Short-Term Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Body Composition and Strength in Middle-Aged Women

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Benton, MJ, Kasper, MJ, Raab, SA, Waggener, GT, and Swan, PD. Short-term effects of resistance training frequency on body composition and strength in middle-aged women. J Strength Cond Res 25(11): 3142–3149, 2011—Although a dose–response relationship between resistance training frequency and strength has been identified, there is limited research regarding the association between frequency and body composition. This study evaluated the effects of 3 vs. 4 d·wk−1 of resistance training on body composition and strength in middle-aged women. Twenty-one untrained women (age 47.6 ± 1.2 years) completed 8 weeks of resistance training either 3 nonconsecutive days of the week using a traditional total-body protocol (RT3) or 4 consecutive days of the week using an alternating split-training protocol (RT4). The RT3 completed 3 sets of 8 exercises, whereas RT4 completed 3 sets of 6 upper body exercises or 6 sets of 3 lower body exercises. Both groups completed 72 sets per week of 8–12 repetitions at 50–80% 1 repetition maximum. Weekly training volume load was calculated as the total number of repetitions × load (kg) completed per week. Body composition was measured using air displacement plethysmography. At baseline and after 8 weeks of resistance training, there were no significant between-group differences. Both protocols resulted in significant increases in absolute lean mass (1.1 ± 0.3 kg; p = 0.001), body weight (1.02 ± 0.3 kg; p = 0.005), body mass index (0.3 ± 0.1 kg·m−2; p = 0.006), strength (p < 0.001), and weekly training volume load (p < 0.001). Correlation analysis revealed that weekly training volume load was strongly and positively related to gains in lean mass (r = 0.56, p = 0.05) and strength (r = 0.60, p = 0.006). In these untrained, middle-aged women, initial short-term gains in lean mass and strength were not influenced by training frequency when the number of training sets per week was equated.

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