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J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2008 Jun;18(3):434-45. Epub 2006 Dec 29.

The effect of increasing resistance on trunk muscle activity during extension and flexion exercises on training devices.

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Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, De Pintelaan 185, B9000 Ghent, Belgium.


Although progressive resistance training of trunk muscles on devices is very common, today, the effects of increasing resistance on trunk muscle activity during dynamic extension and flexion movements on training devices have not been reported yet. Thirty healthy subjects participated in maximal isometric and submaximal dynamic (at 30%, 50% and 70% of maximum mean torque (MMT)) extension and flexion exercises on Tergumed lumbar training devices. The normalized (as a percentage of maximal voluntary isometric contractions (MVIC)) electromyographic activity of 16 abdominal and back muscles was investigated. The results of the present study indicated that in general, with increasing resistance from 30% MMT to 50% MMT and 70% MMT, the activity of all back muscles during the extension exercises and the activity of all abdominal muscles during the flexion exercises increased significantly. To train strength (>60% of MVIC), low intensities (30% and 50% MMT) appeared sufficient to affect the back muscles, but for the abdominals higher resistance (70% MMT) was required. In contrast to the other back muscles, the lumbar multifidus demonstrated high activity levels during both the extension and the flexion exercises. As the lumbar multifidus is demonstrated to be an important muscle in segmental stabilization of the lumbar spine, this finding may help in understanding the efficacy of rehabilitation programs using specific training devices.

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