Hitting it After Weights - Nothing but Benefits? Not Exactly, but Systemically Impaired Strength & Size Gains are a Myth
|Has your cardio-addiction held you back in the past? That does not mean that a short HIIT training after an RT workout will do the same, does it?|
Based upon previous studies utilizing low-intensity cycling as well as acute studies investigating molecular pathways it was hypothesized that high-intensity interval cycling performed immediately after resistance training would not hinder muscle strength and hypertrophy but would negatively affect the rate of force development. So, no effect on muscle but on strength gains.
The subjects, twenty-two male university students (age 21.8 0.6 years, body height 177.4 1.5 cm, body mass 74.2 2.1 kg, estimated VO2peak on a cycle ergometer 38.2 0.9 ml/kg/min) who had not been involved in systematic training (resistance or endurance) for at least 6 months before the initiation of the study but participated in recreational activities such as basketball, soccer, and jogging, 2–3 h per week, were assigned into two experimental groups according to their initial 1-RM leg press strength:
"One group of participants (RE, n = 11) performed resistance training only and the other group (REC, n = 11) performed the same resistance training but each session was followed by high-intensity interval cycling. [...] Training was performed two times per week for 8 weeks. Warm-up was the same for both training groups and included 5-min cycling at 50–75 W, lower body muscle stretching and 2 sets 9 - 10 repetitions of three exercises for the trunk (abdominal crunches, lateral crunches, dorsal raises) aiming to strengthen the lumbar spine area for injury prevention. The inclined leg press (45° angle) and the half-squat (knee angle 90°) Smith machine were used for the strength training of the lower extremities. The RE group performed four sets of 6-RM for each exercise (Zaras et al., 2014; approximately 85% of 1-RM: 220 14 kg and 127 +/- 7 kg in leg press and in halfsquat, respectively). In the first week, the training load was set at 80% of 6-RM (176 +/- 11 kg and 102 +/- 6 kg in leg press and half-squat, respectively). Thereafter, the resistance training load was set at 6-RM and it was increased by 2.0–2.5% in every training session so as to maintain at 6-RM until the last week of training intervention" (Tsitkanou. 2016).Unlike the previously described resistance training protocol with rest periods of 3 minutes and between sets and 5 minutes between exercises, HIIT cycling was performed only by the subjects in the REC group. 10 minutes after the completion of the resistance exercises, the participants performed 10 sets of 60-s duration on a stationary bicycle with 100% of maximal aerobic power and 55–60 revolutions/min. The cycling workload was being increased (~2%) in every training session. The passive recovery between sets was static and amounted to 60 s.
|Figure 1: Δ Physical performance (%) before and after the training period; *: p < 0.05, §: p < 0.001 (Tsitkanou. 2016).|
compared to RE," the authors argue and are probably right: it is very unlikely that those 50kcal would have a sign. effect on the lean mass and/or strength gains.
What the data in Figure 1 does tell you, however, is that there was a non-significant effect of the training type; albeit with a practically hardly relevant "advantage" for either of the workout protocols. If anything you may argue that the increase in maximal aerobic power of the subjects in the REC group, though it's likewise not statistically significant compared to the RE group, provides evidence of potentially relevant training benefits that would be confirmed by the significant improvements in heart rate at four submaximal workloads you can see in Figure 2.
|Figure 2: Heart Rate at four submaximal workloads before and after 8 weeks of resistance training only (RE, a), and resistance plus aerobic training (REC, b). *P < 0.05, difference before and after 8-week training period (Tsitkanou. 2016).|
Since the type of training didn't affect the fiber composition of the subjects, either (both groups seeing similar increases in Type IIA and IIX - without sign. inter-group differences), the study at does indeed confirmed the authors' research hypothesis: "[H]igh-intensity interval cycling performed immediately after lower body resistance training did not inhibit muscle hypertrophy induced by chronic resistance training, in moderately trained individuals" (Tsitkanou. 2016). In fact, the additional increase in muscle capillarization and previously discussed beneficial effects on conditioning would even argue in favor of doing HIIT after every workout if...
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- Tsitkanou, S., et al. "Effects of high‐intensity interval cycling performed after resistance training on muscle strength and hypertrophy." Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports (2016).
- Zaras, Nikolaos D., et al. "Rate of force development, muscle architecture, and performance in young competitive track and field throwers." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 30.1 (2016): 81-92.