I'm here to tell you how you can instantly make a 7 percent improvement in your strength when it comes to training. All you need is a little more ‘oomph!’
"Get more oomph," I shout, as I see my client struggling at the bottom of her squat on the last rep of the set.
"Get more oomph!" I repeat again, but loader as she exhales, before releasing a loud grunt and shooting the bar up.
"Well done, very well done. Now rest."
'Get more oomph' is a phrase I use when I want a client to go all out. It's often at the point when I recognise that they need to use maximal force, aggression and effort in order to make the lift.
I tend to find that a lot of people new to lifting, and even through their first year of training, are failing to express maximal effort and the will to really push themselves.
It's often females that lack this inner aggression and paranoia of the 'grunt' in case it draws any attention to them. They will often keep their mouths shut and admit defeat prior to any real effort being put in to avoid any vocalised embarrassment. Now there's nothing wrong with this at all. Who's to say who's right or who's wrong, and whether there's any need to express the occasional kiap at all (kiap is a sharp exhalation of air that can produce a quick, loud, guttural yell)?
However, there is some evidence to suggest grunting may be beneficial to strength and performance. One study published in the Journal of Applied Sports Psychology took 25 novice and 25 experienced martial artists and tested their grip strength using a dynamometer (a device that measures force). They performed the exercise silently and then again using the breathing technique called kiap. The researches found performance for all participants was significantly better with kiap than without, with an average strength increase of 7% .
A more recent study looked at what effect grunting had on a tennis player’s ball speed and power of their shots. Researchers at the University of Nebraska got 10 tennis players (five males, five females) to hit balls for five two-minute periods both forehead and backhand, while they measured the speed of the balls. They found on the occasions that the players hit the ball while grunting, the ball speed was significantly greater compared to when they had their months shut .
"The results of this study provide an evidence base for using grunting as a means of enhancing sport performance," write the researchers. "It may be worthwhile for players and coaches in tennis and other sports to experiment with grunting to determine possible improvement in performance.”
Now, I'm not advocating that we should all go to the gym screaming and shouting, as that would make for one noisy and possibly off-putting environment to train in. What I am saying is that if we look at the research, and the anecdotal evidence I've seen, it wouldn't do any harm to let off the occasional grunt, kiap, yell, or whatever you find helps, especially when it could mean you squeeze out extra rep or two, or even a personal best.
So ladies! When you next find yourself battling against a weight don't be shy to use some occasional oomph! You won't be judged, I promise!
 Something to Shout About: A Simple, Quick Performance Enhancement Technique Improved Strength in Both Experts and Novices. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology (Impact Factor: 1.16). 01/2012; DOI: 10.1080/10413200.2012.688787
 Callison ER, Berg KE, Slivka DR. Grunting in tennis increases ball velocity but not oxygen cost. J Strength Cond Res. 2014;28(7):1915-9. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000333.
About Chris Hall
As the founder of Hall Training Systems, it is my mission to provide you with the very best personal training experience. I set up Hall Training Systems as Oxford's leading personal training service in nutrition, performance and weight loss, ensuring I can deliver the very best in training techniques.
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