BFR, Detraining Mass & Strength | Multiple Sets Multiply 'Ur EE | 1- vs. 2-Arm Kettle Bell Swings Rock the Core & More

The # of hands you use to hold your KB while doing swings determines core muscle activity.
With the publication of the latest issue of the The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (May 2016 - Volume 30 - Issue 5 | read it), the time has come to do a training science update with data on the effects on blood flow restriction on strength and size gains during detraining, the energetic demands of single vs. multi-set training, the highly significant core muscle activity patterns with single- vs. two-arm kettlebell swings and a handful of auxilliary studies summarized in the bottom line... Sounds interesting? Well, then I don't want to keep you any longer. Let's see which insights said studies have to offer...
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  • Low intensity blood flow restriction training done during three times per week during 6 weeks of detraining helps maintain mass in in phys. active subjects (Kim. 2016).

    Compared to vigorous cycling at 60–70% of the subjects' individual heart rate reserve [HRR] without BFR, the low-intensity cycling protocol (30% HRR) with BFR (160–180 mm Hg) Kim et al. prescribed to their subjects, thirty-one healthy college-aged males (22.4 ± 3.0 years, range: 19–30 years), actually increased the leg lean mass of the subjects over time.
    Table 1: Strength and body composition data - *LI-BFR = low-intensity cycling with BFR; CON = control; BFLBM = bone-free lean body mass; ES = effect size; VI = vigorousintensity (Kim. 2016)
    The strength development in both groups was identical, though. This and the fact that cycling is not exactly what you should do to maintain strength and size (learn more about detraining) are yet things you have to keep in mind, before freaking out about how "awesome" BFR is.
  • Study unsurprisingly confirms the superior energy requirements of multiple- vs. single-set workouts - Difference is larger than 100%, in young men and women (Mookerjee. 2016).

    In their study, the researchers from the Universities of Pennsylvania and Cumberlands, as well as the College of New Jersey compare energy expenditure (EE) of single-set and multiple-set resistance exercise protocols using indirect calorimetry.
    Table 2: Loads (kg) used for each exercise presented by gender and combined data (Mookerjee. 2016).
    Twelve men and twelve women (age = 21.4 ± 1.3 years) performed a single-set (SS) and multiple-set (MS) resistance exercise protocol in random order. The subjects performed two protocols at 70% of their 1-repetition maximum. The protocols consisted of 5 upper-body exercises of either 1 or 3 sets per exercise performed in random order. Metabolic and cardiorespiratory data were recorded over the entire exercise session and during 5 minutes of recovery by a portable metabolic measurement system.
    Figure 1: Gross and net (left), as well as relative (per lbm) EE in kcal during SS (single set) and MS (multiple set) training in male and female study participants (Mookerjee. 2016).
    As you can see in Figure 1, the gross (167.9 ± 58.7 kcal) and net (88.3 ± 41.6 kcal) EE for the MS protocol were significantly greater (p < 0.001) than gross (71.3 ± 26.5 kcal) and net (36.3 ± 18.7 kcal) EE of the SS protocol. Conversely, there was no significant difference in the rate of EE between both protocols. Heart rate, respiratory rate, relative V[Combining Dot Above]O2, respiratory exchange ratio, and minute ventilation values were significantly higher during the MS than the SS protocol.

    As it was to be expected, a significant gender difference (p < 0.001) in absolute and relative EE was observed for both protocols where values in men were higher than women. 
  • Doing kettle bell swings with one vs. two arms induces a greater neuromuscular activity for the contralateral side of the upper erector spinae and ipsilateral side of the rectus abdominis, and lower activation of the opposite side of the respective muscles (Anderson. 2016).

    The aim of the study of this study from Norway was to compare the electromyographic activity of rectus abdominis, oblique external, and lower and upper erector spinae at both sides of the truncus in 1-armed and 2-armed kettlebell swing. To this ends, the researchers had sixteen healthy men perform 10 repetitions of both exercises using a 16-kg kettlebell in randomized order.
    Figure 2: Comparison of the EMG activity of the core muscles 1- vs. 2-armed kettle bell swings in sixteen healthy men (age, 25 ± 6 years; body mass, 80 ± 8 kg; stature, 180 ± 7 cm) with 7 ± 7 years of resistance training experience (Anderson. 2016)
    As the data in Figure 2 reveals, For the upper erector spinae, the activation of the contralateral side during 1-armed swing was 24% greater than that of the ipsilateral side during 1-armed swing (p < 0.001) and 11% greater during 2-armed swing (p = 0.026). Furthermore, the activation in 2-armed swing was 12–16% greater than for the ipsilateral side in 1-armed swing (p < 0.001). For rectus abdominis, however, 42% lower activation of the contralateral side was observed during 1-armed swing compared with ipsilateral sides during 2-armed swing (p = 0.038) and 48% compared with the ipsilateral side during 1-armed swing (p = 0.044). Comparing the different phases of the swing, most differences in the upper erector spinae were found in the lower parts of the movement, whereas for the rectus abdominis, the differences were found during the hip extension. In contrast, similar muscle activity in the lower erector spinae and external oblique between the different conditions was observed (p = 0.055–0.969). In conclusion, performing the kettlebell swing with 1 arm resulted in greater neuromuscular activity for the contralateral side of the upper erector spinae and ipsilateral side of the rectus abdominis, and lower activation of the opposite side of the respective muscles.
Normalized electromyography (EMG) amplitude values (mean 6 SD) for the straight and hexagonal barbells, collapsed across 65 and 85% 1 repetition maximum loads (Camara. 2016) |  ++ significant advantage of regular bar; + significant advantage of hexagnoal bar.
What else have we got? Well, there are Trexel's previously discussed popular creatine vs. caffeine study discussed in July 2015 (read more) and Ohya's 400- and 800-m track running study showing that even trained females' performance suffers from inspiratory muscle fatigue after short-duration running exercise, suggesting that "[c]oaches could consider prescribing inspiratory muscle training or warm-up in an effort to reduce the inevitable IMF associated with maximal effort running" (Ohya. 2016).

Furthermore, Camara's previously (only in the Facebook news) discussed study showing differences in the muscle activity pattens (data see Figure on the right) and significantly greater peak force, peak power, and peak velocity for deadlifts with hexoganal vs. regular bars, and, last but not least has now been officially published.

Last, but not least, Beyer's study showing that 4 weeks of unilateral strength training results in "an increase in strength and size of the trained musculature, and cross education of strength in the untrained musculature, which may occur without detectable changes in muscle size, activation, or the acute hormonal response" (Beyer. 2016) as well as two studies I will discuss in detail, next week, should not be forgotten either | Comment on Facebook!.
  • Andersen, V, Fimland, MS, Gunnarskog, A, Jungård, G-A, Slåttland, R-A, Vraalsen, ØF, and Saeterbakken, AH. Core muscle activation in one-armed and two-armed kettlebell swing. J Strength Cond Res 30(5): 1196–1204, 2016
  • Camara, KD, Coburn, JW, Dunnick, DD, Brown, LE, Galpin, AJ, and Costa, PB. An examination of muscle activation and power characteristics while performing the deadlift exercise with straight and hexagonal barbells. J Strength Cond Res 30(5): 1183–1188, 2016
  • Kim, D, Singh, H, Loenneke, JP, Thiebaud, RS, Fahs, CA, Rossow, LM, Young, K, Seo, D-i, Bemben, DA, and Bemben, MG. Comparative effects of vigorous-intensity and low-intensity blood flow restricted cycle training and detraining on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic capacity. J Strength Cond Res 30(5): 1453–1461, 2016
  • Mookerjee, S, Welikonich, MJ, and Ratamess, NA. Comparison of energy expenditure during single-set vs. multiple-set resistance exercise. J Strength Cond Res 30(5): 1447–1452, 2016
  • Ohya, T, Yamanaka, R, Hagiwara, M, Oriishi, M, and Suzuki, Y. The 400- and 800-m track running induces inspiratory muscle fatigue in trained female middle-distance runners. J Strength Cond Res 30(5): 1433–1437, 2016.
  • Trexler, ET, Smith-Ryan, AE, Roelofs, EJ, Hirsch, KR, Persky, AM, and Mock, MG. Effects of coffee and caffeine anhydrous intake during creatine loading. J Strength Cond Res 30(5): 1438–1446, 2016
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