Short-Term Unilateral Resistance Training Results in Cross Education of Strength Without Changes in Muscle Size, Activation, or Endocrine Response

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Abstract

Beyer, KS, Fukuda, DH, Boone, CH, Wells, AJ, Townsend, JR, Jajtner, AR, Gonzalez, AM, Fragala, MS, Hoffman, JR, and Stout, JR. Short-term unilateral resistance training results in cross education of strength without changes in muscle size, activation, or endocrine response. J Strength Cond Res 30(5): 1213–1223, 2016—The purpose of this study was to assess the cross education of strength and changes in the underlying mechanisms (muscle size, activation, and hormonal response) after a 4-week unilateral resistance training (URT) program. A group of 9 untrained men completed a 4-week URT program on the dominant leg (DOM), whereas cross education was measured in the nondominant leg (NON); and were compared with a control group (n = 8, CON). Unilateral isometric force (PKF), leg press (LP) and leg extension (LE) strength, muscle size (by ultrasonography) and activation (by electromyography) of the rectus femoris and vastus lateralis, and the hormonal response (testosterone, growth hormone, insulin, and insulin-like growth factor-1) were tested pretraining and posttraining. Group × time interactions were present for PKF, LP, LE, and muscle size in DOM and for LP in NON. In all interactions, the URT group improved significantly better than CON. There was a significant acute hormonal response to URT, but no chronic adaptation after the 4-week training program. Four weeks of URT resulted in an increase in strength and size of the trained musculature, and cross education of strength in the untrained musculature, which may occur without detectable changes in muscle size, activation, or the acute hormonal response.

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