Effects of low-load, higher-repetition versus high-load, lower-repetition resistance training not performed to failure on muscle strength, mass, and echo intensity in healthy young men: a time-course study

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The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of low-load, higher-repetition training (LLHR) with those of high-load, lower-repetition training (HLLR) on muscle strength, mass, and echo intensity in healthy young men. Fifteen healthy men (age, 23.1 ± 2.6 years) were randomly assigned to one of the two groups: LLHR or HLLR group. Resistance training on knee extensor muscles was performed 3 days per week for 8 weeks. One-repetition maximum (1RM) strength, maximum isometric strength, muscle thickness and muscle echo intensity on ultrasonography of the rectus femoris muscle were assessed every 2 weeks. Analysis of variance showed no significant group × time interaction, and only a significant main effect of time was observed for all variables. The 8-week resistance training increased 1RM, maximum isometric muscle strength, and muscle thickness by 36.2%–40.9%, 24.0%–25.5%, and 11.3%–20.4%, respectively, whereas it decreased echo intensity by 8.05%–16.3%. Significant improvements in muscle strength, thickness, and echo intensity were observed at weeks 2, 4, and 8, respectively. The lack of difference in time-course changes between LLHR and HLLR programs suggests that low-load training can exert similar effects on muscle mass and characteristics as high-load training by increasing the number of repetitions, even when not performed to failure.

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