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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effects of higher- and lower-load resistance exercise training on leg and arm skeletal muscle mass in healthy young adult females : a randomized equivalence trial Fliss, Matthew David


Resistance exercise training (RET) is potent stimulus to induce muscle growth. Heavier loads are traditionally more effective compared to lighter loads for inducing muscle growth, but recent research has demonstrated that lighter load (LL) RET can lead to similar muscle hypertrophy as higher load (HL) RET when training to volitional fatigue. While these results have been consistently shown in males, there is limited research on this topic using female participants. The aim of this study was to compare the muscle hypertrophic response to HL and LL RET in the upper and lower body of young adult females. It was hypothesized that there would be an equivalent increase between the HL and LL RET in both the upper and lower body. A randomized repeated measures within-participant design was utilized where each participant had one arm and leg assigned to train with HL and the other limbs assigned to train with LL. Participants trained thrice weekly for 10-weeks, performing unilateral knee extension and unilateral dumbbell bicep preacher curls. Biceps brachii thickness increased following both LL and HL RET (∆LL = 0.3±0.4 cm, ∆HL = 0.2±0.4 cm, Interaction P = 0.12), but upper arm lean mass only increased following LL RET (∆LL = 0.1±0.2 kg, ∆HL = 0.04±0.2 kg, Interaction P = 0.02). Neither HL nor LL RET induced an increase in any measure of lower body muscle size. LL RET induced a greater training volume compared to HL RET in the arms due to similar absolute loads used during training. In the lower body, training volume must be considered as neither loading condition reached the necessary total training volume required to induce measurable muscle growth.

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