Effects of Exercise Modality During Additional “High-Intensity Interval Training” on Aerobic Fitness and Strength in Powerlifting and Strongman Athletes

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Androulakis-Korakakis, P, Langdown, L, Lewis, A, Fisher, JP, Gentil, P, Paoli, A, and Steele, J. Effects of exercise modality during additional “high-intensity interval training” on aerobic fitness and strength in powerlifting and strongman athletes. J Strength Cond Res 32(2): 450–457, 2018—Powerlifters and strongman athletes have a necessity for optimal levels of muscular strength while maintaining sufficient aerobic capacity to perform and recover between events. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been popularized for its efficacy in improving both aerobic fitness and strength but never assessed within the aforementioned population group. This study looked to compare the effect of exercise modality, e.g., a traditional aerobic mode (AM) and strength mode (SM), during HIIT on aerobic fitness and strength. Sixteen well resistance-trained male participants, currently competing in powerlifting and strongman events, completed 8 weeks of approximately effort- and volume-matched HIIT in 2 groups: AM (cycling, n = 8) and SM (resistance training, n = 8). Aerobic fitness was measured as predicted V[Combining Dot Above]O2max using the YMCA 3 minutes step test and strength as predicted 1 repetition maximum from a 4–6RM test using a leg extension. Both groups showed significant improvements in both strength and aerobic fitness. There was a significant between-group difference for aerobic fitness improvements favoring the AM group (p ≤ 0.05). There was no between-group difference for change in strength. Magnitude of change using within-group effect size for aerobic fitness and strength was considered large for each group (aerobic fitness, AM = 2.6, SM = 2.0; strength, AM = 1.9, SM = 1.9). In conclusion, our results support enhanced strength and aerobic fitness irrespective of exercise modality (e.g., traditional aerobic and resistance training). However, powerlifters and strongman athletes wishing to enhance their aerobic fitness should consider HIIT using an aerobic HIIT mode.

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