|Bad news for lone wolfs.|
Just like the subjects in a recent study from the University of California Los Angeles, I suppose. All of them were member of the Exquinox Fitness Club, 30–44 years of age, and had a history of exercising 5–7 days per month at the club over the previous 3 month - archetypical average ambitious Gymrats, so to say.
After randomly selecting 40 men who met the above criteria, Thomas W. Storer and colleagues randomly assigned the subjects to either
- a nonlinear periodized training program (TRAINED, N=17), or to
- a self-directed training (SELF, N= 17)
"The templates for the supervised training regimen were developed by senior EFC staff and guidance
from outside experts including exercise physiologists, physical therapists, certified PTrs, and athletic trainers.[...] The training regimen consisted of a 3-cycle, nonlinear program in which acute program variables including exercise selection, volume, and intensity were varied over both the 4-week mesocycles and within the weekly microcycles."The volume or intensities of each training session were categorized as high (H), moderate (M), or low (L) and applied on a given day during the course of each week of training. That's in stark contrast to the SELF group, the members of which had to log their workouts, but were otherwise totally free to train whatever they thought fit for the compulsory training goal "maximize lean mass!"
|Figure 1: Changes in weight, lean body and fat mass, as well as body fat % (left) and corresponding rel. (%) changes in chest press, leg press, leg peak and average power (Storer. 2014)|
Let's not forget the exercise selection! Eventually, the way the trainers picked the optimal exercises for their clients may have been as important as the periodization; and the procedure is intriguing: "[T]he xercise selection for each subjects’ training program was based in part on use of a screening method that highlighted fundamental movement patterns that could be performed without compensation and movements that were dysfunctional; these were subsequently addressed by corrective exercise during the course of the 12 weeks" (Storer. 2014). In other words, the trainees performed only exercises they could master... much in contrast to 90% of the trainees I see squat and deadlift hilarious weights on their self-designed routines at my local gym.What's interesting, though, is the fact that all of them made progress - at first that sounds great, but without the comparison to the TRAINED group the guys would never have realized that they could have reduced their body fat % twice as much in the same 12 weeks, if they had had a trainer to plan their routines and kick their asses.
|Figure 2: The lean body mass (LBM) gains in the self-directed training group did not gain any muscle on average. One guy even lost ~4kg of lean mass in 12 weeks - in spite of being told to train for maximal hypertrophy (Storer. 2014)|
Although I can only speculate about the reason for his misery, I suspect he was overtraining. Doing more instead of less, when the gains he was expecting as a reward didn't come.
- Storer, Thomas W.; Dolezal, Brett A.; Berenc, Matthew N.; Timmins, John E.; Cooper, Christopher B. "Effect of Supervised, Periodized Exercise Training vs. Self-Directed Training on Lean Body Mass and Other Fitness Variables in Health Club Members." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2014). Ahead of Print.