Resistance training methods and repeated-sprint ability: A meta-analysis

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (School of Health Sciences)

Schools and Centres

Health Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr Ashley Cripps

Second Supervisor

Dr Christopher Joyce


Objectives: This study sought to review and meta-analyse the effect of resistance training methods on RSA, in particular we explored different resistance training methods on specific repeated-sprint ability (RSA) associated outcomes. A secondary aim was to assess the influencing variables, namely training background, type, intensity and frequency of intervention, age and gender.

Methods: PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus and Science Direct databases were searched for original research articles. Search terms included ‘Strength-training’, ‘resistance-training’, ‘power-training’, ‘repeat-sprint-ability’, ‘repeated-sprints’ and ‘repeat-speed’. Inclusion criteria included (1) involve resistance training intervention consisting of a range of body weight and/or loaded resistance training (40-100% 1 repetition max [1-RM]) at least twice a week, (2) include recreationally active, amateur, state or national level participants, (3) incorporate an intervention period of ≥ 2 weeks, (4) include a pre- vs. post-test repeat sprint ability [RSA] assessment (repeated running or cycling sprints lasting ≤ 10 s with a recovery of ≤ 30 s), (5) resistance training was compared with a control group, in which the only difference between the groups was the intervention and (6) at least 5 sprint repetitions completed in assessments of RSA. The final dataset included a total of 11 studies which satisfied the inclusion criteria and were subsequently included in this meta-analysis. The mean number of participants in each study was 12 ± 3. Three studies included only female participants (n = 63) and seven studies included only male participants (n = 209) and one study did not specify gender of participants. Participants also ranged from amateur/recreational to state and international level participation. The meta-analysis was conducted using Comprehensive Meta Analysis software to assess standardised mean differences (SMDs), with the use of random effects models to explore the impact of resistance training interventions on RSA metrics. Sub-group analyses were performed on training intervention (complex, contrast, power and strength), gender (female and male), age (under 19 years of age [U19]) , level of play (amateur/recreational, state, international, not disclosed), duration of intervention, frequency of training, type of muscle contraction (concentric and eccentric) and training intensity (45-58%, 70-90%, 75-85%, 80-95%, not disclosed and body weight [BW]. These were analysed to determine the effectiveness of each training intervention on RSA and RSA outcomes. Outcomes included the fastest sprint time (seconds) / highest mechanical output (watts) (RSAbest); the mean sprint time/mean mechanical power (RSAmean); and sprint decrement that aims to quantify fatigue as a percentage, comparing actual sprint performance to an ideal performance where no decrement would occur and the best sprint is replicated each effort (SDec).

Results:There was a beneficial effect of all resistance training interventions on RSAbest (SMD = 0.56, CI95% 0.32 - 0.80; small-to-large effect; P ≤ 0.001). Similarly, the SMD for RSAmean was 0.38 (CI95% 0.12 - 0.64) providing a significant small-to-moderate effect (P = 0.004) in favour of training intervention. There was a trivial non-significant effect of training intervention on SDec (SMD = -0.07, CI95% -0.38 - 0.24; P = 0.653). Small-to-moderate heterogeneity was detected among the studies assessing RSAbest (I2 = 18.4%), RSAmean (I2 = 33.8%) and SDec (I2 = 47.04%). Subgroup analysis indicated that being a male and categorized as >U19 whilst engaging in resistance training led to larger improvements in RSAbest (Effect size [ES] = 0.804, CI95% 0.449 – 1.160, P ≤ 0.001and ES = 0.617, CI95% 0.344 - 0.890, P ≤ 0.001 respectively) compared to being female and

Conclusion: From analysis it is clear that resistance training will improve RSA, in a particular RSAbest and RSAmean. The most effective form of resistance training reported was complex and traditional strength training with those who were >U19 and male demonstrating the greatest training effects. Whilst this meta analysis found resistance training beneficial for RSA, further empirical evidence is required to inform practical application.

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