Exercise Science and Sport Management

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The influence of baseline strength or muscle size on adaptations to training is not well-understood. Comparisons between novice and advanced lifters, and between stronger and weaker experienced-lifters, have produced conflicting results. This study examined the effect of baseline muscle strength and size on subsequent adaptations in resistance-trained individuals following a traditional high-volume, short-rest resistance training protocol. Fourteen resistance-trained men (24.0±2.7 y; 90.1±11.7 kg; 169.9±29.0 cm) completed pre-training (PRE) ultrasound measurements of muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) in the rectus femoris (RF), vastus lateralis (VL), pectoralis major, and triceps brachii (TRI) prior to strength assessments (e.g., one-repetition maximum strength bench press and back-squat). Post-training (POST) assessments were completed following 8-wks (4 d·wk−1) of resistance training. Comparisons were made between stronger (STR) and weaker (WKR) participants, and between larger (LGR) and smaller (SMR) participants, based upon PRE-muscle strength and size, respectively. When groups were based on upper-body strength, repeated measures analysis of variance indicated a significant group × time interaction where greater improvements in bench press strength were observed in WKR (12.5±8.6%, p = 0.013) compared to STR (1.3±5.4%, p=0.546). Within this comparison, STR also possessed more resistance training experience than WKR (mean difference=3.1 y, p=0.002). No other differences in experience or adaptations to training were observed. These data suggest that following a short-duration training program (8-weeks), baseline size and strength have little impact on performance gains in resistance-trained individuals who possess similar years of experience. However, when training experience is different, baseline strength may affect adaptations.

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International Journal of Exercise Science

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