The Effects of Moderate- Versus High-Load Resistance Training on Muscle Growth, Body Composition, and Performance in Collegiate Women
Cholewa, JM, Rossi, FE, MacDonald, C, Hewins, A, Gallo, S, Micenski, A, Norton, L, and Campbell, BI. The effects of moderate- versus high-load resistance training on muscle growth, body composition, and performance in collegiate women. J Strength Cond Res 32(6): 1511–1524, 2018—Twenty young women (20.3 + 1.5 years, 164 + 6 cm, 68.7 + 13.8 kg) without prior structured resistance training experience were recruited for this study. Body composition (BodPod), compartmental water (Bioelectrical Impedance), 7-site skinfold, and arm and thigh cross-sectional area (CSA) were assessed before and after 8-week training. Performance testing consisted of vertical jump, 3-kg chest pass initial velocity, squat 1RM, and overhead press 1RM. After 2 weeks of familiarization training, subjects were matched for body composition and relative squat strength and randomly assigned to either a high-load (HL: n = 10; 4 sets of 5–7 repetitions) or moderate-load (ML: n = 10; 2 sets of 10–14 repetitions) group that completed 6–7 exercises per day performed to momentary muscular failure. Training was divided into 2 lower and one upper body training sessions per week performed on nonconsecutive days for 8 weeks. There were no statistically significant main effects for group or group × time interactions for any variable assessed. Both HL and ML resulted in similar significant increases in lean body mass (1.5 ± 0.83 kg), lean dry mass (1.32 ± 0.62 kg), thigh CSA (6.6 ± 5.6 cm2), vertical jump (2.9 ± 3.2 cm), chest pass velocity (0.334 ± 1.67 m·s−1), back squat one repetition maximum (1RM) (22.5 ± 8.1 kg), and overhead press (3.0 ± 0.8 kg). High-load group and ML group also both resulted in significant decreases in percent body fat (1.3 ± 1.3%), total body water (0.73 ± 0.70 L), and intracellular water (0.43 ± 0.38 L). The results of this study indicate that both moderate-load and high-load training are effective at improving muscle growth, body composition, strength and power in untrained young women.