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Changes in Maximal Strength, Velocity, and Power After 8 Weeks of Training with Pneumatic or Free Weight Resistance

Link to Original Research

David M. Frost,1 Stefanie Bronson1,3, John B. Cronin2,3 , and Robert U. Newton1

  1. Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. School of Sport and Recreation, Sport Performance Research Institute New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand
  3. School of Exercise and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia


The study embarked on a comparative analysis of strength training impacts utilizing pneumatic (PN) versus free weight (FW) resistance over an eight-week period. Conducted among 18 resistance-trained men, it assessed the baseline maximal strength, velocity, and power using both PN and FW bench press techniques. Following baseline assessments, participants were systematically allocated to either a PN or FW training regimen. The research aimed to uncover how these distinct training modalities influence the development of strength, velocity, and power, hypothesizing that PN resistance training might offer superior improvements in peak velocity and power at lower loads, while FW training could potentially enhance peak force and maximal strength more effectively.


The findings revealed distinct advantages for both training modalities in enhancing athletic performance among resistance-trained men: 

  • Free Weight Group: Showed significant increases in FW and PN 1RM (10.4% and 9.4%, respectively), maximum force (9.8%), velocity (11.6%), and power (22.5%).
  • Pneumatic Group: Experienced greater improvements in FW and PN 1RM (11.6% and 17.5%), maximum force (8.4%), velocity (13.6%), and power (33.4%). Notably, PN training led to significant advancements in peak force and power at lighter relative loads, suggesting potential benefits for sports requiring high-speed movements at lighter loads.


This study highlights the effectiveness of both free weight and pneumatic resistance training in improving strength, velocity, and power. However, pneumatic resistance may have distinct advantages, especially for enhancing power at lighter loads and potentially offering a safer, more consistent acceleration compared to traditional free weights. These findings support the incorporation of pneumatic resistance training into athletic preparation for sports demanding quick, powerful movements.


  • 1 Repetition Maximum (1RM): The maximum amount of weight one can lift in a single repetition for a given exercise.
  • Pneumatic Resistance: A type of resistance used in exercise equipment where air pressure is used to create resistance against movement.
  • Free Weights: Traditional resistance training tools, such as dumbbells and barbells, that rely on gravity to provide resistance.
  • Velocity: The speed of an object in a given direction.
  • Power: The ability to exert a maximal force in as short a time as possible, as in accelerating, jumping, and throwing implements.

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2015)

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