load is with your 6RM—that is, a total weight (body weight plus added plates) that allows you to complete just 6 reps. Your 6RM should equal 85 percent of your 1RM.
The right load is one that lets you complete the first 2 sets of 5 reps—but not the third. (Do just 5 reps, even if you can do more.) Adjust the load accordingly if that’s not the case. Over time, once you’re able to complete all 5 sets for 5 reps, add 5-10 pounds to the load and start again.
Even a scheme like 5×5 can become stale over time, so there are other options to consider. Choosing a weight at which you fail at 8 or even 12 reps also offers a marginally different training stimulus. Concurrently adding a fourth set to increase the training volume allows you to vary the stimulus even more.

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Results with Volume Weight Training

Resistance training will help build muscle when you consume adequate amounts of protein and allow enough time for recovery. Weight training can also impact your body in other ways. Consider the findings of a study on lab rats published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.

Matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) play important roles in the growth and remodeling of different tissues. To see how they react to 8 weeks of resistance training, researchers tied weights to the tails of lab rats and had them perform 2 sets of 4 or 8 ladder climbs using 50% to 100% of their maximum carrying capacity.


The rodents that did 8 ladder climbs showed greater MMP activity compared to rats that did 4 ladder climbs and a control group that didn’t exercise. Higher volume resistance training increased MMP activity in muscle while reducing MMP activity in body fat.

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How accurate is your wearable?

Wrist worn fitness trackers are popular with active adults, but how do they compare to old school heart monitors secured with a chest strap? Research presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 66th Annual Scientific Session put 5 popular wrist worn fitness trackers to the heart rate monitoring test.

Fifty male and female volunteers with an average age of 38 wore a fitness tracker on each wrist or forearm along with EKG and heart rate chest monitors while exercising on a treadmill, stationary bike and elliptical machine for 18 minutes.

The heart rate monitor worn across the chest closely matched EKG results. The error range of wrist worn devices was plus or minus 15 to 34 beats per minute. Wearable technology was most accurate on a treadmill at low exercise intensity. Most were inaccurate when exercising on an elliptical machine at high intensity. 

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Maximum aerobic capacity, which often appears as VO2max in scientific papers, is one of the best ways to measure cardiovascular fitness and aerobic power. You can train to improve strength, fitness and agility, so it makes sense that you should also be able to improve maximal aerobic capacity. A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness investigates the impact of positive feedback.

Regular runners took a VO2max test, and within 2 weeks, took the test again. Before the second test, some subjects were told it was just for verification of the first test while others were told they scored above average. Those in the test verification group showed an average VO2max decrease of 4.11% on the second test. Subjects who were told they were above average increased VO2max by an average of 3.28%.

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You’ve no doubt heard the legendary weight room proclamation, ‘Go heavy or go home’. In fact, lifting heavy isn’t the only way to build muscle size and strength. So now the question becomes what’s the ideal rest interval for low-load failure training? A study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine attempts to find an answer.

Fourteen subjects performed reps to failure on different exercises using 40% of their one rep max. Some rested 30 seconds between sets while others rested 150 seconds. All of these volunteers trained twice weekly.

After 8 weeks, triceps size increased an average of 9.8% for the short rest group and 10.6% for subjects who rested longer. Thigh size increased 5.7% with short rest and 8.3% with the longer rest interval. Bench press one rep max increased 9.9% with short rest and 6.5% with a longer interval. Squat one rep max increased 5.2% with short rest and 5.4% with the longer interval.

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You like to tell people that you train 5 days a week every week. But if your goal is to maximize strength, you might want to consider taking 3 to 5 days off about once a month. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests a short period of de-training can boost results.

Eight men with weight lifting experience were tested before and after a pair of 4-week training periods, and also after each rest period of 3.5 or 5.5 days with no weight training. All subjects exhibited improved peak force and countermovement jump height. These expressions of maximal strength were similar between groups and probably a result of decreased muscle fatigue.

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Even if you’re in good shape, you can still build more muscle, shed more fat and improve your performance. Many adults actively engaged in these pursuits place their emphasis on the training aspect of the journey, but there might be another way. Consider the findings of new research from Skidmore University.

Fifty physically fit women and men between the ages of 30 and 65 who had exercised at least 4 days a week for 45 minutes per session for 3 years took part in the 12 week study. All subjects consumed the same amount of calories and followed the same strength and aerobic training program. Some got the recommended amount of protein while other received slightly more protein along with antioxidant supplements.

While all subjects showed improvements, subjects in the higher protein group experienced greater gains in upper body muscular endurance and power, core strength and aerobic power.

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