Brady Kurtz1, Brittany Hollerbach1, Justin DeBlauw1, Jesse Stein1, Katie Heinrich1

1Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

PURPOSE: The health and performance benefits of both traditional weight training (TWT) and high intensity functional training (HIFT) have become well documented in recent years, thus warranting further investigation into the effectiveness of these exercise programs in an applied setting. This study examined how adherence to two different eight-week exercise courses, TWT and HIFT, affected subsequent fitness outcomes. METHODS: Healthy college students (N = 83) completed eight weeks (two classes per week) of TWT (n = 35, age = 22.3 ± 4.1 years, 73.5% male) or HIFT (n = 48, age = 21.8 ± 3.2 years, 54.2% male) courses. Participants could exercise outside of class but were asked to record all structured physical activity during the study. Adherence was determined by tracking daily class attendance. Fitness testing was conducted during the first and last class sessions in both groups. All participants completed the following fitness tests: hand grip strength, vertical jump, and whole-body muscular endurance push-up and squat tests. Analysis was performed for 82 participants with complete data (TWT = 34, HIFT = 48). RESULTS: Both groups had similar attendance (TWT = 88.0%, HIFT = 88.5%) and no significant differences in fitness variables at baseline. Both groups showed increases in assessments, although not all were significant: squats (TWT = +3.8 ± 5.3 reps, p < 0.001; HIFT = +3.9 ± 5.6 reps, p < 0.001), push-ups (TWT = +4.3 ± 4.5 reps, p < 0.001; HIFT = +2.0 ± 8.0 reps, p = 0.088), vertical jump height (TWT = +0.1 ± 8.6 cm, p = 0.921; HIFT = +1.6 ± 5.7 cm, p = 0.057), and hand grip strength (TWT = -0.1 ± 4.7 kg, p = 0.857; HIFT = +0.8 ± 5.0 kg, p = 0.418). However, attendance was not correlated with changes in scores for any fitness variables for either group (r = 0.17 to 0.36, p > .05). CONCLUSIONS: Class attendance was not related to changes in fitness variables for students in these exercise courses. Because courses were held only two days per week, additional exposure from a third weekly class day may provide sufficient neurological and physiological adaptation to induce change. Additionally, implementing maximal strength tests (e.g., squat, deadlift) may allow for strength changes to be seen across groups. Further investigation of exercise courses is needed to determine the effects of exposure and intervention duration on similar fitness outcomes.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: This project was crowdfunded through experiment.com

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