The Effects of Beliefs on Maximum Weight Lifting Performance

The main goal of this study was to evaluate weight lifting performance with varying perceptions of external cues in the environment. It took place to investigate prior studies that showed evidence that self-expectations influence muscle action potentials. It took a period of 6 weeks under the conditions of subjects thinking they were lifting more than they actually were, lifting less weight than they actually were, and how much they could lift without knowing how much resistance was being utilized until the completion of the test. The study included a control group that trained every week without any changes in knowledge of resistance (they knew how much they were lifting every time). The max lift of each subject’s incline bench press was recorded under each condition and data was collected and evaluated.

What is really interesting about the article is that in all cases and in all the 48 subjects tested, the condition under which each subject performed the best was when they thought they were lifting less than they actually were. The findings relate to the class because it involves testing the effects of exercise under different mental conditions and more importantly, incorporates the effects of how psychology can play a role in both exercise and sports. Although no physiology or biology is really investigated in the study it can absolutely be related to the real sports/exercise world. This shows evidence that not only does exercise and sports involve a great deal of physical ability but also a huge mental aspect as well.

This also means that the limit you set for yourself mentally has an effect on the actual limit that you might be able to perform. In another sense this could mean the reason why great lifters or athletes plateau at a certain point in their career might be because it’s all in their head. If they set their, “Mental limit,” higher or better yet refused to give themselves one then maybe their performance would also improve.

Have you ever been a part of or seen a sports team that everyone says has the potential to be great but for some reason they just don’t win games?

The NBA team the Minnesota Timberwolves over the past few years would be a great example of this. The young team boasted a roster with young stars in Karl Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, Tyus Jones, and other young prospects. For the past three years fans thought the upcoming season would be their time to shine and almost every year they disappointed. They could barely get over 30 wins in a long and grueling 82 game NBA season without even being close to a playoff berth. This year they traded a few younger guys to get All star Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls and only halfway through the season have already surpassed their highest win total in years. The addition of a big name to their roster resulted in them setting their bar higher and they will most likely reach the playoffs for the first time in about a decade.

I think the psychology behind athletic performance and success is just as important as the physical aspects. This article shows that just because someone believed they were lifting something lighter they were able to overcome their physical limitations and improve their performance. This leaves the potential for further studies in the future that may be beneficial to the improvement of performance in athletes by utilizing techniques and mental training exercises such as ones similar to this.

The link for the article is here


Ness, R., & Patton, R. (1979). The effects of beliefs on maximum weight lifting performance.3(2), 205.

Rest Interval between Sets in Strength Training

This article essentially reflected on how training in certain ways can have certain effects on strength, endurance, hypertrophy and power of muscles. Looking at the exercise specifically they looked at the number of sets, reps, and rest between sets and how this effected the muscle of the athlete performing these movements.  Rest length between sets obviously being the changing variable in this study, the trials looked at acute responses and chronic adaptations of the muscles to note how the muscles were stimulated. Looking at longer rest periods such as 3-5 minutes, it was shown that an athlete could do more reps over the course of more sets, and with repeatedly doing this overall would get stronger than an athlete that had shorter resting periods, not allowing for as many reps between each set.  Similarly, longer rest periods allowed for more explosion and power from the athletes. For example, an NFL player at the combine doing the bench press will want to wait a significant amount of time between warming up, and performing the bench press to allow for optimal power and explosion to get as many reps as possible. When training with shorter rest periods, for example 30-60 seconds, this was shown to lead to more muscle hypertrophy and overall increase muscular endurance. Little rest between sets was proven to show an immediate acute reaction increasing growth hormone. This is shown to be effective in bodybuilders. Bodybuilders lift for the sole purpose of being big, tone, and proportionate. Getting this high intensity, more reps, low rest sets in for a workout will lead to more blood rushing to the muscle and allow for the muscle to grow. However, power lifters would implement the longer rest times with a heavier weight (closer to a 1 rep max, typically about 85%) because this leads overall to increased strength in the long run. Article results and full explanations –>

Overall I found this article very interesting. In todays day in age, I feel that so many people preach to lift heavy weight all the time with longer rest periods. I see this in the gym often, Delaware’s powerlifting team has a tendency to do multiple sets with a high weight, however they take a leisure break between sets usually for at least 5 minutes. This makes sense, this will increase strength in the long run however does not necessarily lead the powerlifters to get very big like a bodybuilder. On the other hand, a bodybuilder in the gym that I always see I will see doing lighter weight. He is a very big guy, however I will see him squatting 225 for 20 reps, and taking about a minute break between sets. This allows for him to completely fatigue his legs and allow them to grow, without him necessarily focusing on strength.

Has anyone else had similar experiences in this field? Has anyone else noticed a difference between lower reps, with a higher weight and longer rests, vs. higher reps with a shorter rest period?

Works Cited — de, B F, et al. “Rest interval between sets in strength training.” Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.)., U.S. National Library of Medicine,

Other related articles —
A brief review: factors affecting the length of the rest interval between resistance exercise sets. –>
The effect of different rest intervals between sets on volume components and strength gains. –>

Other Relevant Websites for similar information –>

Single vs. Multi-Joint Exercises Effect on the Body

Resistance training has many positive health effects including but not limited to increased aerobic capacity, decrease in body fat, and increase in muscle strength. Each of these qualities were used to examine the effects of single versus multi-joint exercises in this research study. Thirty-six male participants were split into two groups to complete an 8-week resistance training program that contained either only single joint (SJ) exercises or only multi-joint (MJ) exercises. Body composition, one repetition maximum tests, and peak oxygen consumption (VO2max) were all measured at the beginning and end of the study. Statistical analysis showed that both groups improved in all categories, with those in the MJ group having significantly larger improvements in VO2max and muscle strength than those in the SJ group.

People question what type of exercises should be part of their training and learning more about the benefits of each will help to optimize training programs. This study kept total load volume the same between the groups which allows for comparison between the groups; however, in actual training programs this is often not the actual switch people would be making if changing exercise types. Other constraints of this study include that it only included male participants and they were all amateur soccer players. Therefore, further studies would be needed to conclude that the same results would hold true for other groups like professional weight lifters, non-athletes, and females.


Other articles on this topic:

Work Cited: Paoli A, Gentil P, Moro T, Marcolin G, Bianco A. Resistance Training with Single vs. Multi-joint Exercises at Equal Total Load Volume: Effects on Body Composition, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Muscle Strength. Front Physiol. 2017;8:1105. doi:10.3389/fphys.2017.01105.

Exercise and Sleep: Workout and Sleep longer/better

According to a paper [1] published in 2014 in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, that there is a bidirectional relationship between sleeping and working out. Many of us have probably heard about this study, but rarely do we stop and think what would happen to our sleep schedules if we did cease to exercise. We know that we can achieve better and more restful sleeping habits if we workout for 45 or so minutes a day; however, many graduates students, myself included should be spending time in the gym or exercising even in the off season of their sports. This is not even to stay in shape for their sports, but instead, to maintain the sleeping patterns and effectiveness of that sleep.  From this article, I learned that we should be forcing ourselves to workout to, of course, benefit from the known effects of working out on health, but also to achieve the indirect benefits of obtaining better sleep patterns and become healthier from that.

1:Kline CE. The bidirectional relationship between exercise and sleep: Implications for exercise adherence and sleep improvement. American journal of lifestyle medicine. 2014;8(6):375-379. doi:10.1177/1559827614544437.

Sports Technology: Where Does it Stop?

In both his Ted Talk ,  Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger?, David Epstein, the author of The Sports Gene, delves into the impacts that technology has made in many different sports. Tennis racquets and track surfaces were just a few he explained, but the one that caught my attention was the development of racing swimsuits. Unlike the other advancements, new swimsuit material was actually banned in 2010 for “distorting the sport”.

In this Daily Beast article, based on his book, Mathletics: A Scientist Explains 100 Amazing Things About the World of Sports, John D. Barrow explains why these suits were banned and the technology of how they worked. While logically people know water causes more drag than air (sprinting splits are faster than swimming splits of the same distance) it is astounding how much more. Water, according to Barrow, causes 780 times more drag. This obviously is not ideal for swimmers, so the whole-body polyurethane suits were able to trap small pockets of air that increased the swimmers buoyancy. Essentially, the more of their body that is above the water the less drag thats created. These suits became especially popular after Michael Phelps’ 8 gold medal run of the 2008 olympics. The next summer, 9 world records were broken by swimmers wearing these suits. People began to question whether they were fair with some swimmers threatening to stop competing. Michael Phelps claimed he would boycott all international events until they were banned. So with the threat of losing their top athlete the olympic committee took it to a vote and the suits were banned almost unanimously.

The reason this debate is interesting to me is that it raises the bigger question: Where do we draw the line in sports technology? I understand that the idea of sports is to compare one athletes ability to the next, but if they are both wearing the suits who cares? But on the other end, the sport was quickly headed to an arms race of technology rather than hard work and training. This has made me extremely interested in sports technology in other sports.

The Sports Gene- Chapter 14 Reflection

Class Make Up Blog 4/13 – Focus on Chapter 14

As the title of Chapter 14 suggests, “Sled Dogs Ultrarunner, and Couch Potato Genes”, David Epstein continued to explore the genetic influences on the worlds top athletes- and the role these genes play in the average person’s lifelong health journey. This chapter specifically looked at a person’s genetic predisposition to physical activity levels

Epstein starts off the chapter with the story of Lance Mackey. A dog sled racer and breeder, Mackey had great success because he bred dogs for the will to run rather than their speed.  WHile his hand was somewhat forced because he could not afford the expensive racing dogs, he looked for th dogs that simply wanted to run. Zorro, his pride an joy, was one of his first dogs and the beginning of his winning lineage.

Mackey used Zorro (above) to breed the first generations of racing dogs.

After Mackey’s crazy success, Heather Huson began to look extensively at the genetics of sled racing dogs.  In her 201 dissection of  breed composition and performance she showed Alaskan Huskies to be there own distinct breed and supported Mackey’s opinion that he won because his dogs wanted to run not because they were forced to.

While sled racing is exciting, what does winning a thousand-mile dog race mean for our athletes? Well, a lot apparently. It is easy to understand the role genetics play in athletic success in terms of body structure and muscle type, but it is not as blatant the role it plays is in drive and passion to train.  After discussing the genetics of huskies, Epstein turns to lab rodents bred to be runners.  They have also shown, that like the huskies, mice can be bred for work ethic.  In  Theodore Garland’s voluntary-runner breeding program he showed that while the bodies changes physically, the brain changed as well.  Mice who ran more than the average mice were bred together and resulted in “high-runner” mice who ran excessively. This genetic drive for physical activity can be seen in Pam Reed, an ultrarunner. She believes that running more than three hours a day may make some people ill, but not doing it would certainly make her ill. She has difficulty sitting still and is believed to be the human version of the mice bred to run. Taking the study a step farther, Garland dosed the mice with Ritalin and found that the levels of dopamine in the medicated mice matched the levels in the “high-runner” mice. Particular dopamine receptor genes have been linked to higher levels of physical activity, and can be further linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Ritalin, used on the mice in Garland’s study, is a common medication for those with ADHD to calm them and increase their focus.  Tim Lightfoot has studied the connection between ADHD, exercise and dopamine levels and believes that although Ritalin may be beneficial to keep students focused in class, it may be blunting their strong drive to be active.

I found the genetics of work ethic to be fascinating because you do not hear about it often. For example, during the NFL draft they tell you about players height, weight and other physical stats, but there is no category to quantify “drive” or “passion”.  The connection towards the end of the chapter to the treatment of ADHD also caught my attention. In 2008 when Michael Phelps had his incredible 8 gold medal run I was his biggest fan. I have read (maybe embarrassingly) read his autobiography multiple times. In No Limits, Phelps speaks to his experience with ADHD and his experiences with medications.  In this article in Psychology today, “From ADHD Kid to Olympic Gold Medalist” they explain how swimming became his medication by allowing him to release his nervous energy and increase his structure and focus.

While Phelps has the perfect body for a swimmer with freakishly large feet and hands and an abnormally long torso makes him a force to be reckoned with, his brain may also be home to perfect genetics we do not understand yet. I believe this chapter is eye opening and important because as a society we continue to over-medicate children with ADHD. These children may not all be olympians but these studies show that they may just need a physical outlet rather than Rtalin.

The Unofficial Soundtrack of Basketball

If you are a sports fan, like me, March is not just another month in your calendar. No, March means March Madness. The month to watch the most fun basketball games. Last year, in 2016, a total of 74,340 fans attended the final game, while 3.4 million people watched live streams through the app, and 22.3 million people via Turner Sports’ at the end of the game. An important feature of the game that I, like many others probably, have never really thought about is the squeaky noise of the shoes on the court, “the unofficial soundtrack of basketball”. It is an important feature to both the players and the fans. The New York Times wrote an article about how this phenomenon can be explained by shoe designers, rubber scientists, mechanical engineers and a biologist.

A detailed look at the Under Armour basketball shoe worn by Maryland
in a game at Michigan State in 2014.

Credit Leon Halip/Getty Images
From: New York Times, March 17, 2017              

Sheila Patek, a biologist at Duke University, found that her discovery on the defensive mechanism of spiny lobsters can be related to the squeaky noise from basketball shoes. These lobsters rub a smooth, rubbery part of their antenna against a smooth, hard part of their head, creating a squawk. Contact between these types of surfaces is similar with the basketball sole and court, as Martyn Shorten, owner of a biomechanics consulting firm in Portland, Ore., found. He is one of the few people that has researched the squawk specific to basketball shoes. With his research partner Xia Xi, he concluded that the herringbone structures of the shoe outsole are induced to vibrate at their low-order natural frequencies by stick-slip contact with the surface. These vibrations turn into the well-known high-pitched squeaks. Leo Chang, senior design director at Nike, says that “the squeak is reassurance to a lot of players. They listen for it. It gives them that audio sense of reassurance that they’re sticking.” Judit Puskas, a chemical engineering professor at the University of Akron, explains the rubber technology, as that is what the sole is made of. In designing, for example a basketball shoe, you need to find the right balance between the ability of the rubber material to “stick”, “slip”, and wear. The rubber sole needs to allow a player to stop and turn, a too sticky sole creates a too high impact on the body. Greg McDaniel, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Boston University, explains how the squeaky noise is created under a rubber sole. Air gets compressed in the tiny, vibrating spaces in the rubber sole, which sucks in neighboring air. This causes the air to expand, which leads to compression of neighboring air. As rubber moves, it compresses air at a frequency that is the same as the vibrations. He found that different herringbone designs lead to high-pitch squeaks of frequencies between 5-6 kilohertz, which can be carried through an arena very well. That is why a basketball game will never be silenced.

This article immediately made me think of one of the discussions from The Sports Gene, when they talk about how technology has impacted performance. I really wonder how much the design of the basketball shoe has impacted the performance of the players. The chapter of The Vitruvian NBA Player mentions how the height of players has influenced the sport so much in terms of recruiting, but maybe the development of the basketball shoe has also contributed to how quickly players can turn, and how high they can jump? In general I thought this article related to the course as it discussed the design of a piece of equipment, the shoe, that provides exercise.

I found it very interesting that people took the time and effort to research the squeaky noises on the basketball court. The findings from Martyn Shorten and Xia Xi on the different frequencies of squeaky noise caused by different shoes were pretty specific. I also found it interesting that people from so many different disciplines contributed to researching this topic. Like mentioned earlier, it was shoe designers, rubber scientists, mechanical engineers and a biologist whose knowledge was useful. Who would ever think to relate a spiny lobster to a basketball shoe? I also think it is interesting how the design of the basketball shoe sole has an impact in many different aspects. Not only does the rubber design of the sole matter for friction between the shoe and the court which impact the forces felt on their bodies when they are turning, it also plays a role in the mental game. It gives the players confidence in their moves, as they said it re-insures that sticking feeling for them, and I think that potentially even influences risk of injury. I wonder if a basketball player would move differently when you would give him a non-squeaky shoe, and if that would put him at higher risk for injury.


LISS vs. HIIT Training Sessions – Can both lead to Weight Loss?

Although exercise can provide many health benefits, many people look at it as a simple way to help them lose weight. However, intense exercise may seem daunting to populations who are new to exercise or recovering from injury. Therefore, the question arises of whether it is possible to lose weight with low intensity exercise. In this news article, published by The Telegraph, they take a look into each form of exercise and how they effect weight loss.

The author, Lucy Waterlow, claims how “the HIIT philosophy has been behind every new exercise class, bestselling book and rising YouTube fitness star” The fitness acronym stands for High Intensity Interval Training and typically requires you to keep your heart rate at at least 85% of its maximum capacity throughout the workout. However, for people with injuries of any kind this method of exercise is a bit more difficult. Therefore, LISS has been heavily emphasized as of late as being the new and improved way to keep your weight under control and putting less of a strain on your body. LISS stands for Low Intensity Steady State and requires you to keep your heart rate between 60-80% of its maximum capacity.

The article references a recent study by the University of Bath, which found that “LISS can be just as effective as HIIT when it comes to weight loss”. Theses results came from a study in which they asked people of a similar age to exercise five times a week at either high or moderate intensities. Their results showed that after a three-week period, both groups had lost the same amount of weight. Dr Jean-Philippe Walhin, a human physiology research fellow who carried out the study, quotes ‘What really matters is how many calories were used up by exercising in total.’

The articles continues with an additional argument claiming that LISS may motivate people to work out more since it isn’t as stressful on your body. This way, you are able to increase your physiological health and motivation at the same time without the high risk of injury that may occur with High Intensity Interval Training. In conclusion, the article highlights the benefit of LISS workouts and how they are comparable to HIIT workouts in weight loss.

I believe this is a relevant article to the Engineering Exercise course as it looks at two different, popular types of training and how they affect weight loss. Although “the best way to lose weight” will always be a hot topic, I think it is important to recognize that different exercises are better for different people based off of their medical history.For example, the idea of going to the gym for a cross fit class may scare someone who is obese out of working out at all. But, the idea of 45-minute brisk walk may appeal to them more and benefit them physiologically rather than not working out at all. It becomes a cross between physical therapy, where exercises are designed for the individual, and research, where the latest and greatest ideas for weight loss are tested.

In my opinion, I thought this article was interesting in its approach to the general public but was lacking in the hardcore data. However, I felt this is expected in a “Lifestyle” piece and found it interesting to see how referencing studies and quoting doctors may be enough to convince the general public about health and fitness, regardless of whether hard data was presented. When I looked into the argument of LISS vs. HIIT workouts further, I found a source that provided more detailed information to prove their points and support their argument. In Martinez’s “Cardio for Fat Loss“, he focuses on the pros and cons of each kind of training and how they benefit you in weight loss. I found this to be more beneficial than the original article as it stated straight facts about both, and let the reader decide which is better for their situation. The underlying conclusion was that “HIIT is quicker, proves to be more effective for fat loss, creates metabolic changes, and helps with muscle retention but not everybody can do HIIT. LISS is safer, but takes twice as long to accomplish similar things and it still has its place for fat loss in moderate amounts, from a pure calorie burning standpoint (meaning only to burn calories & not make changes to your metabolism)”. This was helpful in looking at weight loss from a metabolism standpoint, rather than just pure fat loss. In conclusion, it is beneficial to know that despite differences, both HIIT and LISS workouts can lead to some form of weight loss.


Reccomended for Further Reading:

Lucy Waterlow, “Ditch those heart-thumping HITT sessions: low intensity exercise is the best way to work out” February 23, 2017. Available from:

Chris Martinez, “Cardio for Fat Loss: High Intensity Interval Training Cardio vs. Low Intensity Steady State Cardio”. February 15, 2017. Available from:


Welcome to BMEG467-014: Engineering Exercise, The Blog.  Our Spring semester starts February 6, 2017, so you can expect posts to begin populating by February 19, 2017.  Until then, we encourage you to visit the other pages to learn more about the course and the blog.