|Lunge with resistant bands as it was done in the study (Jakobsen. 2012)|
Before we start, just a brief reminder for all of you who have not read the SuppVersity EMG series as of now. If you want to know the "best" exercises to target specific muscle groups, I'd suggest you make a detour to all or just those body parts you are interested in by clicking on the respective image in the "navigation" below:
|Navigate the SuppVersity EMG Series - Click on the desired body part to see the optimal exercises.|
Same activation with less load = training economy
That being said, the results of the Jakobsen study do still have their merit. After all, they clearly show that doing explosive or ballistic movements can provide diversion and new growth stimuli especially on those "auxilliary" exercises like lunges. In that, the lower overall weight can even come very handy as it should effectively reduce the risk of injury, which is - let's be honest - a very good argument not to do max. squats in a ballistic fashion, at all.
|Figure 2: Normalized EMG activity during lunges with elastic bands and dumbbells (Jakobsen. 2012)|
"[...] ballistic lunges performed with high speed at medium loadings showed broadly similar EMG amplitudes as that seen during slower controlled speeds with high loading." (Jakobsen. 2012)Furthermore, the "high-speed lunges" obviously took less time and reduced the effective workout time by 23%. Now, while this could be an advantage on days where you have only a very limited time-window to train the researchers argue that this will lead to an overall reduction in time under tension and thus training volume and should - depending on your training goals (my addition) - be compensated by increasing the training volume during power training by ~23 "to achieve the same accumulated time under tension" (e.g. doing 10 instead of just 8 reps per set).
"Wait, there is something else: What about those hilarious resistance bands?"
Actually, the benefits of explosive/ballistic training are yet only one out of two interesting findings of the study at hand, after all it's likewise interesting to see how the use of those often derided resistance bands effected the EMG activity and other training parameters. So let's see, compared to lunges done with isoinertial loading (=dumbbells)...
- lunges with elastic bands showed an overall higher EMG activity, which also resulted in a slightly but significantly higher level of perceived loading on the Borg CR10 scale
- training with resistance bands elicited higher EMG activity in knee and hip extensor muscles (vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, rectus femoris, gluteus maximus) and during the more flexed knee joint positions (i.e., in the reversal phase)
- performing lunges with resistance bands added an non-linear element to the actual resistance, with the "training load" increasing exponentially as the trainees approached the extended knee joint position
- doing lungs with elastic resistance resulted in higher levels of erector spinae and gluteus activity and was more posterior kinetic chain-dominant, which means that they were characterized by higher levels of hamstring, gluteus and erector spinae activity
"[...] creates the need for generating a high net hip extensor moment. In result [...] gluteus, erector spinae and hamstring muscle activity seemed to be elevated in lunges using elastic resistance indicating an effective targeting of the hip and spinal extensor muscles throughout the range of motion." (Jakobsen. 2012)Done the "right" way, lunges with appropriately selected elastic exercise bands (not the ones you get bundled with Kellog's Special K, or whatever ;-) can therefore be a very effective tool for thigh, hip and back development, and can - with more flexible bands - used as "an ideal exercise modality for the rehabilitation and prophylactic prevention of musculoskeletal disorders" (Jakobson. 2012).
10 scientific pieces of evidence to built a case for explosive trainingIf the Jakobsen study ain't enough to convince you to spend at least a couple of minutes thinking about whether or not explosive training or plyometrics (which is basically explosive training with body weight exercises) could make a valuable adjunct to your current training regimen the following 10 studies may put you in the right way:
Bottom line: I guess with the concluding review that obviously raises no claim to completeness it should be clear that the complementation of, yet not (necessarily) the replacement of classic strength & hypertrophy training with plyometrics or explosive lifting with relatively low weight constitutes an effective means to increase the neuronal activation and thus exponentiate subsequent strength and muscle gains.
|The Jack-of-All-Traits Leg Workout from the Sáez de Villarreal study I discussed on July 15, 2012, would also be something you may want to look into if you need some inspiration for your own routine.|
- Buchheit M, Mendez-Villanueva A, Delhomel G, Brughelli M, Ahmaidi S. Improving repeated sprint ability in young elite soccer players: repeated shuttle sprints vs. explosive strength training. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):2715-22.
- Brandenburg JP. The acute effects of prior dynamic resistance exercise using different loads on subsequent upper-body explosive performance in resistance-trained men. J Strength Cond Res. 2005 May;19(2):427-32.
- Caserotti P, Aagaard P, Larsen JB, Puggaard L. Explosive heavy-resistance training in old and very old adults: changes in rapid muscle force, strength and power. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2008 Dec;18(6):773-82.
- Chelly MS, Ghenem MA, Abid K, Hermassi S, Tabka Z, Shephard RJ. Effects of in-season short-term plyometric training program on leg power, jump- and sprint performance of soccer players. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):2670-6.
- Desmedt JE, Godaux E. Ballistic contractions in man: Desmedt JE, Godaux E. Ballistic contractions in man: characteristic recruitment pattern of single motor units of the tibialis anterior muscle. J Physiol. 1977 Jan;264(3):673-93.
- Dodd DJ, Alvar BA. Analysis of acute explosive training modalities to improve lower-body power in baseball players. J Strength Cond Res. 2007 Nov;21(4):1177-82.
- Frost DM, Cronin JB, Newton RU. A comparison of the kinematics, kinetics and muscle activity between pneumatic and free weight resistance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2008 Dec;104(6):937-56.
- Hannah R, Minshull C, Buckthorpe MW, Folland JP. Explosive neuromuscular performance of males versus females. Exp Physiol. 2012 May;97(5):618-29.
- Jakobsen MD, Sundstrup E, Andersen CH, Aagaard P, Andersen LL. Muscle activity during leg strengthening exercise using free weights and elastic resistance: Effects of ballistic vs controlled contractions. Hum Mov Sci. 2012 Dec 8.
- Johnson BA, Salzberg CL, Stevenson DA. A systematic review: plyometric training programs for young children. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Sep;25(9):2623-33.
- Paton CD, Hopkins WG. Combining explosive and high-resistance training improves performance in competitive cyclists. J Strength Cond Res. 2005 Nov;19(4):826-30.
- Sakamoto A, Sinclair PJ. Muscle activations under varying lifting speeds and intensities during bench press. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Mar;112(3):1015-25.
- Tillin NA, Pain MT, Folland JP. Short-term training for explosive strength causes neural and mechanical adaptations. Exp Physiol. 2012 May;97(5):630-41.
- Wilcox J, Larson R, Brochu KM, Faigenbaum AD. Acute explosive-force movements enhance bench-press performance in athletic men. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2006 Sep;1(3):261-9.