Neuromuscular Adaptations to Isoload versus Isokinetic Eccentric Resistance Training

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to compare neuromuscular adaptations induced by work-matched isoload (IL) versus isokinetic (IK) eccentric resistance training.

Methods

A total of 31 healthy subjects completed a 9-wk IL (n = 11) or IK (n = 10) training program for the knee extensors or did not train (control group; n = 10). The IL and IK programs consisted of 20 training sessions, which entailed three to five sets of eight repetitions in the respective modalities. The amount of work and the mean angular velocity were strictly matched between IL and IK conditions. Neuromuscular tests were performed before and after training and consisted of the assessment of quadriceps muscle strength, muscle architecture (vastus lateralis), EMG activity, and antagonist coactivation.

Results

IL, but not IK, eccentric resistance training enhanced eccentric strength at short muscle length (+20%), high-velocity eccentric strength (+15%), muscle thickness (+10%), and fascicle angle measured at rest (+11%; P < 0.05). Agonist EMG activity increased almost similarly for the two modalities, whereas antagonist coactivation was unaffected by training.

Conclusions

IL proved to be more effective than IK training for improving quadriceps muscle strength and structure. It is conjectured that the rapid acceleration of the load in the early phase of IL eccentric movements (i.e., at short muscle lengths), which results in greater torque and angular velocities compared with IK actions, is the main determinant of strength and neuromuscular adaptations to eccentric training. These findings have important consequences for the optimization of IL and IK eccentric exercise for resistance training and rehabilitation purposes.

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