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      Effects of Strength Training on the Physiological Determinants of Middle- and Long-Distance Running Performance: A Systematic Review

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          Abstract

          Background

          Middle- and long-distance running performance is constrained by several important aerobic and anaerobic parameters. The efficacy of strength training (ST) for distance runners has received considerable attention in the literature. However, to date, the results of these studies have not been fully synthesized in a review on the topic.

          Objectives

          This systematic review aimed to provide a comprehensive critical commentary on the current literature that has examined the effects of ST modalities on the physiological determinants and performance of middle- and long-distance runners, and offer recommendations for best practice.

          Methods

          Electronic databases were searched using a variety of key words relating to ST exercise and distance running. This search was supplemented with citation tracking. To be eligible for inclusion, a study was required to meet the following criteria: participants were middle- or long-distance runners with ≥ 6 months experience, a ST intervention (heavy resistance training, explosive resistance training, or plyometric training) lasting ≥ 4 weeks was applied, a running only control group was used, data on one or more physiological variables was reported. Two independent assessors deemed that 24 studies fully met the criteria for inclusion. Methodological rigor was assessed for each study using the PEDro scale.

          Results

          PEDro scores revealed internal validity of 4, 5, or 6 for the studies reviewed. Running economy (RE) was measured in 20 of the studies and generally showed improvements (2–8%) compared to a control group, although this was not always the case. Time trial (TT) performance (1.5–10 km) and anaerobic speed qualities also tended to improve following ST. Other parameters [maximal oxygen uptake ( \documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \usepackage{upgreek} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document}$$\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{{2{ \hbox{max} }}}$$\end{document} ), velocity at \documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \usepackage{upgreek} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document}$$\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{{2{ \hbox{max} }}}$$\end{document} , blood lactate, body composition] were typically unaffected by ST.

          Conclusion

          Whilst there was good evidence that ST improves RE, TT, and sprint performance, this was not a consistent finding across all works that were reviewed. Several important methodological differences and limitations are highlighted, which may explain the discrepancies in findings and should be considered in future investigations in this area. Importantly for the distance runner, measures relating to body composition are not negatively impacted by a ST intervention. The addition of two to three ST sessions per week, which include a variety of ST modalities are likely to provide benefits to the performance of middle- and long-distance runners.

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          Most cited references217

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          Skeletal muscle hypertrophy and atrophy signaling pathways.

          Skeletal muscle hypertrophy is defined as an increase in muscle mass, which in the adult animal comes as a result of an increase in the size, as opposed to the number, of pre-existing skeletal muscle fibers. The protein growth factor insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) has been demonstrated to be sufficient to induce skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Over the past few years, signaling pathways which are activated by IGF-1, and which are responsible for regulating protein synthesis pathways, have been defined. More recently, it has been show that IGF-1 can also block the transcriptional upregulation of key mediators of skeletal muscle atrophy, the ubiquitin-ligases MuRF1 and MAFbx (also called Atrogin-1). Further, it has been demonstrated recently that activation of the NF-kappaB transcription pathway, activated by cachectic factors such as TNFalpha, is sufficient to induce skeletal muscle atrophy, and this atrophy occurs in part via NF-kappaB-mediated upregulation of MuRF1. Further work has demonstrated a trigger for MAFbx expression upon treatment with TNFalpha--the p38 MAPK pathway. This review will focus on the recent progress in the understanding of molecular signalling, which governs skeletal muscle atrophy and hypertrophy, and the known instances of cross-regulation between the two systems.
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            Fundamentals of resistance training: progression and exercise prescription.

            Progression in resistance training is a dynamic process that requires an exercise prescription process, evaluation of training progress, and careful development of target goals. The process starts with the determination of individual needs and training goals. This involves decisions regarding questions as to what muscles must be trained, injury prevention sites, metabolic demands of target training goals, etc. The single workout must then be designed reflecting these targeted program goals including the choice of exercises, order of exercise, amount of rest used between sets and exercises, number of repetitions and sets used for each exercise, and the intensity of each exercise. For progression, these variables must then be varied over time and the exercise prescription altered to maintain or advance specific training goals and to avoid overtraining. A careful system of goal targeting, exercise testing, proper exercise technique, supervision, and optimal exercise prescription all contribute to the successful implementation of a resistance training program.
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              The adaptations to strength training : morphological and neurological contributions to increased strength.

              High-resistance strength training (HRST) is one of the most widely practiced forms of physical activity, which is used to enhance athletic performance, augment musculo-skeletal health and alter body aesthetics. Chronic exposure to this type of activity produces marked increases in muscular strength, which are attributed to a range of neurological and morphological adaptations. This review assesses the evidence for these adaptations, their interplay and contribution to enhanced strength and the methodologies employed. The primary morphological adaptations involve an increase in the cross-sectional area of the whole muscle and individual muscle fibres, which is due to an increase in myofibrillar size and number. Satellite cells are activated in the very early stages of training; their proliferation and later fusion with existing fibres appears to be intimately involved in the hypertrophy response. Other possible morphological adaptations include hyperplasia, changes in fibre type, muscle architecture, myofilament density and the structure of connective tissue and tendons. Indirect evidence for neurological adaptations, which encompasses learning and coordination, comes from the specificity of the training adaptation, transfer of unilateral training to the contralateral limb and imagined contractions. The apparent rise in whole-muscle specific tension has been primarily used as evidence for neurological adaptations; however, morphological factors (e.g. preferential hypertrophy of type 2 fibres, increased angle of fibre pennation, increase in radiological density) are also likely to contribute to this phenomenon. Changes in inter-muscular coordination appear critical. Adaptations in agonist muscle activation, as assessed by electromyography, tetanic stimulation and the twitch interpolation technique, suggest small, but significant increases. Enhanced firing frequency and spinal reflexes most likely explain this improvement, although there is contrary evidence suggesting no change in cortical or corticospinal excitability. The gains in strength with HRST are undoubtedly due to a wide combination of neurological and morphological factors. Whilst the neurological factors may make their greatest contribution during the early stages of a training programme, hypertrophic processes also commence at the onset of training.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                +44(121) 300 4396 , richard.blagrove@bcu.ac.uk
                +44(191) 227 3573 , glyn.howatson@nothumbria.ac.uk
                +44(191) 227 4690 , phil.hayes@northumbria.ac.uk
                Journal
                Sports Med
                Sports Med
                Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.z.)
                Springer International Publishing (Cham )
                0112-1642
                1179-2035
                16 December 2017
                16 December 2017
                2018
                : 48
                : 5
                : 1117-1149
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2180 2449, GRID grid.19822.30, Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences, School of Health Sciences, , Birmingham City University, ; City South Campus, Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3TN UK
                [2 ]ISNI 0000000121965555, GRID grid.42629.3b, Division of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, , Northumbria University, ; Northumberland Building, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 8ST UK
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0000 9769 2525, GRID grid.25881.36, Water Research Group, , Northwest University, ; Potchefstroom, South Africa
                Article
                835
                10.1007/s40279-017-0835-7
                5889786
                29249083
                8aff164c-ca1d-499a-8108-bf38cc7d1f11
                © The Author(s) 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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                Systematic Review
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                © Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

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