Doncaster, G. G., & Twist, C. (2012). Exercise-induced muscle damage from bench press exercise impairs arm cranking endurance performance. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 112. Online publication, April 23, 2012.

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This study analyzed the effects of exercise-induced muscle damage on the physiological, metabolic, and perceptual responses during upper-body arm-cranking exercise. Physically active males (N = 9) performed six minutes of arm-cranking exercise at ventilatory threshold, followed by a time-to-exhaustion trial at a workload corresponding to 80% of the difference between ventilatory threshold and VO2peak, 48 hours after bench pressing exercise (10 6 repetitions at 70% one repetition maximum) or 20 minutes passive sitting (control).

Reductions in isokinetic strength and increased muscle soreness of the elbow flexors and extensors were evident at 24 and 48 hours after the bench-pressing exercise. Despite no change in VO2, VE, heart rate, and blood lactate concentration between conditions, rating of perceived exertion was higher during the six-minute arm-cranking task after the bench-pressing exercise compared to the control condition. Time-to-exhaustion was reduced in the treatment condition as were end VO2 and blood lactate at 0, 5, and 10 minutes after exercise. Rating of perceived exertion during the time-to-exhaustion trial was higher after bench pressing, although end rating of perceived exertion was not different between conditions. This study provides evidence that exercise-induced muscle damage caused by bench-pressing exercise increases the sense of effort during arm-cranking exercise that leads to reduced exercise tolerance.

Implication. Heavy resistance training before a specific sport-training session (e.g., pool work for swimmers, track riding for cyclists), will interfere with the response quality to specific training opportunities at ensuing practices. Since the effects of concerted resistance training last as long as 48 hours, the migratory and long-lasting affects of probably irrelevant-for-competition resistance exercises in the non-sporting environment of a weight room, will compromise the opportunities and abilities of individuals to improve in specific-sport activities. Thus, one should be wary of assuming performance-improving benefits from irrelevant resistance training programs particularly when they are conducted by zealous and demanding trainers. Common implementations of such programs (e.g., in college or university athletic programs) are likely to do more harm than good for athletes' performances.

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