Gym-based primer sessions 1-2 days before a game: Do they work?
A Performance Digest Snippet
- The Objective
- What the researchers did
- What the researchers found
- Practical Takeaways
- Author’s comments
- About the author
It has been suggested that a resistance training (RT) session performed 24 – 48 hours (h) before a competition/game or a high-quality training session may enhance athletic performance. However, there is limited evidence regarding the effects of resistance training on subsequent explosive muscle performance.
Hence, the purpose of this study was to investigate whether a low-volume, power-type RT session enhances the neuromuscular performance of the legs in the following 24 – 48 h.
What the researchers did
17 national-level male power- and team-sport athletes took part in 4 different sessions (2 experimental and 2 control). Subjects were first familiarised and then tested for baseline measures on one-repetition maximum (1RM) half squat (90° knee angle), countermovement jump (CMJ), drop jump (DJ) (a measure of reactive strength index (RSI)), isometric maximum force (leg press 90-100° knee angle), and rate of force development from the isometric leg press at 0-100, 0-200, and 0-300 milliseconds (ms).
After the baseline tests, the experimental group performed a warm-up of 1 x 6 @ 15 % 1RM and 1 x 4 @ 30 % 1RM jump squats. Once warm, subjects performed 5 x 4 jump squats with 40 % 1RM (approx. 65 kg) with a 90-100° knee angle. Explosive performance was measured 24 or 48 h after the intervention for each group. The control group also had explosive performance measured at 24 or 48 h but with no intervention.
What the researchers found
CMJ in the 24 h condition was greater than baseline (5.1 ± 1.0 %) as well as in the 48 h condition (3.0 ± 0.7 %) in the experimental trial, while there was no difference in the control trials. RSI in the 24 h condition was greater than baseline (10.7 ± 2.1 %), while scores in the 48 h condition were not statistically different.
No significant interactions were found between conditions or time to maximum isometric force. However, the rate of force development (RFD) 0-100, 200, and 300 ms were significantly greater in the 24 h condition compared to baseline (18.3 ± 4.1 %; 10.2 ± 3.3 %; 9.7 ± 3.4 %, respectively). Only RFD 0-100 ms was greater than baseline in the 48 h condition (9.8 ± 3.1 %).
This paper shows that a low-volume, power-type resistance training session results in moderate to large improvements in explosive performance 1 and 2 days later. In particular, CMJ, RSI, and RFD all experience significant improvements, however, no improvements in peak force were observed. The improvement in explosive exercises, but not peak force, could be due to the exercises performed in the intervention. Hence, 24 – 48 h enhancements may be velocity specific, where the jump squat closely mimics the CMJ and DJ.
Based on this study, the use of the jump squat can be used as a “primer” 1 or 2 days out from the competition to enhance neuromuscular performance. Other velocity-based movements could also potentially be used to enhance performance, such as sprinting or varying medicine ball throws. Since subsequent performance seems to be velocity-specific, strength-based “primers” may be useful for sports that require high forces rather than high velocities; an example may be working up to a 90 % 1RM squat or bench press.
“This performance enhancement effect lasted up to 48 h in this study. However, performance enhancements can be seen in as little as 4-6 h after training. This provides a large window where a “primer” could be used before competition and may depend on the individual athlete as to how they respond. Performance enhancements seem to be dependent on the exercises chosen during the “primer”, so for velocity -based improvements, select velocitybased exercises. In contrast, for forcespecific improvements, choose forcebased exercises.
A tip taken from Nic Gill (New Zealand All Blacks S&C Coach) at a conference in New Zealand, is that primers should always remain the same from week-toweek as you don’t want to create unnecessary muscle soreness each week.”
This Performance Digest snippet was taken from issue #23 Sept 2018, available for members.
- Tsoukos A, Veligekas P, Brown LE, Terzis G, Bogdanis GC, Delayed Effects of a Low-Volume, Power-Type Resistance Exercise Session on Explosive Performance 2018. Journal of Strength and Conditioning research, 32(3), pp 643-650 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28291764#