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September 2022

Resistance Training Volume Does Not Influence Lean Mass Preservation during Energy Restriction in Trained Males

Authors: Christian Roth 1, Schwiete Carsten 1, Kevin Happ 1, Lukas Rettenmaier 1, Brad J. Schoenfeld 2, Michael Behringer 1

Affiliations:

  1. Department of Sports Medicine and Exercise Physiology, Institute of Sport Sciences, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany
  2. Department of Health Sciences, CUNY Lehman College, Bronx, NY, USA

Journal: Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports - September 2022, Online Ahead of Print (DOI: 10.1111/sms.14237)

This study investigated the effects of a relatively high- versus moderate-volume resistance training program on changes in lean mass during caloric restriction.

38 resistance-trained males were randomized to perform either a high-volume (HVG; 5 sets/exercise) or a moderate-volume (MVG; 3 sets/exercise) resistance training program. Both groups were supervised during lower body training. Participants consumed 30 kcal/kg for 6 weeks after 1 week of weight maintenance (45 kcal/kg), with protein intake fixed at 2.8 g/kg fat-free-mass. Muscle thickness of the m. rectus femoris, body composition, contractile properties, stiffness, mood and sleep status were assessed at pre-, mid- and post-study.

No significant group × time interaction was observed for muscle thickness of the m. rectus femoris at 50% (∆ [post-pre] 0.36 ± 0.93 mm vs. ∆ -0.01 ± 1.59 mm; p = 0.226) and 75% length (∆ -0.32 ± 1.12 mm vs. ∆ 0.08 ± 1.14 mm; p = 0.151), contractility, sleep, and mood in the HVG and MVG, respectively. Body mass (HVG: ∆ -1.69 ± 1.12 kg vs. MVG: ∆ -1.76 ± 1.76 kg) and lean mass (∆ -0.51 ± 2.30 kg vs. ∆ -0.92 ± 1.59 kg) decreased significantly in both groups (p = 0.022), with no between-group difference detected (p = 0.966).

High-volume resistance training appears to have neither an advantage nor disadvantage over moderate-volume resistance training in terms of maintaining lean mass or muscle thickness. Given that both groups increased volume load and maintained muscle contractility, sleep quality, and mood, either moderate or higher training volumes conceivably can be employed by resistance-trained individuals to preserve muscle during periods of moderate caloric restriction.

 

Keywords: caloric restriction, dieting, fat-free mass, contractile property, mood, sleep

High-volume resistance training (20 sets/week for the quadriceps) appears to neither be advantageous nor disadvantageous to preserving muscle thickness of the m. rectus femoris when compared to moderate-volume resistance training (12 sets/week for the quadriceps) in a resistance-trained population over 6 weeks of modest caloric restriction. However, given that both groups continuously increased training loads over time, resistance training volume, expressed in total tonnage, steadily increased and possibly contributed to the muscle thickness preservation seen across groups. Since this study lacked a third group that did not increase resistance training volume over time, further research is required to test this hypothesis.

From a whole-body perspective, both groups significantly lost lean mass over time, although absolute losses in this outcome were modest and within the margin of error of the measurement. While it is conceivable that high-volume resistance training has a different impact on the whole-body level than on a given individual muscle, the lack of upper body training volume progression over time as well as the unsupervised upper body training in this study need to be considered as a reasonable alternative theory to explain the differences between findings at the single muscle versus whole-body level. Given that both groups increased training loads and maintained muscle contractility, sleep quality, and mood, either moderate or higher training volumes conceivably can be employed by young, resistance-trained men to preserve muscleduring periods of moderate caloric restriction. Considering the null effects between conditions, employing moderate volumes would be a more time-efficient approach in this population.

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