NSCA Personal Trainer’s Conference 2011 Part 2
April 17 2011
This is the second part of the Review. If you want to read the first part, click here.
Dr. Kerksick is an Assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma in the Health & Physical Education Department. Chad’s Title of the presentation was “Split Training”: A training approach to effectively teach, train and monitor clients”.
Chad was the typical researcher- he had references for everything he said and his slides were just replete with studies. And he spoke with a dry and unemotional tone like a true researcher. He gave an outline about the various resistance training variables like loading, frequency and such and then talked about split routine. His split routine was the typical 2 days lower, 2 days upper body.
The summary was that split routine is an efficient training model since we can use higher volumes, there is more recovery time and it allows people to train at the recommended frequency and intensity. I was waiting for a study ( or studies) which showed greater increase in strength or muscle with a split body routine compared to a full body routine. But he didn’t have one. If the adaptations are similar , why spend one more day in the gym when you can spend 3 days and get the same benefits? I just felt like he didn’t have a compelling conclusion to why someone should do a split routine.
In one of the slides, he showed a study done by Kramer and how it increased serving velocity and jump height by 13 percent, but the results weren’t statistically significant. He talked about how 13% increase is clinically significant thought it may not be statistically significant. This is one of the concepts many people are unaware of. Mark Young, one of my smart friends, talks about his concept in his new “How To Read Fitness Research Product”. If we are using p values, we should do a power analysis to find the minimum samples we need to have a clinically significant result to be statistically significant. This is especially important in the exercise field when we are dealing with very few sample sizes. Unfortunately, not many exercise studies bother to do one.
I asked about power analysis and confidence intervals after the presentation. I also asked him why he thinks in most studies there is a plateau of strength by the 4th or 5th week. He said he has seen the same in his studies too. I also asked him about his view about training to failure. He said he ‘believes’ in going to failure in atleast one your sets. I was looking for a more scientific answer though or any relevant studies. He also talked about the hormone hypothesis which I still think is just an interesting hypothesis lacking causative studies.
Brad is the Associate Editor of the NSCA Strength and Conditioning Journal, an adjunct professor of exercise science, manages a fitness corporation, has a blog (www.workout911.com), and has written a few books. Brad’s presentation title wasThe Functional Fitness Continuum: Training Strategies to Optimize Functional Transfer. Brad lectured for a half an hour and Jay Dawes lead the hands-on session.
This was one of the best presentations at the conference. It is a very relevant topic which is still misunderstood and misinformed even among fitness professionals all over the world. There is rage in the fitness industry to make everything functional these days
People usually say machines are non-functional and hence they have no purpose. Brad showed a study which showed older individuals who used ‘leg extension machine’ to improve their walking and balance considerably. In fact, 2 of the subjects were able to walk without the assistance of the canes. He also showed how free weight training increased functional strength more than machine training. In short, all modalities can elicit functional improvements, and the greatest transfer is seen with free weights.
His next point was unstable training. You will be hard pressed to find a gym where people don’t use bosu balls or unstable surface training. Atleast, I get to see it 60 hours a week! Most of our movements are done on a stable ground so training on an unstable surface is ‘non-functional’. The more unstable the movements lower the loading on the muscles. And lower the loading on muscles, the less the increase in strength, muscle and such. The funny thing was last year in the same conference there was an hour and a half presentation on unstable training. I asked him if there is any benefit of unstable training on propioreception when you are recovering from an injury.
He talked about how single joint exercises are considered non- functional , but can fill the ‘gaps’. For example, only 50% of the hamstrings are involved in squats compared to glutes and quads. Brad also emphasized the importance of fast repetitions in functional training since movements are velocity specific.
I talked with Brad a couple of times during the conference. At the end of the conference, we went and had dinner. We talked a lot about research and the problems in the fitness field. I was really excited to talk to someone who is very knowledgeable in both research and application. I usually don’t get people of this caliber to talk shop and hence speaking with Brad was one of my conference highlights. You will see a lot of people who are evidence-based and such, but there is only a handful of people who are really concerned about the profession and wants to bring some credibility to the field of fitness. Brad is one among them and I felt like we both had a lot of things in common.
There were a few others good ones too. One was by Lee Brown about Speed Training. Lee is an excellent presenter and really brought down the topic so that everyone could understand. Some of the presentations I felt were a bit too heavy on physiology and lacked on the application aspect. Maybe it was the way they presented since most of them were researchers. I also made it a point to network with a lot of trainers at the conference.
Anyway, that’s the end of the review.
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| Mon April 18, 2011
Thanks for the review and kind words, Anoop. It was great chatting with you and exchanging ideas. You are a credit to the field! Let me know if you are going to be at the National Conference in July. Otherwise, hopefully we can talk again soon.
Anoop | Tue April 19, 2011
Thanks for taking the time to comment. I might not sure yet about the conference. It is the time that I go home. Thanks for the reminder though.
| Sun April 24, 2011
Interesting on the splits. Personally, I’ve never seen a reason to deviate from three days a week, total body ... except when, say, my shoulders are a little beat up, in which case I’ll go to a basic upper-lower split, three days a week. And not being a bodybuilder, neither do I see a reason to split so as to amass more volume. Indeed, for me, the rationale behind the split is purely recovery.
Also, like you, I see nothing magical about four days a week. Does it really matter whether you’re eating a particular movement pattern twice a week or, in the case of three days a week, every five days or so ?
Anoop | Sun April 24, 2011
Thanks for the comment.
I think the whole frequency thing is really interesting. It has been shown in beginners that 3 days/ week is better for both muscle and strength in beginners. But once people get advanced/intermediate, things change a bit.
There is always talk about how old time bodybuilders did 3 days/week and look no less bigger than the current natural bodybuilders. Most current bodybuilders hit a body part once a week. I don’t think most people need to hit every angle of the muscle as natural bodybuilders do.
| Sun April 24, 2011
To the point about total-body workouts and beginners, how do you feel about Rippetoe’s STRONG contention that, as I recall, 95% of trainees should consider themselves novices, never truly having tapped their genetic potential, and should be squatting three times a week ?
Though I’ve been training for over a decade, even at my age of 54 I can easily believe I’ve only just scratched the surface in terms of potential. On the other hand, I can hardly conceive of squatting 3 X week. :O
Anoop | Sun April 24, 2011
I think everybody can train 3 times per week. Human body can take a lot of stress. I don’t know what gives first: is it the psychological or physiological aspects? Check that David Goggins video for an example.
Rippetoe’s program is basically a strength-based program. It only worries about strength increase in 3-4 major lifts. It is hard to hit all the muscles with those three exercises if you are more into building muscle. For example, you don’t get too much for hams and calves with squats. You need an incline movement to hit your upper pecs and stuff. Some kind of pulling movement for lats and such. You certainly do get to work on the neurological adaptations with a higher frequency, but what gets traded is the volume of work.
I do lean towards a higher frequency routine if you look at the discussions in the forum. We had a good discussion about frequency in the forums recently.
| Mon May 09, 2011
Great review. I just wanted to mention, and of course I can only speak to what is done in our lab, all intervention studies in our lab are required to have a power analysis performed prior to the study. However, achieving the required n is not always possible, especially without outside funding (NIH, ect).
Another problem is when studying athletes, which is what many coaches want, your n is predetermined. If our baseball team only has 25 players guess what are n is. I’m not suggesting that this is ok, or good as it certainty decreases the quality of the study. I’m just suggesting that many times a power analysis is done, but the study (especially time constrained thesis studies) is carried out even without a proper sample size due to time and practicality.
Sorry for the ramble, just wanted to add a different perspective.
Anoop | Mon May 09, 2011
Thanks for the comment and all good points.
And this is why we should be using confidence intervals in the exercise science field. It is of no value to study something when we know that the results will not be significant when it is expressed in p values. On the other hand if we used confidence intervals, and if the point estimate lies with the confidence intervals (though it is non-significant), we can say the study was not large enough and further trials are required.
| Fri July 08, 2011
” ‘believes’ in going to failure in at least one your sets. I was looking for a more scientific answer though or any relevant studies.”
The question of going to “momentary muscular failure” has always intrigued me. The exact definition is frequently debated. Some of the whimsical comments are “how many reps would you do if you had a gun to your head”.
Much of my past training was in some form of HIT. Failure training had been like mother’s milk until I started going into my later 40’s and then seemed to have developed a lactose intolerance. I am not sure if HIT w/higher loads is a viable long term training strategy.
The importance of training to failure though seems to be showing up in McMaster/Phillips work. They seem to have shown that lifting lower loads to failure stimulates muscle protein synthesis and signaling as well as higher loads. The lower loads to failure may also make the anabolic processes more sensitive to protein feeding for a longer period as well. The control group that used the lower load but not to failure showed little benefit. I believe the authors have said past work that used lower load lifting unsuccessfully was due to the lack of applied intensity of the trainees.
Anoop | Tue July 12, 2011
I read that study. It is just hard to conclude too much with acute studies. But the studies are interesting I agree.