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Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2015 Oct;25(5):640-9. doi: 10.1111/sms.12292. Epub 2014 Jul 31.

Task-specific neural adaptations to isoinertial resistance training.

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School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK.
Isokinetic Medical Group, London, UK.
Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK.


This study aimed to delineate the contribution of adaptations in agonist, antagonist, and stabilizer muscle activation to changes in isometric and isoinertial lifting strength after short-term isoinertial resistance training (RT). Following familiarization, 45 men (23.2 ± 2.8 years) performed maximal isometric and isoinertial strength tests of the elbow flexors of their dominant arms before and after 3 weeks of isoinertial RT. During these tasks, surface electromyography (EMG) amplitude was recorded from the agonist (biceps brachii short and long heads), antagonist (triceps brachii lateral head), and stabilizer (anterior deltoid, pectoralis major) muscles and normalized to either Mmax (agonists) or to maximum EMG during relevant reference tasks (antagonist, stabilizers). After training, there was more than a twofold greater increase in training task-specific isoinertial than isometric strength (17% vs 7%). There were also task-specific adaptations in agonist EMG, with greater increases during the isoinertial than isometric strength task [analysis of variance (ANOVA), training × task, P = 0.005]. A novel finding of this study was that training increased stabilizer muscle activation during all the elbow flexion strength tasks (P < 0.001), although these were not task-specific training effects. RT elicited specific neural adaptations to the training task that appeared to explain the greater increase in isoinertial than isometric strength.


Neural activation; elbow flexors; stabilizer muscles; training specificity

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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