Objectives: Military-, rescue- and law-enforcement personnel require a high physical capacity including muscular strength. The present study hypothesized that 9 weeks of volume matched concurrent short frequent training sessions increases strength more efficiently than less frequent longer training sessions.
Design: A randomized training intervention study with functional and physiological tests before and after the intervention.
Methods: Military conscripts (n=290) were assigned to micro-training (four 15-min strength and four 15-min endurance bouts weekly); classical-training (one 60-min strength and one 60-min endurance training session weekly) or a control-group (two 60-min standard military physical training sessions weekly).
Results: There were no group difference between micro-training and classical-training in measures of strength. Standing long jump remained similar while shotput performance was reduced (P≤0.001) in all three groups. Pull-up performance increased (P≤0.001) in micro-training (7.4±4.6 vs. 8.5±4.0 repetitions, n=59) and classical-training (5.7±4.1 vs. 7.1±4.2 repetitions, n=50). Knee extensor MVC increased (P≤0.01) in all groups (micro-training, n=30, 11.5±8.9%; classical-training, n=24, 8.3±11.5% and control, n=19, 7.5±11.8%) while elbow flexor and hand grip MVC remained similar. Micro-training increased (P≤0.05) type IIa percentage from 32.5±11.0% to 37.6±12.3% (n=20) and control-group increased (P≤0.01) type IIax from 4.4±3.0% to 11.6±7.9% (n=8). In control-group type I, fiber size increased (P≤0.05) from 5121±959μm to 6481±2084μm (n=5). Satellite cell content remained similar in all groups.
Conclusions: Weekly distribution of low-volume concurrent training completed as either eight 15-min bouts or two 60-min sessions of which 50% was strength training did not impact strength gains in a real-world setting.
Keywords: Military; Muscle biopsies; Muscle fiber composition and size; Satellite cells.
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