The effects of exercise modality during additional ‘high-intensity interval training’ upon aerobic fitness and strength in powerlifting and strongman athletes

Powerlifters and strongman athletes have a necessity for optimal levels of muscular strength whilst maintaining sufficient aerobic capacity to perform and recover between events. HIIT has been popularized for its efficacy in improving both aerobic fitness and strength but never assessed within the aforementioned population group.
The present study looked to compare the effect of exercise modality, e.g. a traditional aerobic mode (AM), and strength mode, (SM), during HIIT upon 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 VO2max using the YMCA 3 minute step test and strength as predicted 1RM 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 (ES) for aerobic fitness and strength were considered large for each group (aerobic fitness, AM = 2.6, SM = 2.0; strength, AM = 1.9, SM = 1.8). 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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