Wednesday, November 25, 2015

GYM-Science Update: Bands Aid W/ Deadlifts? 16x1 or 4x4 for HIIT? Kettlebell HIIT Workout Better Than HIIT-Cycling?

Deadlifts w/ bands as they were done in the Galpin study (original photo from Galpin's 2015 study | see below).
Time for a news-quickie with the latest science to use at the gym - either for your workouts or just to impress the bros with your knowledge. I mean, who else reads and understands all the latest papers in the #1 strength and conditional journal on earth? Well, you do... ok, you read my laymen summaries, but your bros don't have to know that, do they?

Ok, that's enough of the pseudo-comedian warm-up, let's deadlift the first scientific paper... oh,yeah: Actually the paper is about deadlifting, deadlifting with resistance bands as it is shown in the photo on the right, where a subject performs the deadlift on a force plate.
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  • Deadlift with bands for power and speed - Galpin et al. (2015) investigated how using bands while deadlifting at different loads, namely 60 and 85% of one's individual 1RM, i.e. the maximal weight you can lift for exactly one perfect rep, would influence the power and velocity at which twelve trained men (age: 24.08 ± 2.35 years, height: 175.94 ± 5.38 cm, mass: 85.58 ± 12.49 kg) with deadlift 1 repetition maxima (1RM) of 188.64 ± 16.13 kg pulled the weight off the floor.

    The results of the study show that there were significant peak (yet not relative) power changes irrespective of whether only 15% of the total resistance (group B1) or 35% of the total resistance (group B1) came from the bands (vs. the actual weight).
    Figure 1: Relative changes in power and bar velocity (compared to training w/out bands = control); * denotes sign. difference to control, ** denotes significant difference to control and light bands (Galpin. 2015)
    The effect became even more pronounced and extended from peak to average power, when the subjects used the heavier (85% 1RM) weights. In this condition using bands lead to greater peak and relative power production and lowered the velocity significantly compared to the control condition in which the subjects lifted at the same total level of resistance, albeit without bands (all values in Figure 1 are relative differences).

    For trainees the data in Figure 1 could be highly relevant, because it indicates that heavy bands should be used, when "prescribing the deadlift for speed or power, but not maximal force" (Galpin. 2015). If that's not you, i.e. you're not training for speed and power, but e.g. for size, future long(er)-term studies will have to show whether using bands makes a difference with respect to this study training goal.
  • Interval length, can you really pick whichever suits your best? Even though a recent study by Wesley Tucker et al. (2015) shows that the rate of perceived exertion, as well as the mean heart rate of 14 recreationally active and thus not exactly jacked males who participated in their latest study were identical on 4x4 and 16x1 high intensity interval protocols (i.e. 4 intervals à 4 minutes vs. 16 intervals a 1 minute | see Figure 2), seasoned SuppVersity readers will probably remember that previous studies showed highly relevant differences in the long(er) term effects which obviously cannot be measured in an acute phase study like the one at hand.
    Figure 2: Illustration of the two HIIT protocols, incl. warm-up and cool down on cycle ergometers. White boxes are intervals during which the subjects were supposed to exercise at 90% of their peak heart rate (during the 16x1 protocol this was not achieved by all study participants in the latter intervals, though | Tucker. 2015).
    To be more specific, previous studies on high intensity interval training suggested that athletes who want to increase their VO2 max benefit more from fewer longer intervals, while "Mr. and Mrs. Average" could be better off improving their body composition and metabolic rate with a higher number of short intervals (even as short as 15 seconds in the Tabata protocol). Against that background and in order to explain or contradict the previous findings, it may be worth to consider other study outcomes in Tucker et al. (2015). Study outcomes which did differ. The total energy expenditure, for example, was 19% higher during the 16x1 protocol (p < 0.001) which is in line with the previously referenced recommendation of short intervals for people who are trying to lose weight.
    Figure 3: VO2, heart rate, and energy expenditure during the two HIIT protocols (watch the units! I converted them to be able to put all data into the same graph | Tucker. 2015).
    The VO2 uptake, as well as the maximal heart rates, which could be of interest for endurance athletes, on the other hand, were higher in the 4x4 protocol - a finding that would likewise support the previously voiced recommendation that (endurance) athletes should torture themselves with long(er) intervals to trigger further adaptations in VO2max and heart rate at a given power output.

    Overall, the study at hand will thus not revolutionize your training, but if you haven't read the previous SuppVersity articles, you may still have gotten some new insights into how you may want to adapt your HIIT training in the future.
  • Kettlebell or cycle ergometer? Which do you chose for your HIIT sessions? I've written about kettlebell swings as muscle builders before and I've also hinted at the possibility of using the "bells" for your HIIT workouts. Now, a recent study by Williams and Kraemer shows that
    "[kettlebell high intensity interval training aka] KB-HIIT may [even] be more attractive and sustainable than [sprint interval cycling aka] SIC and can be effective in stimulating cardiorespiratory and metabolic responses that could improve health and aerobic performance" (Williams. 2015).
    The purpose of the study was - you probably already guessed it - to determine the effectiveness of a novel exercise protocol we developed for kettlebell high-intensity interval training (KB-HIIT) in comparison to the classic, standard sprint interval cycling (SIC) exercise protocol most people associate with equipment-based HIIT sessions. To this ends, the researchers from the Southeastern Louisiana University had eight "very active" young men (mean age 21.5 years; body fat 18.52 +/-3.04%, fat free mass 67.44 kg of a total weight of 82.95 kg) complete two 12-minute sessions of KB-HIIT and SIC in a counterbalanced fashion.
    Figure 4: Overview of the KB-HIIT workout (my illustration).
    "In the KB-HITT session [exercises see Figure 4, mean weight depending on exercise and subject 10-22 kg], 3 circuits of 4 exercises were performed using a Tabata regimen.

    In the SIC session, three 30-second sprints were performed, with 4 minutes of recovery in between the first 2 sprints and 2.5 minutes of recovery after the last sprint" (Williams. 2015)
    The study's within-subjects' design over multiple time points allowed Williams and Kraemer to compare the oxygen consumption, the respiratory exchange ratio (RER, a marker of the ratio of fat to carbohydrates that is used as fuel during the workout), the tidal volume (TV, the volume of air that is inspired or expired in a single breath during regular breathing), the breathing frequency (f), the subject's minute ventilation (VE), caloric expenditure rate (kcal/min), and their heart rate (HR) on an individual basis between the exercise protocols. In conjunction with the total caloric expenditure which was likewise measured / calculated and compared. The total amount of data the authors collected was thus quite large.
    Figure 5: Mean total energy expenditure in kcal during the KB and SIC sessions (Williams. 2015)
    Significant inter-group differences were found for VO2, RER, TV and total energy expenditure, with VO2 and total energy expenditure being higher and TV and RER being lower in the KB-HIIT compared with the cycle ergometer HIIT protocol. For f, VE, the energy expenditure per minute and the heart rate, there were no general inter-group differences, but "only" significant group × time interactions. Practically speaking, this means that they changed differently over the course of the whole protocol and are thus maybe relevant for certain athletes, yet not for the general public.

    Overall, the William's and Kraemer's study does therefore support the notion that doing kettlebell HIIT workouts is probably at least on par with the classic cycling HIIT sessions. In view of the increased total caloric expenditure and the lower RER, which signifies a significantly higher fat oxidation during the workout, it is even possible that KB-HIIT would be the better choice for dieters than doing HIIT on a cycle ergometer. Since there is no direct link between fat oxidation and/or energy expenditure during workouts and fat loss, however, long(er)-term studies are necessary to find out whether doing KB-HIIT is in fact more than a equivalent and for many of you maybe funnier alternative to doing HIIT on a cycle ergometer. 
Block Periodization - Training revolution or simple trick? This is what we have to ask ourselves in view of the results of a previously discussed study from 2014 | Read the full SV-Classic article here!
Bottom line: That's it for today; so I suggest you take what you learned, pack it in your gymbag and go and impress your bros at the gym ;-) I am just kiddin'... actually I hope that you can really use some of the information in today's installment of the SuppVersity Short News to make your workouts more productive, more enjoyable and/or simply more versatile.

Personally, I will probably give the KB-HIIT workout a try,... and that even though I expect it to be much harder than cycling which is something I am already used to. But hey, isn't that what training is all about? You have to challenge your body - even if that means conquering your weaker self.

I mean, we all know that as soon as you are staying within the cozy comfort zone of doing the same exercises with the same weights workout after workout your progress will stall; and unless you are one of those people who hit the gym to be able to talk to their athletic friends, that's certainly nothing you should aim for | Comment on Facebook!
  • Galpin, AJ, Malyszek, KK, Davis, KA, Record, SM, Brown, LE, Coburn, JW, Harmon, RA, Steele, JM, and Manolovitz, AD. Acute effects of elastic bands on kinetic characteristics during the deadlift at moderate and heavy loads. J Strength Cond Res 29(12): 3271–3278, 2015
  • Tucker, WJ, Sawyer, BJ, Jarrett, CL, Bhammar, DM, and Gaesser, GA. Physiological responses to high-intensity interval exercise differing in interval duration. J Strength Cond Res 29(12): 3326–3335, 2015
  • Williams, BM and Kraemer, RR. Comparison of cardiorespiratory and metabolic responses in kettlebell high-intensity interval training versus sprint interval cycling. J Strength Cond Res 29(12): 3317–3325, 2015