London: Researchers have found that weightlifters could do less and get stronger by changing the amount they lift each session.
The researchers compared the average weights lifted by two groups over six weeks: one using a traditional training method of a “one rep max” – the maximum weight an athlete could lift – and one using a load velocity profile, where the weights were tailored so they lift either more or less at each session.
All who used the load velocity profile became stronger despite lifting less overall during the six week period, said the research, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
“The velocity-based training enabled us to see if they were up or down on their normal performance and thus adjust the load accordingly. It’s about making sure the athlete is lifting the optimal load for them, on that particular day,” said study lead author Harry Dorrell from the University of Lincoln in the UK.
“If you lift too little then you won’t stimulate the body as you intend to; but if you lift too much you’ll be fatigued, which increases the risk of injury,” Dorrell added.
According to the researchers, traditionally, the one rep max would be used to dictate the weight load for all sessions.
In a study, the research team established the one rep max in the two groups.
They then used a linear positional transducer – essentially a specialised stopwatch and tape measure – to record the length of time it took to lift the weight, and the distance the weight was moved to establish a “velocity measurement” in one of the groups.
That coupled with the one rep max established the load velocity profile for the athlete.
At each session, the load velocity group completed a warm-up consisting of a series of repetitions where the weight load was gradually increased and their velocity measurement taken.
Each rep was recorded and compared with their pre-established load-velocity profile.
This comparison enabled the participants’ training load to be adjusted based on their performance that day: if the athlete was moving the same load at a faster velocity, the weight was increased, but if they were lifting slower, the weight load would be reduced.
The findings can be used to improve muscular strength and power, and have positive implications for the management of fatigue during resistance training.