Strength training has been shown to reduce muscular dystrophy (weakness and loss of muscle mass), increase power output, improve bone health, and improve mood. It seems logical that you should make an attempt to increase the amount you lift in each training session, however some recently discovered information has shown that lifting more or heavier may not be the answer.
A study led by Dr. Harry Dorrell at the University of Lincoln found that after a training period of six weeks, athletes became stronger, despite lifting less weight per session. This study was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Sixteen men between the ages of 18 and 29 with at least two years of weight-training experience participated in this study. They were divided into two groups: the first group used the traditional one rep (exercise repetition) max, and the other used a load velocity profile. The load velocity profile recorded the amount of time it took to lift a weight, and then increased or decreased the amount of weight depending on how the athlete was feeling.
Dr. Harry Dorrell told SciTech Daily, “There are a lot of factors which can contribute to an athletes’ performance on a particular day, such as how much sleep they have had, nutrition, or motivational factors, but with traditional percentage-based methods we would have no insight into how this affects their strength.”
“The velocity-based training enabled us to see if they were up or down on their normal performance and thus adjust the load accordingly,” continued Dorrell. “It’s about making sure the athlete is lifting the optimal load for them, on that particular day. If you lift too little then you won’t stimulate the body as you intend to; but if you lift too much you’ll be fatigued, which increases the risk of injury.”
The training lasted for six weeks with two sessions per week. The amount of weight lifted during a back squat, the bench press, the strict overhead press, and a conventional deadlift was recorded at the beginning and end of the training period. Researchers found that the velocity group was able to lift more at the end of the trail, despite their training loads being less than that.
The velocity-based training group was able to lift 15 kg more on the back squat, eight kg more on the bench press, four kg more on the overhead press, and two kg more for the deadlift. This is despite the fact that their loads were two to nine per cent less per session during training.
Dr. Dorrell added that “while some of these changes could be considered as only ‘small improvements’ and were similar to the group using the traditional training method, the velocity group lifted significantly less in order to see the gains they made. The idea of velocity based training has been around for a while, but until now there hasn’t been any science to prove that it actually works; the science has finally caught up.”
If this is something you want to implement into your workout, there are commercially available devices, such as the Speed 4 Lifts tool, which can help you do so. If strength training is not your area of interest, you can try cardio, high intensity interval training (HIIT), or endurance training. From my experience, even a few minutes a day can make a difference over time in your mood and ability to function.