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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Graves 1988.

Strength maintained for many weeks after reducing training frequency

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Graves JE, Pollock ML, Leggett SH, Braith RW, Carpenter DM, Bishop LE. Effect of reduced training frequency on muscular strength. Int J Sports Med. 1988 Oct;9(5):316–9. PubMed #3246465.
Tags: exercise, self-treatment, treatment

PainSci summary of Graves 1988?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

Graves et al studied 50 men and women accustomed to strength training and tested them on 12 weeks of reduced training frequency, going from 2 or 3 days per week to 0, 1 or 2 days per week. Those reduced to zero lost strength as expected (about 70% over the 12 weeks), but for those who merely reduced their frequency? No loss at all: “Strength values for subjects who reduced training to 2 and 1 days/week were not significantly different … . These data suggest that muscular strength can be maintained for up to 12 weeks with reduced training frequency.”

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstractAbstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Twenty-four men and 26 women (25±5 years) participating in 10 weeks (n = 27) and 18 weeks (n = 23) of variable resistance strength training programs were recruited to complete 12 weeks of reduced training. Training consisted of one set of 7-10 bilateral knee extensions performed to volitional failure. Prior to the reduced training phase of the project, the subjects were training either 2 days·week-1 (n = 23) or 3 days·week-1 (n = 18). The subjects who trained 3 days·week-1 reduced training frequency to 2 days·week-1 (n = 9), 1 day·week-1 (n = 7), or 0 days·week-1 (n = 2). The subjects who trained 2 days·week-1 reduced training frequency to 1 day·week-1 (n = 12) or 0 days·week-1 (n = 11). Nine subjects served as controls and did not train. Isometric knee extension strength was assessed at 9, 20, 35, 50, 65, 80, 95, and 110 degrees of knee flexion on two separate occasions prior to and immediately post-training and following reduced training. After training, mean relative increases in peak isometric knee extension strength and dynamic training weight were 21.4%±17.5% (P < 0.01) and 49.5%±14.7% (P < 0.01), respectively. The subjects who stopped training (0 days·week-1) lost 68% (P < 0.01) of the isometric strength gained during training. Strength values for subjects who reduced training to 2 and 1 days·week-1 were not significantly different (P> 0.05) from post-training strength values. These data suggest that muscular strength can be maintained for up to 12 weeks with reduced training frequency.

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These two articles on PainScience.com cite Graves 1988 as a source:


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