Saturday, August 12, 2023

Variable vs. Conventional Resistance Training: A Review

Resistance training is a cornerstone of fitness, with various methodologies and techniques being explored to maximize muscle growth. One such method, variable resistance training, has been touted for its potential benefits. But how does it stack up against conventional resistance training? Let's delve into a recent systematic review to find out.

Understanding Variable Resistance Training

Variable resistance training is a technique that adjusts the resistance during an exercise to match the muscle's ability to exert force. This means that as the muscle's strength varies throughout a movement, the resistance changes accordingly. This can be achieved using tools like bands, chains, flywheels, and more.

Methodology of the Review

The researchers conducted a comprehensive literature search in July 2023 using databases like PubMed, Web of Science, Cochrane, and Scopus. They used various search terms related to variable resistance and muscle hypertrophy. Only studies that directly measured muscle growth and compared variable resistance training to conventional methods were included. Measurements were taken using tools like tape measures, ultrasound, DXA, MRI, and bioimpedance meters.

Findings of the Study

Out of 528 articles found, only 12 met the strict inclusion criteria. The analysis of these studies revealed that both variable resistance training and conventional resistance training produced similar improvements in muscle mass. There were no significant differences between the two methods.

Conclusions and Implications

The systematic review concluded that, over a short to medium period and with untrained subjects, variable resistance training does not offer superior muscle growth benefits compared to conventional training. However, it's important to note that this conclusion is based on short-term studies with untrained individuals. Further research is needed to compare the two methods over longer periods and with more experienced trainees.

Source: Fuentes-García, M.A., Malchrowicz-Mośko, E. & Castañeda-Babarro, A. (2023). Effects of variable resistance training versus conventional resistance training on muscle hypertrophy: a systematic review. Sport Sci Health.