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  • Strength Training Progression Models in Performance Training

    I'd like to talk about progression models used in resistance training. I'm thinking about variable manipulation such as load, sets and reps, and how to progress in a strength program designed for performance.

    We'll specifically be talking about the manipulation of variables and the kinds of responses that those might bring.

    Join right in!

    To start off with, a link:

    Wiki on Strength Training
    Jason Silvernail DPT, DSc, FAAOMPT
    Board-Certified in Orthopedic Physical Therapy
    Fellowship-Trained in Orthopedic Manual Therapy

    Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist


    The views expressed in this entry are those of the author alone and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US Government.

  • #2
    High Intensity Training / Superslow Training

    Periodically, the "High Intensity Training" scam will rear it's ugly head again - as if springing from the lips of Arthur Jones (RIP) himself.

    Full disclosure: I feel SuperSlow/HIT is the Myofascial Release of the strength and conditioning world. I'll admit the bias right away.
    I attached a bunch of files and and NSCA position statement to support my points.

    We talked about this on the PT Space discussion board, and I'll insert my comments from there as well:

    SuperSlow is simply a repackaging of the so-called "High Intensity Training". This has been thoroghly refuted in the exercise science literature - it's few studies are methodologically flawed, and it's underlying theory is as well.

    I find it great for treating tendonopathy or the early stages of recovery from a joint injury when we're trying to keep the forces on the healing tissue low while still providing a stimulus to the muscle-tendon unit.

    It's definitely just a new marketing spinoff on Arthur Jones' theories in the 1970s with single set resistance training.
    Not a problem to introduce a cycle of this to a client when working towards strength (let's be honest, with a new trainee just about any program will produce improvements) but only for a brief period.

    Ultimately, you need intensity (via increased load and force generation) to produce strength increases.
    The growth mechanism is not fully understood, but this much we do know - we have to challenge the muscle with increases in intensity/load to "ask it" to generate more force - in order to improve strength and create hypertrophy. SuperSlow does not do this.

    We may get more of a Type I response with a slower contraction, and some component of eccentrics probably help in that way. For example, 2 second concentric, 1 second pause, 3-4 second eccentric. Further slowing the contraction down (as SuperSlow demands) essentially helps you burn through your local muscle energy without really challenging the muscle to develop more force. Also, Type I fibers have little ability to hypertrophy or to generate large amounts of force in a short time course, so trying to increase strength this way does not make physiologic sense. I think with a new trainee just about any program will show results, including SuperSlow. Also, changing the program in a new way will further challenge an experienced trainee, so a 3-4 week cycle of SuperSlow probably won't hurt performance in the long run. But using it as the base of a program is clearly a mistake, both theoretically and practically (see attached outcome studies in the files section).

    I think you are right about power in it's importance for the elderly. People end up in nursing homes due to not being able to generate enough force to move safely, and this can be trained by targeting strength (increasing force generation ability by progressing load) and power (increasing speed of contraction) - both of which are conspicuously absent from the SuperSlow paradigm.

    The very issue of specificity, as you mentioned, is the essential problem with SuperSlow. Using SuperSlow, we are asking someone to lift less weight than they could through an artificially slow time course. That meets kinematic specificity, but not kinetic specificity at all. So if we're using SuperSlow for more than a few weeks, we've chucked much of the SAID right out the window.

    SuperSlow is a gimmick method, and no one in the strength and conditioning world takes it seriously, other than the people who wrote the books and those profiting from selling the concept directly.

    I think eccentric-emphasis exercises are great to start off with for an elderly client or for someone recovering from a joint injury or with tendonopathy. But it is clearly inferior, theoretically and practically, to traditional modes of training where load is progressed more regularly, contractions are faster, and multiple sets are the rule.

    Dr Bill Evans, an exercise physiologist, has done some really interesting work with resistance training and elderly patients in his laboratory. Generally, they carry out good training with heavier loads and show great results. Try PubMed and "Evans WJ" with the term "exercise" and you'll see a boatload of good stuff. He shows repeatedly that the elderly, even the frail elderly, can tolerate progressive load strengthening exercises and that they are better than low load programs (of which SuperSlow is an example).
    Ideas? Am I off base on my muscle physiology?
    Attached Files
    Jason Silvernail DPT, DSc, FAAOMPT
    Board-Certified in Orthopedic Physical Therapy
    Fellowship-Trained in Orthopedic Manual Therapy

    Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist


    The views expressed in this entry are those of the author alone and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US Government.

    Comment


    • #3
      Looking for some clarification

      Is there no weight progression in SuperSlow?

      Is max weight lifted (my working definition of "strength" for the context of this conversation) a determinant for success in most sports?
      "I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing"--Bob Morris

      Comment


      • #4
        Jason,

        Your bias is obvious, but thanks for admitting it anyway. Your statements don't even make sense.

        On the contrary, HIT has not been refuted and there is more research that supports its tenets all the time. You say the theory is flawed, but then you talk about the importance of intensity and weight progression.

        There is room for argument with strict application of SuperSlow as described by Hutchins; however, your reaction here is way out of proportion to a logical system of exercise progression with an eye to safety. Hutchins has not made many friends in the exercise physiology community because he has been saying for years that they need to be looking at the importance of resistance training. We are finally seeing this borne out in the research. You act as if NSCA never does any marketing and isn't full of gimmicks! The research provided is mostly based on bias and bad measurement. Let's not pretend that exercise is a mature science.

        Jon,

        Yes, SuperSlow does involve weight progression. The main argument with SuperSlow is that the load is too low if the time to momentary fatigue is too high.

        The load is what determines muscle fiber recruitment, not the speed of movement. The problems Jason mentions in his comments are easily remedied with slight changes inmethodology. The avoidance of acceleration and ballistic movement remains important for anyone wishing to avoid injury (which should be everyone).

        Nick
        Nick Matheson, PT
        Strengthen Your Health

        Comment


        • #5
          In regards to the growth mechanism - there is a difference between increasing strength and increasing bulk and achieving one doesn't automatically involve achieving the other. Part of strength is to do with the nervous system - fully activating all the muscle and generating the maximum tension possible - think of thai kick-boxers. They can't be accused of a lack of strength but they don't carry bulk.

          The idea of working to fatigue doesn't make sense to me. Why teach your nervous system to fail? I know that some believe that you have to fatigue to increase bulk but that simply isn't true - you have to increase the demands on the body and that can be done without reaching fatigue (I'll try to find some references to this).I think the effect of the nervous sytem in strength training is underestimated to our detriment.

          Jason - you want to talk about the progression of a program designed for performance but what kind of performance? Some sports require more endurance, others more explosive/ballistic - can we be more specific or am I missing something?

          Clare

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi Nick.

            Let's not pretend that exercise is a mature science.
            Won't argue with you on this one - I agree that there is room for improvement in most areas of exercise physiology and also for performance training. Probably if things were clearer, we wouldn't be seeing the large variation we currently do in program design. Just wait till I get started on periodization!
            Your statements don't even make sense.
            Please enlighten me. It's been some time since I looked at this in depth - I'm fully ready to admit that my knowledge could use an update, so please help me out.

            There is room for argument with strict application of SuperSlow as described by Hutchins;
            Perhaps we're closer here than it appears, and that a more specific definition of terms and variables might help us out. I believe it's clear that some level of eccentric contraction is required for strength gains and growth - perhaps we're merely disagreeing on what the optimal balance is between controlled motion/eccentrics and load? If that's the case, and if we're both in a general ballpark, I doubt that either of us can show we are right conclusively. I mean, if you recommend loading to 70-80% of 1RM and progressing load with strength gains, then may be we just disagree about speed of movement? Perhaps we're splitting hairs and we're essentially on the same page?

            You act as if NSCA never does any marketing and isn't full of gimmicks!
            Actually, I don't act that way, but in any case, this isn't an argument for SuperSlow or a refutation of the argument I have made.

            The research provided is mostly based on bias and bad measurement.
            This would surprise me, considering the source and the references, but as I said I'm willing to believe I need a knowledge update and I'm looking forward to being corrected and learning more. I suppose it's possible that these studies and the position stand from an international exercise organization are simply wrong and are ignoring large volumes of data - but I have my doubts. Could you be more specific on what your concerns are? These are articles published in peer-reviewed journals, and position stands based directly on those articles - I have to say I believe the burden of proof rests with you at this point.

            When I hear someone talk about SuperSlow or HIT, one of their prime concerns is injury prevention. Now, if weight training were associated with a high injury rate, then perhaps they might be on to something. However, my reading of the current research leads me to believe that simply isn't true. In fact, even in old and frail patients, Bill Evans has shown good gains in strength and function using standard loading protocols (80% 1RM) and no significant injury rate. Here's an example

            Strength Training in the Elderly
            To avoid confusion - when they mention "high-intensity" please bear in mind that they are talking about 80% of 1RM (and they note that), not "high-intensity" in terms of SuperSlow.

            For other examples, feel free to search for "evans wj strength" on PubMed for a listing of others.

            Clarett-
            ...there is a difference between increasing strength and increasing bulk and achieving one doesn't automatically involve achieving the other.
            This is true, and while the current thought is that bulk comes from volume and strength from load, this is probably oversimplistic. I don't think anyone has this line between strength and bulk clearly marked. One of the best ways to see this is the difference between weightlifters (the Olympic Sport) and body builders - in terms of their respective training regimens. On Thai boxers - many of them do not strength train and are not that strong. They are short and have great strength-body weight ratios in general and can generate a lot of acceleration - but I'm not sure I would equate that with strength.

            The idea of working to fatigue doesn't make sense to me.
            Some degree of fatigue is necessary if we are to determine the optimal load, and fatigue is a necessary part of the training process. One of the criticisms of SuperSlow in the attached position stand was in the area of nervous fatigue/central fatigue. I'll admit I don't have much knowledge in this area, so I'm hoping others can help out as well.
            Jason Silvernail DPT, DSc, FAAOMPT
            Board-Certified in Orthopedic Physical Therapy
            Fellowship-Trained in Orthopedic Manual Therapy

            Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist


            The views expressed in this entry are those of the author alone and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US Government.

            Comment


            • #7
              I think giving what Nick has said elsewhere that there isn't all that much difference in our philosophies. I would differentiate between HIT and Superslow. The concept that I believe Nick is referrring to is the idea that shorter duration, higher intensity exercise with longer recovery being an efficient method, and I would agree that is the direction that we are generally headed.

              What I meant earlier about "training to be inefficient" has been partly covered here. There are neural adaptations, specificity issues, muscular coordination issues and the fact that balance, kinesthetic sense, movement efficiency, body positioning, and metabolic conditioning are purposedly ignored or altered in slowmotion training as compared to how things are actually done in other aspects of life. The argument can be that strength trainings goal is to increase strength and other aspects are to be trained separately, but this to me is "non-functional and inefficient". Yes, sports specific skill needs to be trained separately from strength, that specificity of movement has to be conducted within a pretty narrow range of increased or decreased resistance. There are however general movements that are common to most sports and to ADL that can be trained, for example lunging, squatting, overhead lifting, trunk rotation, etc. It is these movements that form the base of athletic strength and also daily performance. Picking up a suitcase and carrying it up a flight of stairs, lifting a box, putting a heavy case in the overhead bin, these are the things that we want patients to be able to do and there are ways to train general movements that enhance their ability to do that. Superslow is not one of them because it only addresses one factor and usually in an isolated manner.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Jason Silvernail View Post
                Just wait till I get started on periodization!
                Can hardly wait.

                Originally posted by Jason Silvernail View Post
                Please enlighten me.
                Just look at your own statements. You talk about the importance of intensity and weight progression. You previously mentioned the support for one-set training. I think Jones deserves some credit for these ideas and your dismissal of HIT is off base.

                Originally posted by Jason Silvernail View Post
                Perhaps we're closer here than it appears, and that a more specific definition of terms and variables might help us out.
                Perhaps...in some ways. We are definitely very far apart on your inflammatory claim that HIT is the MFR of exercise. In fact, your tone reminds me of your early arguments against Simple Contact. Let's start by defining intensity. Let's also drop the use of SuperSlow in favor of slow-motion training. There is dispute even among HIT advocates and slow-motion trainers about the specifics of SuperSlow. I have only stated that speed should be slow enough to perform a smooth turnaround. And yes, I would agree that optimal load is 75-80% 1 RM and that progression is essential for training results.

                Originally posted by Jason Silvernail View Post
                I suppose it's possible that these studies and the position stand from an international exercise organization are simply wrong and are ignoring large volumes of data - but I have my doubts. Could you be more specific on what your concerns are?
                These are largely opinion pieces and get much of the details wrong. I could deconstruct, but think I will begin by trying to provide a proper understanding and also offering a few concessions to your point of view. I do not think that SuperSlow is the final word of exercise, but the field is full of even more opinion than the rehab field. At least SuperSlow has articulated its philosophy, even if it requires some revision. The research pieces provided use some spurious measures that are irrelevant to the investigation. In aiddition, one compares SS to Nautilus, which you've also criticized in your condemnation of HIT. Interesting that all the articles concede some improvements and mention there may be a place for SS in an overall training program. You said the same. Do you think there is place for MFR in manual therapy?

                Thanks for the Evans link. I am very aware of his work. "Standard loading protocols says nothing about repetition speed. An, we've already covered the need to define intensity.


                Jason, acceleration and loading with improper form are certainly situation where injury can occur. I would need to look at the data more closely, but people who play with fire are going to get burned. I don't think I'll have my patients hopping off boxes and standing on Bosu balls anytime soon. I laugh at the idea of an elderly lady doing an O-lift.


                Bulk occurs in people who have the genetic capability or hormonal support to produce it. Period.

                One of the principles of training is overload. Exercise occurs when you ask the muscle to do something it cannot do. As Jason said, some fatigue is required.

                Randy, getting stronger makes people better at whatever they do. I appreciate your balance and respect your opinion.

                Nick
                Nick Matheson, PT
                Strengthen Your Health

                Comment


                • #9
                  This link provides a more balanced view and an interesting perspective.

                  http://www.naturalstrength.com/weigh...?ArticleID=102


                  Nick
                  Nick Matheson, PT
                  Strengthen Your Health

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Important links. The Carpinelli, Otto, and Winnett article is a great overview of the exercise literature. Not sure why so much of it was ignored in determining a Position Stand.

                    The Arthur Jones link also shows what recommendations line up most with the available literature.

                    I don't want to sling references back and forth because I think we all know what the state of evidence is. Research in exercise and rehabilitation is still in its infancy.
                    Attached Files
                    Nick Matheson, PT
                    Strengthen Your Health

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      http://www.exercisestandards.org/vo2.htm

                      This link looks at one of the major problems with the gold standard of testing in exercise physiology - VO2 Max. Highly recommend you take a look.
                      Nick Matheson, PT
                      Strengthen Your Health

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hi Nick.
                        I suspected we were closer than it first appeared. If you agree that optimal loading is 70-80%1RM range, then you're obviously not supporting the use of HIT/SuperSlow as a primary exercise mode for performance training, and therefore I'm a bit confused as to why you find my statements about HIT "inflammatory".

                        I think it's probably physiologically impossible to use that load and do a HIT protocol. It's too heavy to lower with control for 10 seconds concentric and 8-10 seconds eccentric as SuperSlow recommends, for example.

                        I think if we can agree that 70-80%1RM is a load goal, that load needs to be progressed, that repetitions should be controlled for a smooth turnaround, and that people don't need to lift 3/wk high volume to improve, then I'm honestly not sure what the argument is about.

                        Maybe when we are using the term HIT, we are thinking of different things. Perhaps we're only arguing about how long the eccentric motion is?

                        Just look at your own statements. You talk about the importance of intensity and weight progression. You previously mentioned the support for one-set training. I think Jones deserves some credit for these ideas and your dismissal of HIT is off base.
                        Intensity (here meaning load) and load progression are important, of course - and you can't do that with HIT-type protocols because you can't get to 80%1RM with a slow rep, and the kinematics don't make sense for SAID. Certainly I give Jones credit for shaking up the exercise world and stirring controversy, but the claims made about the superiority of HIT have not been demonstrated in comparison studies that I posted. I agree that slinging references may not be the best idea, but at some point we may have to at least get into the studies a bit before calling them "opinion pieces". They were published in the peer-reviewed "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" after all. I think if HIT/SuperSlow proponents have revised their theory so much that it now looks like traditional training but with a bit of an extended eccentric and a decrease in volume, then we're truly splitting hairs so far, and I'm wondering if these positions are far enough apart to bother coming up with new names for them, if we're just changing the window-dressing, after all.

                        I don't think I'll have my patients hopping off boxes and standing on Bosu balls anytime soon. I laugh at the idea of an elderly lady doing an O-lift.
                        Good, I wouldn't recommend that, either. Good thing this is a performance training thread and not rehab, huh?

                        In fact, your tone reminds me of your early arguments against Simple Contact.
                        Yeah, I like to start hot to get a good discussion rolling. I'm kind of a scrapper that way. Part of my charm, wouldn't you agree? Well, maybe not. :teeth:

                        Do you think there is place for MFR in manual therapy?
                        No but there's a place for light contact manual methods. Just the theory needs updating, wouldn't you agree?

                        Maybe I just have a characterization of HIT that doesn't hold true anymore?

                        More later.
                        Jason Silvernail DPT, DSc, FAAOMPT
                        Board-Certified in Orthopedic Physical Therapy
                        Fellowship-Trained in Orthopedic Manual Therapy

                        Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist


                        The views expressed in this entry are those of the author alone and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US Government.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          nick --thanks for the links esp the balanced training and vo2 articles. I really liked the former from an 'emotional' stand point --he is dead right the world if full of devotees of approaches which have their favourite science to back it up but is often irrelevant in the general scheme of things . The Vo2 one was great with interrelated brain and physiological pathways simply described .

                          This is a quote to think about
                          What training methods have you found most successful over the years?
                          There are no secret methods, only hard work. One arm dead hangs have helped a lot as has starting to train and climb more days in a row like other athletes.
                          Train to anaerobic 'failure' specifically in this case --one of the strongest climbers in the world .
                          In the real world getting out of a chair and going down hill after a TKR is the major problem for many . Basic fitness in our culture is to be honest apalling . I went on a practice hill walk and most couldn't get out of the woods --it was a micro hike .
                          I personally don't go near gyms and have no equipment but regualarly do squats , jumps and pull ups . I like the proprioceptive exercises on go animal .
                          For the average ageing citizen strength training makes sense and may eliminate a lot of these expensive dexa scans but there is no interest in it .

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Nick-
                            I just read your citations. I think you present a very interesting case, and it's immediately obvious that we are really on the same page on most issues.
                            I think we are both reading "HIT" and seeing/imagining two VERY different protocols of training.
                            I'm fully willing to believe that the HIT proponents have really changed much of what I found the most objectionable about their system, and in the end we're not far off from each other after all.

                            My resistance program is 3 sets per exercise, 2/wk, less than 2 hours per week, and never twice per day.
                            I'm willing to bet that if we put our programs up against each other, they're very similar and it's the terminology and not the real substance that's been at issue so far.
                            More hopefully tomorrow, thanks much for the "Arthur Jones" article especially - that's lots to think about.
                            Jason
                            Jason Silvernail DPT, DSc, FAAOMPT
                            Board-Certified in Orthopedic Physical Therapy
                            Fellowship-Trained in Orthopedic Manual Therapy

                            Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist


                            The views expressed in this entry are those of the author alone and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US Government.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Nick I'm trying to learn more about this SuperSlow training. Please bear with me if my questions seem odd.
                              When you talk about momentary muscle failure, do you mean of a specific muscle, a group of muscles (agonists), or a functional system (agonists, antagonists, stablizers)? Could it refer to any or all of these?
                              Eric Matheson, PT

                              Comment

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