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The purpose of this investigation was to assess the effectiveness of variable resistance as provided through elastic plus free weight techniques in college aged males and females. Twenty novice lifters were randomly assigned to a traditional free weight only (6 males and 5 females) or elastic band plus free weight group (5 males and 5 females) and 9 more normally active controls (5 males and 4 females), were recruited to maintain normal activity for the duration of the study. No differences existed between control, free weight and elastic band at baseline for age, body height, body mass, body mass index, and body fat percentage. One-repetition maximums were performed for squat and bench press while both strength and power were assessed using isokinetic dynamometry. Elastic groups and free-weight groups completed 24 weeks of whole body, periodized, high intensity resistance (65-95% of one-repetition maximum) training three times/week. Training programs were identical except that the elastic group trained the barbell squat, bench press and stiff-legged deadlift with 20-35% of their total prescribed training loads coming from band resistance (assessed at the top of the range of motion) with the remainder from free weight resistance. A mixed-model analysis revealed that peak torque, average power and one-repetition maximums for squat were significantly greater after training for the elastic group compared to the control (p<0.05). In addition, the free weight group also showed significantly greater improvements over the control in peak torque and one-repetition maximums for squat and bench press. No significant differences were observed between the elastic band and free weight groups. Combined variable elastic band plus free weight exercises are effective at increasing strength and power similar to free-weights alone in novice college aged males and females. However, due to complexity in set-up and load assignment elastic adoption by novice lifters in an unsupervised situation is not advised.

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Shoepe, T., Ramirez, D., Rovetti, R., et al. (2011). The Effects of 24 weeks of Resistance Training with Simultaneous Elastic and Free Weight Loading on Muscular Performance of Novice Lifters. Journal of Human Kinetics, 29, pp. 93-106. doi:10.2478/v10078-011-0043-8

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