Combination training

Goto  et al, is a fascinating read!   “Muscular Adaptations to Combinations of High- and Low-Intensity Resistance Exercises”, (J Strength Cond Res) touches on an issue I often ponder.

If I want to make my endurance athletes stronger, why don’t I  combine  high and low intensity in the same session? Must I spent 12-16 weeks working off season strength, banning “cardio”,  setting them classic low rep (80% plus stuff) then send them off to convert this strength to endurance?

Ive always found this hard,  as most runners and rowers like running and rowing. They often hate  heavy work. But what if I could combine high reps and low reps in the same session, which is, btw,  specifically against perceived wisdom

Goto’s team looked at his  very point. See an abstract here.  They measured  3 types of regimes for knee extension exercise:

  1. a medium intensity (approximately 10 repetition maximum [short interset rest period (30 s) with progressively decreasing load (“hypertrophy type”);
  2. 5 sets of a high-intensity (90% of 1RM) and low-repetition exercise (“strength type”);
  3. and a single set of low-intensity and high-repetition exercise added immediately after the strength-type regimen (“combi-type”)

The combi-type group, added a single set of 25-35 reps following their final low rep set.  At the end of the training program the combi-type group had increased their strength 58% more than did the other training group (14.7% vs. 9.3% respectively). The results suggest that a combination of high- and low-intensity regimens is effective for optimizing the strength adaptation of muscle in a periodized training program.

“This suggests that the combi-type regime caused a larger increase in dynamic muscular strength than did the strength-type regimen when combined with the hypertrophy-type regimen in a periodised fashion… This effect appears to be inconsistent with the classical principle operating in resistance-exercise training, in which low-repetition protocols are used for muscular strength and low-intensity, high-repetition protocols are used for muscular endurance.  Sensible combinations of high- and low-intensity protocols may therefore be more important to optimise the strength adaptation to resistance training.”

The website Training Science suggests the concept of Muscle Factor  Training

” In addition to the low rep training you are already doing, add:

  • one set of 20 reps (range of 17 – 23 reps)
  • one set of 40 reps (range of 35 – 45 reps)”

In practical terms, I think this means,  if you do 3 to 4 sets of say 5 reps ( assume 80% 1 Rep max) in your squat regime,  replace  2 of those low rep sets with 1 set of 20 reps and 1 set of 40 reps.

  • 2 sets x 5reps
  • 1 set x 20 reps
  • 1 set x 40 reps.



{BTW  when doing the lighter sets, its worth while considering Holm L, et al, Changes in muscle size and MHC composition in response to resistance exercise with heavy and light loading intensity, Journal of Applied Physiology, Nov 2008, 105:1454-1461.  The weight lifted in the 40 rep phase can be a light as  15%}

Am I going to suggest this across the board? Hell no. I have clients who hate cardio, and  by hate it,  I mean  they loath it.

I have clients who row. This seems a sensible protocol to test with them.

So, I’m going to unleash this on poor Rochelle on Wednesday. Ill report back if it works

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