'Autoregulatory Progressive Resistance Exercise' Improves on Results of Standard Progressive Training, According to New Research in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning

Newswise — A strength training technique called autoregulatory progressive resistance exercise (APRE)—in which athletes increase strength by progressing at their own pace—provides better results than standard techniques in which resistance is steadily increased, reports a study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning, official research journal of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health, a leading provider of information and business intelligence for students, professionals, and institutions in medicine, nursing, allied health, and pharmacy.

"For the strength coach or practitioner who must demonstrate the greatest strength and strength-endurance gains during short-duration training cycles, APRE training is effective," according to the new study by J. Bryan Mann, M.Ed., C.S.C.S., and colleagues of University of Missouri, Columbia. Compared to Traditional Strength Training, APRE Yields Big ResultsIn the study, 23 division I collegiate football players were randomly assigned to two different six-week strength training programs. One group performed traditional "linear periodization" (LP) training, in which resistance (weight) is gradually added week by week.

The other group received the APRE approach, in which athletes "increase strength by progressing at their own pace, based on daily and weekly variations in performance," Mann and co-authors explain. "Because individuals increase strength or respond to training stimuli at different rates, it is possible that use of autoregulation may maximize the amount of strength gained over a training cycle."

After six weeks, athletes assigned to APRE had greater improvements in strength than the LP group. Maximal (one repetition) bench press strength increased by an average of 93 pounds in the APRE group, compared to little or no change in the LP group. Maximal squat strength improved by 193 pounds with APRE, compared to 37 pounds with LP.

The APRE group also had greater improvement in bench press endurance. The number of times they were able to bench press a load of 225 pounds increased by three repetitions on average, compared to little or no change with LP.

For competitive athletes seeking to increase strength, periodization produces greater strength gain. In the traditional LP approach, this is done by gradual, steady increases in weight. APRE offers an alternative approach, allowing athletes to increase strength at their own pace by catering to their individual strength or performance on a daily basis. It's not yet clear how APRE works to enhance the results of strength training, compared to traditional LP. "However, it could be that the greater strength gains resulting from APRE were because of a constant adjustment of repetitions," Mann and co-authors write. Experts have suggested that the body may begin to adapt to a constant training protocol followed over a period of weeks to months, leading to reduced effectiveness.

The researchers note that their results apply to highly-trained collegiate athletes under the supervision of certified strength and conditioning professionals. They conclude, "We believe the findings...are intriguing enough to warrant future evaluations of the benefits of APRE in competitive athletes."

About The Journal of Strength and Conditioning ResearchThe editorial mission of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR) is to advance the knowledge about strength and conditioning through research. A unique aspect of this journal is that it includes recommendations for the practical use of research findings. While the journal name identifies strength and conditioning as separate entities, strength is considered a part of conditioning. The journal wishes to promote the publication of peer-reviewed manuscripts which add to our understanding of conditioning and sport through applied exercise science. The JSCR is the official research journal of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

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