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A Comparison of the Effects of 6 Weeks of Traditional Resistance Training, Plyometric Training, and Complex Training on Measures of Strength and Anthropometrics

MacDonald, Christopher J; Lamont, Hugh S; Garner, John C

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: February 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 2 - p 422-431
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318220df79
Original Research

MacDonald, CJ, Lamont, HS, and Garner, JC. A comparison of the effects of six weeks of traditional resistance training, plyometric training, and complex training on measures of strength and anthropometrics. J Strength Cond Res 26(2): 422–431, 2012—Complex training (CT; alternating between heavy and lighter load resistance exercises with similar movement patterns within an exercise session) is a form of training that may potentially bring about a state of postactivation potentiation, resulting in increased dynamic power (P max) and rate of force development during the lighter load exercise. Such a method may be more effective than either modality, independently for developing strength. The purpose of this research was to compare the effects of resistance training (RT), plyometric training (PT), and CT on lower body strength and anthropometrics. Thirty recreationally trained college-aged men were trained using 1 of 3 methods: resistance, plyometric, or complex twice weekly for 6 weeks. The participants were tested pre, mid, and post to assess back squat strength, Romanian dead lift (RDL) strength, standing calf raise (SCR) strength, quadriceps girth, triceps surae girth, body mass, and body fat percentage. Diet was not controlled during this study. Statistical measures revealed a significant increase for squat strength (p = 0.000), RDL strength (p = 0.000), and SCR strength (p = 0.000) for all groups pre to post, with no differences between groups. There was also a main effect for time for girth measures of the quadriceps muscle group (p = 0.001), the triceps surae muscle group (p = 0.001), and body mass (p = 0.001; post hoc revealed no significant difference). There were main effects for time and group × time interactions for fat-free mass % (RT: p = 0.031; PT: p = 0.000). The results suggest that CT mirrors benefits seen with traditional RT or PT. Moreover, CT revealed no decrement in strength and anthropometric values and appears to be a viable training modality.

1Department of Kinesiology, Leisure, and Sport Sciences, Center of Excellence for Sport Science and Coach Education, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee; and 2Department of Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi

Address correspondence to Christopher J. MacDonald,

Copyright © 2012 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.