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Specificity of power improvements through slow and fast isokinetic training.


College age males performed maximal two-legged isokinetic knee extensions three times per week for 6 wk at either 60 degrees/s (slow) or 300 degrees/s (fast) or both 60 and 300 degrees/s (mixed). The velocity specific and action specific (two-leg vs. one leg) improvements in peak torque (PT) were compared to a placebo group receiving low-level muscle stimulation. The slow group improved PT significantly (P less than 0.05) more than the placebo group only at its training velocity (60 degrees/s) and more so when the specific two-legged training action was mimicked (+32% with two legs vs. +19% with one leg). The mixed group enhanced PT by 24 and 16% at their respective training velocities of 60 and 300 degrees/s. These improvements were significantly larger than placebo and also significantly larger than the 9% improvement observed at the midvelocity of 180 degrees/s. The training specificity demonstrated by the slow and mixed groups suggest that neural mechanisms contributed to their improvements in power. This is supported by their unchanging muscle morphology. Training solely at 300 degrees/s (fast) however improved PT significantly more than placebo not only at the training velocity (+18%), but also at a slower velocity of 180 degrees/s (+17%). The fast group demonstrated a significant enlargement (+11%) of type II muscle fibers. These data suggest type II fiber hypertrophy to be a plausible mechanism for the nonspecific improvement of the fast group; however, a neurological adaptation that enhances power at and below the training velocity cannot be excluded.

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