Variable resistance training promotes greater strength and power adaptations than traditional resistance training in elite youth rugby league players
National Strength and Conditioning Association
Center for Exercise and Sport Science Research
The purpose of this study was to examine the strength, velocity, and power adaptations in youth rugby league players in response to a variable resistance training (VRT) or traditional free-weight resistance training (TRAD) intervention. Sixteen elite youth players were assigned to a VRT or TRAD group and completed 2 weekly upper- and lower-body strength and power sessions for 6 weeks. Training programs were identical except that the VRT group trained the bench press exercise with 20% of the prescribed load coming from elastic bands. Bench press 1 repetition maximum (1RM) and bench press mean velocity and power at 35, 45, 65, 75, and 85% of 1RM were measured before and after the training intervention, and the magnitude of the changes was determined using effect sizes (ESs). The VRT group experienced larger increases in both absolute (ES = 0.46 vs. 0.20) and relative (ES = 0.41 vs. 0.19) bench press 1RM. Similar results were observed for mean velocity as well as both absolute and relative mean power at 35, 45, 65, 75, and 85% of 1RM. Furthermore, both groups experienced large gains in both velocity and power in the heavier loads but small improvements in the lighter loads. The improvements in both velocity and power against the heavier loads were larger for the VRT group, whereas smaller differences existed between the 2 groups in the lighter loads. Variable resistance training using elastic bands may offer a greater training stimulus than traditional free-weight resistance training to improve upper-body strength, velocity, and power in elite youth rugby league players.