Resistance Training Intensity Is Usually Measured By The, Chapter 2 Flashcards

Common estimates of external training intensity for resistance exercise do not incorporate inter-set recovery duration, and might not reflect the overall demands of training. This study aimed to assess novel metrics of exercise density (ED) during resistance exercise, and how these related to a physiological marker of internal training intensity as well as traditional measures of external training intensity and volume. Thirteen males and seven females performed two bouts of resistance exercise focused on developing strength (5 sets of 5 repetitions with 5-repetition maximum; 180 s recovery) and hypertrophy (3 sets of 10 repetitions with 10-repetition maximum; 60 s recovery). Blood lactate concentration was measured to quantify internal training intensity. Specific metrics of external volume (mechanical work, volume load and total repetitions) and intensity (average weight lifted and ED) were calculated. Despite lower average weights and no difference in mechanical work or volume load, blood lactate was greater following hypertrophy compared with the strength condition. This finding was consistent with higher measures of ED in the hypertrophy compared with the strength condition. Greater ED during hypertrophy resistance exercise, along with the significant association with changes in blood lactate, indicates that ED metrics are reflective of the sessional intensity for resistance exercise.

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Excessive training intensity or volume can result in chronic exercise stress, particularly if coupled with additional stressors such as increased training frequency or regular travel1,2,3,4. Under such circumstances, athletes can experience a decline in the quality of subsequent training bouts or sports performance1, 5. If the training stress is not attenuated, these athletes can experience suppression of the immune system, decreased muscle glycogen storage, chronic muscle damage, neuroendocrine fluctuations and a disrupted psychological state1,2,3,4. Careful monitoring of the training dose is essential to ensuring an athlete can perform at their highest level. Monitoring training intensity and training load (the product of intensity and volume) for endurance6, 7 and team sport8, 9 athletes has received considerable attention. However, strategies to quantify resistance training, a common component of most athletes’ training programs, have not been extensively explored10. This is surprising, considering that lifting the same relative weight for equivalent total volume, yet manipulating acute variables (e.g. recovery periods, repetition velocity and lifting tempo), can produce a vastly different training stimulus10.

To date, calculating the mechanical work completed during a resistance training session is the most valid method for quantifying external resistance training volume11. However, this process is time-consuming and requires specialized equipment, limiting its practical application12. Alternatively, metrics such as the repetition method (providing total repetitions) and volume load (VL) are used to quantify training volume, though these methods are also inherently limited. The repetition method involves the summation of repetitions performed during a training session or cycle12 and while easy to implement and interpret, this system fails to account for weight lifted during each repetition. Instead, VL is determined by the product of repetitions performed and the mass lifted to provide an absolute value in kilograms (sometimes termed tonnage)11, 13, and can provide an estimate of the mechanical work completed during resistance training as well as the associated physiological stress11, 14. However, an individual training at 70% of 1 repetition maximum (RM) will have an identical VL whether that session is performed for 10 sets of 3 repetitions or 3 sets of 10 repetitions, despite experiencing a vastly different physiological stimulus10. Therefore, additional metrics are necessary to differentiate the overall intensity of training bouts.

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The intensity of resistance training is often represented as the weight lifted relative to an individual’s maximal strength for a single repetition of that exercise (i.e. 70% of 1-repetition maximum <1 RM>)15. While this is a simple assessment for the intensity of an individual repetition, it does not adequately describe the intensity of a training session when considering manipulation of additional acute exercise variables. Alternatively, the Training Intensity (TI) metric developed by Stone et al.13 quantifies the intensity of a training session by calculating the average weight lifted throughout a session from the division of VL by the total repetitions performed. Although these methods indicate the intensity of the weight lifted for a single repetition and a series of repetitions, respectively, the ‘true intensity’ of a training session is far more complex involving both mechanical (external) and metabolic (internal) work16. The ‘true intensity’ of an exercise session is affected by varying session designs (sets and repetitions)16, the load lifted17, 18, inter-set recovery durations19, 20 and repetition velocity20. To illustrate, recovery duration influences muscle force production21, 22 and hormonal responses23. Shorter inter-set recovery durations during resistance exercise are also associated with elevations in the blood lactate concentration24 while longer periods of recovery result in greater passive metabolite clearance25.

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It is likely that the sessional intensity of resistance training is a cumulative measure that is reliant on the interplay between the volume, intensity and recovery associated with each individual set. However, to the authors’ knowledge there is no objective method of quantifying sessional resistance training intensity that accounts for the influence of varied inter-set rest periods13, 26. Given the outlined limitations with common metrics of external training volume and intensity, we sought to create an objective metric to quantify sessional training intensity. We expanded on the term “density” described by Bompa et al.27 to create novel metrics of “exercise density” (ED) derived from the division of mechanical work and VL by sessional recovery time measured in seconds. Through the use of two distinctively different, yet work and volume matched resistance training protocols, we sought to examine whether the novel metrics were; 1) able to differentiate between these protocols, and 2) provide an estimate of sessional intensity as measured by change in blood lactate concentration, a commonly used measure of glycolytic metabolism and exercise demand24. We hypothesized that although traditional strength training is performed using higher intensities for each repetition (i.e. 85–95% of 1 RM), traditional hypertrophy training would result in a greater sessional intensity and that this finding would be supported by the novel ED metrics and changes in blood lactate.


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