Figures 1–3 depict the acute
responses to each exercise protocol. In Figure 1, the mean
seen during BR was significantly greater than the SQ, lunge, and DL protocols. In addition, SQ
was significantly higher than the lunge. No differences were observed between the DL and lunge. In Figure 2, the mean
observed during the HP was significantly greater than the BP and curl. No differences were observed between the BP, curl, and BOR. In Figure 3, the mean
observed during the burpee was significantly greater than the PU, BOSU PU, PU-LC, and plank. The mean
observed during the PU-LC was significantly greater than the PU, BOSU PU, and plank. No differences were observed between the PU and BOSU PU. The mean
observed for the plank was significantly lower than all other exercises. For all exercises in Figures 1–3 with the exception of the plank, the responses seen during R1 were significantly larger than the set or R2.
Acute exercise performance data are presented in Table 5. For the free-weight and BR protocols, repetition performance was maintained across all 3 sets for most exercises with the exception of set 3 for the BP and curl that were both significantly reduced compared with the first set. Although total BR repetitions per set did not differ over 3 sets, there were significant differences (p < 0.001) for individual exercises within each set. Significantly more repetitions per set were completed for the single-arm alternating wave (23.1 ± 4.4) than the double-arm wave with half-SQ (18.3 ± 3.6) and double-arm slam with half-SQ (13.0 ± 1.7) exercises. For all exercises, set duration was similar across all 3 sets with the exception of HP where set 3 was significantly shorter than set 1. The duration of each set between exercises ranged from ∼14 seconds for the bent-over row and HP to ∼37 seconds for the SQ but these differences between exercises did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.12).
This study provided a comprehensive comparison of a total of 13 exercises including 7 free-weight, 5 body-weight, and 1 BR circuit of exercises. For free-weight exercises, the largest acute metabolic responses were seen in the large muscle-mass exercises, that is, SQ, DL, and lunge. Lower metabolic responses were seen in the BP, curl, and bent-over row. Interestingly, the BR protocol produced the largest acute metabolic response of all exercises tested, and the plank provided the lowest acute metabolic response. The burpee, another popular total-body exercise, produced the second largest mean
response, and this response was significantly larger than all of the free-weight exercises. Finally, performing PUs on the floor vs. on a BOSU ball yielded similar metabolic responses. However, the metabolic response increased by 39% when a lateral crawl was added to the PU.
For free-weight exercises, the largest acute metabolic responses were seen in the SQ, DL, and lunge. These data support previous studies indicating that the acute
and EE responses are higher during large muscle-mass exercises than smaller muscle-mass exercises (1,13,19,20,26,27,29). In particular, lower-body exercises have elicited the greatest acute
responses. The SQ has been shown to elicit greater acute metabolic responses than the BP (1,19,20,26,27), curl (1,20), overhead press (1,13), lat pull-down (19), upright row (1), and bent-over row (19). Bloomer (2) examined the SQ (13 sets of an average of ∼7 repetitions with 70% of 1RM with 90–120 seconds of rest in between sets) and reported a mean
response of 20.2 ml·kg−1·min−1, which was similar to data reported in this study. The DL has been shown to elicit greater metabolic responses than the row, BP, shoulder press, and lat pull-down (19). The leg extension has been shown to elicit higher acute
than the chest press and shoulder press (14). In addition, the leg press has been shown to elicit nearly double the acute
response than the chest fly (6). Thus, the results of this study extend these findings and also demonstrate that the alternating lunge is another lower-body exercise that yields a relatively large metabolic response.
Large muscle-mass–resistance exercise can elicit substantial elevations in
especially when coupled with short RIs or as part of circuit training (18,26,33). Several studies have reported mean protocol
values in the range of 18–25 ml·kg−1·min−1 (1,2,18,33). In this study, our large muscle-mass free-weight exercises elicited mean
responses of ∼17.3–19.6 ml·kg−1·min−1 despite only 3 sets performed and use of 2-minute RIs. Peak
values ranged from ∼28.7 to 32.5 ml·kg−1·min−1. Mean values elicited values ∼36–40% of
that are within reported ranges of 20–58% of
seen during various protocols (1,14,26,29,33). Large muscle-mass exercises have elicited EE values of ∼8–11.5 kcal·min−1 vs. ∼5.0–7.3 kcal·min−1 in smaller mass exercises (1,14,24,26,29,33). In this study, our small mass free-weight exercises yielded ∼5.1–6.0 kcal·min−1 and the larger mass exercises yielded ∼7.2–8.2 kcal·min−1, which were similar to previous reports (19) but lower than some studies (1,29,33) presumably because of the low volume and 2-minute RIs used.
Another finding in this study was the similar metabolic responses between several of the smaller mass resistance exercises. We reported similar mean
responses between the BP, curl, and bent-over row exercises, that is, 12.2–12.5 ml·kg−1·min−1. Ballor et al. (1) and McArdle and Foglia (20) reported similar
responses in the BP and curl. However, the bent-over row response was surprising given its muscle mass involvement. Ballor et al. (1) showed higher values during the bent-over row at various repetition speeds than either the BP or curl. One possible explanation for the discrepancy could be subjects performed the bent-over row with greater ease than the BP and curl in this study. For example, every subject completed all 10 repetitions per set for the bent-over row. However, subjects reached momentary muscular failure in both the BP and curl, and repetitions performed for both exercises during set 3 were significantly less than set 1. Farinatti et al. (7) reported that the acute metabolic response of the BP was significantly higher in women when it was performed third in sequence (in a semi-fatigued state after the triceps extension and shoulder press) compared with when it was performed first in sequence. Thus, the greater fatigue associated with the BP and curl could have increased metabolic demand as repetitions became slower (as evidenced by linear position transducer data not presented), and a nonsignificant increase in set duration was observed. Another possibility is the use of free weights for the bent-over row. Ballor et al. (1) used hydraulic resistance exercise for the row that could increase the force requirements throughout the full range of motion, whereas a free weight may be accelerated early in motion thereby reducing tension at the end of the range of motion. One other possibility is that the exercise range of motion of the bent-over row may be slightly less than the BP or curl particularly because the torso is maintained slightly above a parallel position to the floor and the bar is lifted until it contacts the upper rectus abdominis. Thus, it is possible that technical and kinetic factors involved with the free-weight bent-over row may have lessened the metabolic response but this warrants further investigation.
The acute VE and HR responses tended to parallel
data. The values reported in this study were comparable to a range of values observed in the literature. Several studies have reported VE values of 16–69 L·min−1 during resistance exercise with higher values seen during large muscle-mass exercises and when short RIs are used (1,2,14,20,24,26). We reported a range of values from ∼32 to 53 L·min−1 for all of the free-weight exercises. These values were similar to other studies examining the BP and SQ for 3–5 sets using 2-minute RIs (24,26). In addition, average HR values per exercise protocol ranged from 114 to 136 b·min−1 for the free-weight exercises in this study. Values were higher in the large muscle-mass exercises. The values for the large muscle-mass exercises were similar to those reported in some studies (15,20) but were less than other studies (1,2,26,32) presumably because of differences in volume, intensity, RI lengths, and the type of resistance used (i.e., free weight vs. hydraulic machines). These findings extend the current literature base and demonstrate exercise-specific VE and HR responses to a variety of resistance exercises.
The exercise that produced the largest acute metabolic response was the BR circuit (∼51% of
). Battling rope protocols have increased in popularity in recent years and have been included in many types of metabolic training programs targeting muscle strength, endurance, and cardiovascular conditioning (3,21). Battling ropes are used for multiple purposes, that is, climbing, pulling, and suspension training. However, BRs are most commonly used for wave training (3,21). The size (length, weight, and diameter) of the ropes, as well as the velocity and amplitude of the waves and muscle mass involvement, are thought to govern the intensity of the exercises (21). However, few scientific data are available examining the efficacy of BRs. Fountaine and Schmidt (8) examined a 10-minute protocol where double-arm waves were performed for 15 seconds followed by a 45-second RI for 10 sets altogether and reported average HR of 163 b·min−1, peak
of 40.2 ml·kg−1·min−1, and total EE of 622 kJ. In this study, we reported a peak
of 38.6 ± 4.7 ml·kg−1·min−1 and mean HR of 153.5 ± 13.9 b·min−1 despite performing fewer sets, using a short circuit of 3 exercises instead of 1, and using a longer RI in between sets. Thus, based on limited research, it seems BR circuits pose a significant metabolic and cardiovascular stimulus although further research is warranted examining other exercises in addition to single-arm alternating and double-arm waves.
The second largest metabolic response was observed during the body-weight burpee exercise (∼47% of
). The burpee is a callisthenic-type exercise that stresses most major muscle groups. The variation used in this study involves SQs, SQ thrusts, a PU, and a jump-in-place combined into 1 exercise (other variations of the exercise have differences particularly for the PU and jump components). The burpee was created more than 80 years ago as a way of assessing coordination, strength, and agility fitness in soldiers and has been used as a conditioning exercise ever since. Our data show that the burpee provides a potent metabolic stimulus larger than that observed during several moderate-intensity free-weight exercises.
The results of this study showed that performing a PU on the floor and on a BOSU ball resulted in similar metabolic demands. Little is known about the performance of PUs on a BOSU ball. A recent study showed that training with PUs on a BOSU ball provided no advantage to performing PUs on the floor (4). Studies examining exercises performed on BOSU balls have generally shown reduced force output because of the instability (28). In addition, EMG activity has been shown to be similar in most muscles tested between exercises on BOSU balls compared with the floor (28). Using resistance-trained individuals, Wahl and Behm (31) reported that the moderate instability of BOSU balls did not result in greater muscle activation compared with performing exercises on the floor, whereas wobble boards and stability balls did increase stabilizer muscle activity. The authors suggested that trained individuals may already possess sufficient stability and a less-stable surface than a BOSU ball may be needed to challenge the neuromuscular system (31). Thus, it may be hypothesized that BOSU balls were not sufficient to augment muscle activation during the PU in our group of trained individuals, which could explain the lack of difference seen in the metabolic responses. However, adding a lateral crawl to the PU increased the acute metabolic demand significantly despite performing half of the full-range repetitions to account for the added time needed for the lateral motion. The additional activation of muscle mass of the trunk and lower body during the lateral crawl may have led to the increased metabolic response.
The lowest metabolic and HR responses were seen during the plank exercise. This was not surprising because the plank is predominantly an isometric exercise. Isometric exercises have been shown to elicit lower metabolic and HR responses compared with dynamic exercises (5,20). McArdle and Foglia (20) reported isometric sets of the BP, SQ, overhead press, and curl elicited approximately half of the
responses of their dynamic counterparts. Although the plank exercise is commonly used in training programs targeting increased trunk muscle strength and endurance, our data demonstrate that it is less metabolically challenging.
In summary, the BR protocol used in this study elicited the largest acute metabolic and HR responses compared with all exercises tested and the plank elicited the lowest acute metabolic response. The body-weight burpee exercise protocol elicited the second largest mean
response. For the free-weight exercises, the largest acute metabolic responses were seen in the large muscle-mass exercises, that is, SQ, DL, and lunge, and similar but lower metabolic responses were seen in the BP, curl, and bent-over row. Finally, performing PUs on the floor vs. on a BOSU ball yielded similar metabolic responses. However, the metabolic response increased when a lateral crawl was added to the PU. These data provide useful program design–related information to the practitioner regarding metabolic responses of several different resistance exercises.
Weight loss and/or body fat reductions are goals associated with resistance training. Body fat reductions are predicated, in part, on acute EE during each training session and the additional EE seen during the recovery period (EPOC) after the training sessions. The selection of resistance exercises, in addition to the appropriate prescription of intensity, volume, and RI lengths, which augment EE, is critical to targeting body fat reductions and muscle endurance enhancement. The results of this study indicate that free-weight exercises that stress large muscle mass such as the SQ, DL, and lunge yield high acute mean EE (7.2–8.2 kcal·min−1) when 3 sets of 10 repetitions with 75% of 1RM are used with 2-minute RIs. Interestingly, lower-intensity exercises such as the burpee (performed using body weight as a resistance) and a BR circuit elicited a greater acute metabolic response, eliciting 9.6–10.3 kcal·min−1 of EE. These results support the inclusion of large muscle-mass exercises whether they use free weights, body weight, or implements such as ropes for resistance and can provide coaches and practitioners with useful metabolic data that can assist in training program design.
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Keywords:Copyright © 2015 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.
VO2; free weights; resistance training; oxygen consumption