Westfield State faculty, alumnus research how muscle strength gains may be achieved through 3-week training program

Feb 8, 2022
aerial image of the Westfield State campus

PeerJ, an online publisher of seven scientifically based open-access journals, has published Westfield State University research into how bilateral back squat strength could be increased during an undulating resistance-training program. The research was conducted by Paul Higgins, DPT, and Paul Cacolice, Ph.D., Westfield State assistant professors of sports medicine and human performance; Westfield State alumnus Troy Doming ’17, Springfield Public Schools science teacher; and Jason Sawyer, Ph.D., assistant professor and chair of the Rhode Island College Department of Health and Physical Education.

The article, “Bilateral back squat strength is increased during a three-week undulating resistance training program with and without variable resistance in DIII collegiate football players,” explored strength development strategies and techniques in a short timeframe, and utilized members of the Westfield State University football team.

The investigation determined that appreciable gains in muscle strength may be achieved in as little as three weeks using a specific type of training program while still performing pre-season, sport-specific activities. These findings could have a profound impact on injury prevention and optimized performance, according to Cacolice.

For many colleges, especially at the NCAA Division III level, open time during pre-season is very limited, and there are considerable limitations to off-season training,” he explained. “Off-season training is a profoundly important component for injury prevention and for performance enhancement. It is commonly understood to take a minimum of four to six weeks to develop appreciable gains in muscle strength. This investigation suggests otherwise.

“Secondly, various performance enhancement strategies are presented to professionals, often without robust evidence of effectiveness,” Cacolice continued. “One such strategy is the use of elastic bands in addition to free weights. This investigation’s findings indicate that this strategy did not enhance strength in a condensed timeframe with this population.”

The authors suggest exploring the use of other training strategies to assess the effectiveness of strength gains in such a condensed timeframe, as well as a deeper investigation into the variable resistance training offered with elastic bands.