Improved Functional Power Over a 5-Week Period: Comparison of Combined Weight Training to Flexible Barbell Training

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Caterisano, A, Hutchison, R, Parker, C, James, S, and Opskar, S. Improved functional power over a 5-week period: Comparison of combined weight training with flexible barbell training. J Strength Cond Res 32(8): 2109–2115, 2018—Previous studies demonstrated increased power development with various resistance-training modes over short training periods of 4–7 weeks through neuromuscular adaptations. The purpose of this study was to compare 2 different power-training regimens over a 5-week period: combined weight training program (CT) using speed-lifts and plyometrics vs. flexible barbell (FB) training. College football players (n = 28) were randomly assigned to either FB or CT training groups. The CT group followed a combined weight training program using 45–65% of 1 repetition maximum, and the FB group used an FB with a fixed mass of 56.82 kg for all lifts. Both groups performed similar lifts 4 days per week in a split routine, alternating muscle groups. Subjects were tested before and after the training period by the vertical jump (VJ), long jump, medicine ball (MB) throw, and Margaria-Kalamen stair power test. Pre- to post-tests, both groups experienced significant increases in VJ (CT: 57.9 ± 8.9 to 64.5 ± 7.9 cm, FB: 68.1 ± 6.9 to 74.9 ± 6.6 cm) and MB (CT: 513.3 ± 69.3 to 594.9 ± 78.2 cm, FB: 510.0 ± 41.4 to 613.9 ± 52.6 cm) that were not significantly different between training modes. Long jump improved significantly only in FB (248.4 ± 23.1 to 254.3 ± 24.6 cm) and not in CT. The Margaria-Kalamen stair power test result improved in both groups but FB improved at a significantly higher level than CT (CT: 40.6 ± 2.3 to 44.3 ± 2.2 W, FB: 41.0 ± 1.7 to 48.8 ± 1.8 W). The results suggest that both FB and CT training improved power over a 5-week training period, but that FB training may be more effective than CT in lower-body power development.

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