That is the conclusion of a study by professors in Trondheim.
Eight untrained and moderately trained men participated in the study which lasted eight weeks. The study focused on participant’s leg muscles. The men conducted so-called “maximum strength training” on one leg, and traditional strength training on the other, with just as much work on each leg. This way, the professors could compare the effect of the different training types.
In this study, traditional strength training was defined as weight lifting with 8-12 repetitions. This is equivalent to using 60-70 percent of your maximum strength in one repetition. In maximal strength training, you should spend more than 85 percent of your strength in one repetition. Furthermore, you should not do more than five repetitions and five sets per exercise, with a three-minute rest between each set.
Previous studies on traditional strength training do exist, and one has concluded that it is an effective training method for increasing the strength of moderately trained individuals. However, professor Jan Hoff and his research colleagues believed it was important to compare it with other training methods.
“We conducted the study because we previously proved that maximal strength training with few repetitions and maximum mobilisation is especially effective in order to become stronger, faster and more economical in your training, without developing large muscles,” Hoff says.
Despite previous studies, the professors reached a surprising result:
You can get twice as much out of your workout with maximum strength training than from traditional strength training.
After eight weeks, the participants showed a clear improvement on several points, both by traditional strength training and by maximum strength training. However, heavier weights and few repetitions had the most notable effect; increased efficiency in the participant’s workout, their overall strength and their power.
“Maximum strength training was almost twice as effective as traditional strength training in developing both strength, speed and work economy. With a better work economy you need less energy to perform the same job, for example running. Maximum strength increased participant’s strength by about 50 percent during the eight weeks – without the muscle increasing in size,” Hoff explains.
Hoff has studied endurance training for many years and during this time he has collaborated with several top athletes. He now works at the Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, in addition to being an advisor for physical training to a number of sports stars and teams.
“ Everybody uses this type of strength training,” Hoff says.
“Amongst other things, it is the most effective treatment for osteoporosis and for COPD patients. It is also an effective way to increase speed and agility, which could be a big advantage for football players. When work economy improves, endurance improves as well, both in football and in other endurance sports. Therefore, we recommend this type of training to all the players and teams we advise. This type of training is used by players in top teams like Barcelona, Manchester United, Celtic, Hertha Berlin and several Norwegian teams,” he continues.
In other words: If you want quick results and an effective workout, the answer is maximal strength training. Hoff says this kind of workout is important to perform, not only for those aiming high in sports, but also in everyday life.
However, Hoff points out one thing:
“For the best results, weight lifting must be combined with endurance training.”