The effects of resistance training on mood following an autonomous vs. yoked protocol

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Background. Previous research has shown that an individual’s post-exercise mood plays an important role in their likelihood to participate in that exercise activity in the future (Emmons & Diener, 1986; Williams et al., 2008; Williams et al., 2012). Of the possible moderating variables in the exercise-affect relationship, exercise intensity shows the most support. However, an uncoupling effect manifested in Parffit, Rose, & Burgess (2006) showed that self-selecting the intensity acted as an affective buffer and essentially allowed participants to exercise at higher intensity without the expected drop in affect. It may be, therefore, that autonomy may further serve to moderate the impact of exercise on mood. Design. To explore this issue, we employed a "yoked" design (Dickerson & Creedon, 1981). Participants were randomly assignment to either a free-choice resistance exercise, or a yoked control. The yoked participant performs a bout of exercise that matches the selection of their autonomous counterpart. In this study, 14 college-aged students participated in a testing session to estimate 1-repetition maximums, and a resistance exercise session that was either autonomous (self-selected) or a relative replication (yoked). Participants completed mood questionnaires following the resistance exercise session. Results. A 2 (group) x 3 (time) with repeated measures on the second factor showed significant main effects of time for the Felt Arousal Scale F(2, 13) = 4.15, p = .05 and Negative Affect F(2, 11) = 4.28, p = .05 such that arousal and negative affect both declined during recovery. Additionally, five of the seven yoked participants were unable to progress through their relative resistance exercise bout without a decrease in weight in order to achieve the prescribed number of repetitions. Conclusion. Autonomy does not appear to be a critical component of affect following resistance training. Further research is needed to explore resistance training as a model of autonomy manipulation, and to test the possibility of a performance detriment accompanying a loss of autonomy.