Cross-Exercise: Which Training Program is Better?

Bicep curl

A Review by Alyssa Bialowas

Cross-education training is defined as a neurophysiological phenomenon where there is an increase in strength in an untrained limb following unilateral strength training in the opposite, contralateral limb. This can also be called cross-exercise, contralateral training or inter-limb transfer, however the most commonly used and the term most researched would be cross-education.

Previous studies have proved that strength increases in the contralateral limb after performing unilateral strength exercises with the ipsilateral limb, however the training load required to achieve the cross-training has yet to be determined (duration, frequency, intensity, rest, and type of exercise or training). Cross education can also be seen in the transfer of skills from one limb to another.

Related Article: Fascia Warm Up, Strength & Stretch Plan

The Study

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis to deduce which unilateral strength training load would enable the biggest strength increases in the contralateral limb. An electronic search was performed on five different databases, and was divided into four stages –

  1. Identification
  2. Screening
  3. Selection 
  4. Inclusion

In selected studies, effect size and confidence interval limits at 95% were calculated using the standardized mean change difference between the pre- and post-intervention measurements in both experimental and control groups.

The Results

A final sample of 10 studies were included in this search, which included a total of 409 participants. The results from the study indicate an interaction between the characteristics of the training programs and the increase in recorded contralateral strength. Isometric, concentric, eccentric or mixed training proved to have an influence on contralateral effect, with increased statistical significance in eccentric protocols. The type of training (sets of repetitions) had a strong influence, and no statistically significant correlations between speed of execution were found. 

The studies found with the most strenuous training (lots of muscle fatigue and failure) produced the lowest results on contralateral strength increases. Training programs with multiple sets of repetitions obtained strength improvements in the opposite limb.

Takeaway

High-speed eccentric exercises are more effective in producing inter-limb transfer of strength. The effects of cross-education may depend more on volume of training and frequency of training than on training load in individual sessions.

Related Article: High-Speed Resistance Training

You Might Like:

pushups

How to Workout to Promote Longevity

Exercise is for everyone. In fact, I would argue that exercise becomes more important as you get older. It helps stave off disease and illness, enhances functional ability, and ultimately promotes longevity – which is...
Longevity

Ways to Improve Your Longevity Genes

Humans are currently living longer than ever before. With advancements in healthcare, technology, and knowledge, we have begun to work out what it takes to maintain health across the lifespan, thus enhancing longevity in the...
Work from home

How to Stay Healthy While Working From Home

Over the last six months the world as we know it has been completely turned on its head. COVID-19 has impacted upon our way of life in a way that no one could have predicted...
Sardinia, Italy

Why people in “Blue Zones” Live longer

It is estimate that between 20 and 25% of your longevity is dictated by your genes – which means that more than 75% is dictated entirely by your lifestyle factors. And while research has given...

Reference

Beltran-Garrido, J., Cirer-Sastre, R., & Corbi, F. (2017). “Contralateral Effects After

Unilateral Strength Training: A Meta-Analysis Comparing Training Loads.”

Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 16, 180-186.

Women playing soccer

Exercise Research is Underrepresented in Female Athletes

man running with a parachute

Resisted Sprinting For Speed & Acceleration Development

ab roller

How Core Strength Effects Athletic Performance

Woman doing a pull up

Resistance Training & Protein Supplements: What You Need to Know

Weight Training Techniques: Benefits of Unilateral Training

Weight Training Techniques: The Benefits of Unilateral Training

Improve Aerobic Capacity: Tips and Tricks

How to Improve Your Aerobic Capacity – Tips & Tricks

Exercising in the Heat

Exercising in the Heat

Glute Exercise

The Best Glute Exercises: How to fire your glutes!

Probiotics and Prebiotics

What Are Probiotics and Prebiotics?

3 benefits of CrossFit

3 Benefits of CrossFit

Leave a Reply