The acute physiological effects of strongman training

Woulfe-Felix, Colm
Harris, Nigel
Keogh, Justin
Wood, Matt
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Master of Sport and Exercise
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Auckland University of Technology

Strongman training has become an increasingly popular modality used by practitioners for athletic development and general strength and conditioning, but data on physiological responses is limited. This thesis sought to quantify and compare a range of physiological responses to a strongman training session compared to a typical general strength training session. Ten healthy males (23.6±7.5 years; 85.8±10.3 kg) with a minimum of two years of strength training experience, and a squat and deadlift strength of at least 1 and 1.2 times body mass respectively acted as their own control in a crossover design. Participants performed a strongman training session (ST), a strength/hypertrophy (RST) training session, and a resting session with seven days between each session. The ST consisted of sled drag, farmers walk, one arm dumbbell clean and press and tyre flip at loads eliciting approximately 30 seconds of effort per set. The RST consisted of squat, deadlift, bench press and power clean, performed with 75% of predicted one repetition maximum. Sessions were equated for approximate total and per set duration. Participants completed both sessions with a facemask on, attached to an oxygen analyser unit (Metalyzer 3BTM, CortexTM, Germany). Analyses were conducted to determine differences in physiological responses within and between the two different protocols with significance set at p ≤ 0.025 for lactate and testosterone and p ≤ 0.0125 for heart rate, caloric expenditure and substrate utilisation. Lactate and salivary testosterone were recorded immediately pre and post training sessions. Heart rate, caloric expenditure and substrate utilisation (fat and carbohydrate) were measured throughout the resting session, both training protocols and for 80 minutes post training sessions (STrecov and RSTrecov). No significant changes in testosterone occurred at any time point for either session. Lactate increased significantly immediately post both sessions (Pre ST 1.57 mmol/L, Post ST 7.53 mmol/L, Pre RST 2.01 mmol/L, Post RST 8.53 mmol/L). Heart rate, caloric expenditure and carbohydrate expenditure were all elevated significantly during ST and RST. Heart rate was significantly elevated compared to resting (67 bpm) in STrecov (96 bpm) and RSTrecov (99 bpm); calorie and carbohydrate expenditure were not. Fat was significantly elevated only during RSTrecov. These results indicate that when equated by training duration, ST represents an equivalent physiological stimulus on key parameters indicative of potential training induced adaptive responses to that produced by whole body RST. Such adaptations could conceivably include cardiovascular conditioning.

strongman , resistance
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