Specificity of training velocity and training load on gains in isokinetic knee joint strength

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The present study investigated the effects of three different strength training regimes on the isokinetic strength profile of the knee extensors (quadriceps, Q) and flexors (hamstrings, H) and if increases in isokinetic strength were accompanied by an enhanced performance during a more complex leg movement, the soccer kick. Twenty-two elite soccer players performed 12 weeks of strength training (three times per week) at either high resistance (HR group: 4 sets, 8 reps, 8RM loading), low resistance (LR group: 4 sets, 24 reps, 24RM loading), loaded kicking movements (LK group: 4 sets, 16 reps, 16RM loading) while one group served as controls (CO group). Isokinetic concentric and eccentric moment of force was obtained (KinCom) as peak moment (Mpeak) and moment at 50° knee flexion (M50) at angular velocities of 30, 120, 240° s-1. Isokinetic knee joint strength was unchanged in groups LR, LK, CO. However, after the HR strength training, concentric Mpeak (±SD) increased (P < 0.01) at 30° s-1 (Q, 258 ± 37 to 297 ± 57 Nm; H, 122 ± 22 to 140 ± 21 Nm). Furthermore, eccentric Mpeak increased at 30, 120 and 240° s-1 (Q, 274 ± 60 to 345 ± 57 Nm (P < 0.01), 291 ± 56 to 309 ± 49 Nm and 275 ± 43 to 293 ± 36 Nm (P < 0.05), respectively; H, 143 ± 32 to 158 ± 25 Nm, 152 ± 39 to 169 ± 31 Nm and 148 ± 27 to 163 ± 19 Nm (P < 0.05)). Corresponding increases (P < 0.05) were observed for M50. The H/Q ratio calculated as eccentric hamstring strength divided by concentric quadriceps strength (Hecc/Qcon, representative for knee extension) at 240° s-1 increased (P < 0.05) from 107 to 118% (based on Mpeak) and from 90 to 105% (M50). Kicking performance estimated by maximal ball flight velocity was unaffected by any of the strength training regimes investigated. In conclusion, only heavy-resistance strength training induced increases in isokinetic muscle strength in the absence of learning effects. Concentric strength gains were observed at the actual velocity of training, while eccentric strength gains were found over the entire range of velocities examined. The capacity of the hamstring muscles for providing stability to the knee joint during fast extension was augmented as a result of the heavy-resistance strength training. Strength training should be integrated with other types of training involving the actual movement pattern in order to increase the performance within more complex movement patterns.

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