Wednesday Wisdom: Resistance Training Methods

Functional training tools such as the kettlebell, functional bags, cables and to a lesser extent battling ropes can be used to elicit improvements in some morphological and neural adaptations that lead to improvements in strength, power, and muscle size.  In this exciting infographic by sports scientist Yan Le Meur, it has been identified which resistance training methods may be better matched to each of these three training goals; as determined by the volume-load prescription (this = total reps + load).

Where the higher the number of “+” the more beneficial effect, it can be seen, for example, variable resistance (alteration to the length-tension curve of an exercise) offers well-rounded benefits for strength, power, and hypertrophy. The great news here is, the effectiveness of kettlebell exercise for all three of these goals can be significantly increased; by merely by adding a resistance band, which creates a variable resistance effect (more resistance at the end of the swing). The kettlebell swing is a very compatible exercise to combine with a strength-band, and it is already very well known how useful this exercise is for strength and power, now it appears the addition of a strength band can also enhance the muscle building effect.

The next most useful training modality according to this infographic is eccentric training. Once again, here is where the strength band, when combined with a ballistic kettlebell exercise, can magnify the already existing benefits.  The band has a strong tendency to exaggerate the eccentric component of a kettlebell swing and thus provide the additional benefit of higher eccentric forces on the hips and lower limbs, augmenting strength, power, and muscle growth effects. The combined benefit of variable-resistance and eccentric training, makes a resistance banded kettlebell swing, a desirable option for a time-poor athlete who needs to achieve multiple benefits from an exercise in a short period. Other interesting findings here, include the bilateral effect exercises have over unilateral (single arm or leg) exercises for building strength and power. However, it should be noted, that these results may have been affected by the study participants relative strength. However, unilateral exercises are thought to be more beneficial for sport specific applications and to enhance the recruitment of core muscles. The small effects of body weight training may also have been affected by the training background of the study participants, who just may have to be to-well trained to see any further improvements in strength and power from bodyweight training alone.  Finally, the results shown for potentiation complexes is somewhat novel.

Challenge Question: How else could we use the results from this infographic to enhance the effects of functional training on strength, power and hypertrophy?