Brittany Hollerbach

Professional Title:

Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA)

University, Department, Lab, Etc:

Kansas State University, Department of Kinesiology, FIT Lab

Brief Bio:

My background is in firefighting; I was a volunteer firefighter/EMT for four years and I taught firefighter classes for six years before deciding to pursue my education at K-State. After working in the fire service, I have a passion for researching firefighters and other tactical athletes such as the military and police officers. I am in my first year of the Ph.D. program in Kinesiology. I work in a research lab that focuses on high intensity functional training (HIFT); I focus specifically on the tactical athletes I mentioned above, with a special focus on firefighter health and wellness.
Brittany Headshot Photo 030

Current Research Question:

What are the differences in muscular strength, power, and endurance between CrossFit and traditional weight training? We are examining the differences in these strength variables among college fitness classes. Eventually, I would be interested in expanding this study to include firefighters to see if there is a more beneficial form of training for these important tactical athletes. 

Science on Tap II

Background on Research:

Though CrossFit has exploded in popularity over the past 17 years, little research has examined improvements in fitness due to CrossFit training. People who are physically active tend to live longer and have lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers. Physical activity can also help with weight control, and may improve academic achievement in students.

The benefits of Traditional Anaerobic Resistance (TAR) training are widely understood and accepted by a variety of health professionals and organizations. CrossFit, however, is not as widely researched, especially when examining changes in strength (Bellar, 2015). CrossFit training has been shown to increase maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max). 
Traditional anaerobic resistance training (TAR) consists of high-intensity intermittent bouts of exercise such as weight training, plyometrics, speed/agility, and interval training. The benefits of TAR training are specific to individualized program designs; some of these benefits include muscular strength, power, hypertrophy, and muscular endurance. College students are a relevant population to examine as weight gain and unhealthy habits are common; CrossFit might provide a healthy alternative. With little research examining the benefits of CrossFit training, it should be examined as an alternative exercise prescription for the college population. Physical activity has been linked to improved mental health and can also improve academic achievement in students. 

This study will examine differences in muscular strength, power, and endurance associated with CrossFit training compared to traditional strength training programs in the college setting. A secondary aim of this study is to examine the difference in motivational factors of participants.

Methods used:

We are examining change over time after an 8-week exercise intervention (CrossFit or traditional weight training). We will collect the following measures at baseline (first class) and follow-up (last class). We are gathering body composition, fitness, and questionnaire data. Height will be measured with a scale called a stadiometer. Body composition will be measured with a Tanita scale (it measures weight and percent fat/lean mass through bioelectrical impedance). Fitness measures will include a vertical jump test (to measure lower body muscular power), a grip strength test (to measure upper body muscular strength), a maximal push-up test (upper body muscular endurance), and a maximal body weight squat test (measuring lower body muscular endurance). Participants will also answer a short survey at the beginning and end of the 8-week intervention that asks questions about their health, current levels of physical activity, and psychosocial outcomes like enjoyment and motivation to exercise. 

Connecting with Brittany Hollerback: 

I am open to many different avenues of communication. I’d love to talk with anyone interested in the research we work on in our lab including: firefighter health/wellness, tactical athlete training, public health, behavior, and high-intensity functional training research. I would love to meet in person or have a discussion via email or Skype. I’d love to collaborate with other researchers or those who work with tactical athletes to develop a training program or a study designed to examine health/strength/wellness.

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