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Study finds maintaining aerobic capacity requires persistent training while maintaining muscle anaerobic potential does not

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

How long does it take to get back up to peak performance after a long break from exercise? According to one study, that depends on whether the exercise is primarily aerobic or anaerobic.

From the study Enzyme adaptations of human skeletal muscle during bicycle short-sprint training and detraining:

“A long interruption in training has negligible effects on short-sprint ability and muscle anaerobic potential. On the other hand, a persistent training stimulus is required to maintain high aerobic capacity and muscle oxidative potential. This may contribute to a rapid return to competitive fitness for sprinters and power athletes.”

In the study bike sprinters trained for nine weeks followed by seven weeks of detraining (no training). Researchers found that the sprinters’ aerobic enzyme levels fell, while their anaerobic enzyme levels remained high for the seven weeks of detraining.  There were negligible effects on muscle anaerobic potential means the subjects remained strong.

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Study shows how people waste time exercising

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

In a study, one group lifted weights for nine weeks (Continuous resistance training – CRT), while another group lifted for six weeks followed by a three weeks rest (Periodic resistance training - PTR). After the first nine week cycle the groups’ results were similar. The cycle was repeated for nine more weeks, and PTR group’s results were significantly higher.

A quote from the study, Comparison of muscle hypertrophy following 6-month of continuous and periodic strength training:

“Increase in muscle cross-sectional area [of muscle] and strength during the second 3-week detraining/6-week retraining cycle were significantly higher in the PTR group than in the CTR group.”

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What happens after an extended layoff - an observation

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina our clients began trickling back into town, and there was a return to normalcy. They began scheduling appointments again. Most had not exercised in anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks.

I expected them to be weaker. I decided to conduct an experiment. I put them through their previous workout, and I did not lighten the weights. I did not offer them any added encouragement, I did not give them a target to reach, and I told them to stop at whatever point they wanted to.  It was a very interesting result.

Most all of the clients got all of their reps. Some were off a repetition, but that's about it. We were doing slow reps, so one repetition can take about 20 seconds. So in total they were off at most 20 seconds on a 90 to 120 second exercise. Within a workout or two they were totally back up to speed.

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