Strength and Conditioning Research the TL;DR Version – June 2016

Does getting stronger make soccer players faster?

William Styles et al looked at the effect of 6 weeks of strength training utilising the squat exercise (2x per week utilising 80-95% RM) had on 5,10 and 15 meter sprint performance.  They trained 25 professional soccer player who played for a professional english club.

After 6 weeks of training the players realised a significant gain in 1RM squat strength (125.4 kg to 149.3 kg on average), relative strength (1.66x BW to 1.96x BW on average) and sprint times 5m (1.11 to 1.05 on average) 10m (1.83 to 1.78 on average) and 20m (3.09 to 3.04 on average).

The programme was also performed during the competitive season.

TL;DR – Soccer player are weak and slow.  If they lift weights for 6 weeks they become a lot less weak and a bit less slow.

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Effects of cycling vs running on endurance performance in Inline speed skating.

Sixteen high level inline skating athletes where assigned two one of two programmes both of which involved training at an intensity of 52% vo2 max until they had burned 500 kcal of energy.  Before taking part ing the study all athletes took part in fitness testing utilising both inline skating and running (on a treadmill) or biking (on a cycle ergometer).

Both groups performed the same intensity and volume of training 2x per week for a period of 8 weeks.  After the training all groups increased significantly on all fitness parameters measured.  Neither cycling or running showed a significant improvement over the other intervention.  Both groups showed a drop in technical efficiency when they went back to inline skating.

TL;DR – If you are only training for increases in aerobic fitness then running or cycling seem to be as equally effective.

BRISBANE - AUGUST 22: Shane Warne of Australia performs bicep curls during a weights training session for the Australian cricket team held today at the Brisbane Grammar School in Brisbane, Australia on August 22, 2002. (Photo by Jonathan Wood/Getty Images)
BRISBANE – AUGUST 22: Shane Warne of Australia performs bicep curls during a weights training session for the Australian cricket team held today at the Brisbane Grammar School in Brisbane, Australia on August 22, 2002. (Photo by Jonathan Wood/Getty Images)

The relationship between speed and power with throwing velocity in Elite Cricket players.

Freeston et al looked at 17 elite cricket players and performed a cross sectional study design where they tested for a host of strength and power measures and juxtaposed it to a measure of throwing velocity with a cricket ball (from a stretched position utilising a 3 meter run up).

Following on from what must be commended as a thorough statistical analysis they found that.  Lateral to medial jump (on the dominant leg), internal rotation strength on the throwing arm and medicine ball rotation throw and medicine ball chest pass distance all correlated significantly with throwing performance.

Possibly of more interest from a strength and power training standpoint was the lack of significant relationship shown for bench press, back squat, vertical jump and non dominant leg or arm measures.  All exercises that are typically thought to be the most useful strength and power exercises for a sports performance programme, specificity of training who would have thought it!

TL;DR – training like a powerlifter or weightlifter is not a good idea if you’re a cricket player.

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Effect of Pre-Exercise creatine ingestion on the performance of healthy middle aged men.

Baker et al wanted to look at the acute effects of creatine on a middle aged healthy male population (average age of 54.8).  9 men took part in the trial where they were randomly assigned to one of two conditions taking either a 20g serving of creatine 3 hours before exercise or a placebo.

After taking the creatine or placebo all of the participants then went to do 3 sets to figure both on chest press and leg press utilising 70% of their 1RM.  The study showed no significant difference between creatine or the placebo on total reps performed.

TL;DR – Creatine has no acute affect on muscle performance in middle aged men.

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What kind of training is best for getting faster? 

Rumpf et al performed a review of the training literature to try and establish what category of training best resulted in increases in linear speed.  They looked at three training categories Specific (sprinting), non specific (lifting, plyos etc) and combination (non specific training paired with specific sprint training.

The oinked together 48 studies which amounted to a cohort of 1485 subjects.  From their statistical analysis they concluded that

  • Specific training is the most effective over all distances
  • Non specific training appears to be most useful over distances greater than 30 meters.
  • Combined training appears to be the best for 0-10 meters.

TL;DR – If you want to get fast running in a straight line, run fast in a straight line.

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Muscle size vs Muscle Density for determining strength

52 subjects took part in the study (26 men and 26 women).  During the study they had their body composition determined by DEXA scan (seconal MRI of the body and the gold standard), they also has their muscle cross sectional area and density determined using a technique called pQCT (peripheral quantitative computed tomography to it’s mates).

Knee, ankle and grip strength were all measured as well.  The size of forearm or leg muscle accounted for 69-79% of the variance in measurements whereas muscle density only predicted for 18% of the variance.

These findings show that muscle size not muscle density (as commonly banded around in bro science circles) is the important factor for force production.

TL;DR – if you want to be strong get bigger muscles. 

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