Muscular adaptations to combinations of high- and low-intensity resistance exercises

J Strength Cond Res. 2004 Nov;18(4):730-7. doi: 10.1519/R-13603.1.


Acute and long-term effects of resistance-training regimens with varied combinations of high- and low-intensity exercises were studied. Acute changes in the serum growth hormone (GH) concentration were initially measured after 3 types of regimens for knee extension exercise: a medium intensity (approximately 10 repetition maximum [RM]) short interset rest period (30 s) with progressively decreasing load ("hypertrophy type"); 5 sets of a high-intensity (90% of 1RM) and low-repetition exercise ("strength type"); and a single set of low-intensity and high-repetition exercise added immediately after the strength-type regimen ("combi-type"). Postexercise increases in serum GH concentration showed a significant regimen dependence: hypertrophy-type > combi-type > strength-type (p < 0.05, n = 8). Next, the long-term effects of periodized training protocols with the above regimens on muscular function were investigated. Male subjects (n = 16) were assigned to either hypertrophy/combi (HC) or hypertrophy/ strength (HS) groups and performed leg press and extension exercises twice a week for 10 weeks. During the first 6 weeks, both groups used the hypertrophy-type regimen to gain muscular size. During the subsequent 4 weeks, HC and HS groups performed combi-type and strength-type regimens, respectively. Muscular strength, endurance, and cross sectional area (CSA) were examined after 2, 6, and 10 weeks. After the initial 6 weeks, no significant difference was seen in the percentage changes of all variables between the groups. After the subsequent 4 weeks, however, 1RM of leg press, maximal isokinetic strength, and muscular endurance of leg extension showed significantly (p < 0.05) larger increases in the HC group than in the HS group. In addition, increases in CSA after this period also tended to be larger in the HC group than in the HS group (p = 0.08). The results suggest that a combination of high- and low-intensity regimens is effective for optimizing the strength adaptation of muscle in a periodized training program.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Adult
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Growth Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*


  • Growth Hormone