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It is well known that chronic resistance exercise training (RET) generates increases in muscular strength and that a variety of factors influence these gains, including neurological adaptations. Neurological adaptations to RET are a result of changes in motor programs, therefore it would be expected that variables which optimize motor learning would result in a higher amount of acquisition of skill and strength during the early stages of training. While this has been researched in some areas, one aspect of motor learning that has yet to be looked at in RET is blocked versus random practice. PURPOSE: To investigate the effects of blocked versus random practice during the implementation of an RET program to see which form of practice is better for skill acquisition and for strength gains. METHODS: Twenty four healthy, college-aged males (n=15) and females (n=9) were randomly assigned to one of three experimental groups: Control, blocked practice (BP), and random practice (RP). Individuals in the treatment conditions performed the bench press as well as dart-throwing with their non-dominant arm in either a BP or RP format during a 4-week training program. One repetition maximum (1RM) strength and movement component checklist scores were used to assess the acquisition of strength and skill of the bench press. Dart-throwing performance was also measured by calculating the constant error (CE) and variable error (VE) of the scores during the testing period. Measurements were taken at pretest, 1 week, 2 weeks, posttest, and at a retention test 9 days after the posttest. Repeated measures analysis of variance was used to evaluate the data. RESULTS: Strength increased significantly from pretest values in all groups but there were no differences in 1RM strength among groups. In the BP group, checklist scores were significantly higher than the control group at 1 week (12 ± 1 vs. 9 ± 2) and 2 weeks (12 ± 2 vs. 8 ± 3). In the RP group, checklist scores were also significantly higher compared to the control at 1 week (11 ± 2 vs. 9 ± 2) and 2 weeks (12 ±1 vs. 8 ± 3). Additionally, checklist scores were significantly higher in RP than control during the posttest (13 ± 0.5 vs. 9 ± 3) and retention test (12 ± 0.7 vs. 9 ± 3). There were no differences in scores between BP and RP. There were no differences between groups in CE and VE scores. CONCLUSIONS: RP seemed to cause a higher retention of the bench press movement after training that was absent in the other conditions, but there is insufficient evidence at this time to conclude that one form of practice was superior to the other in terms of the acquisition of skill or strength of the free weight bench press.
1RM, Checklist, Motor Learning, Strength, Skill Acquisition, Random Practice
Date of Defense
April 4, 2011.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
Lynn Panton, Professor Directing Thesis; Jeong-Su Kim, Committee Member; David Eccles, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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