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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2017 Apr;117(4):631-640. doi: 10.1007/s00421-017-3560-x. Epub 2017 Feb 26.

Changes in agonist neural drive, hypertrophy and pre-training strength all contribute to the individual strength gains after resistance training.

Author information

1
Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, UK. t.g.balshaw@lboro.ac.uk.
2
School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, UK. t.g.balshaw@lboro.ac.uk.
3
Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, UK.
4
School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, UK.
5
Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, Collegiate Campus, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Whilst neural and morphological adaptations following resistance training (RT) have been investigated extensively at a group level, relatively little is known about the contribution of specific physiological mechanisms, or pre-training strength, to the individual changes in strength following training. This study investigated the contribution of multiple underpinning neural [agonist EMG (QEMGMVT), antagonist EMG (HEMGANTAG)] and morphological variables [total quadriceps volume (QUADSVOL), and muscle fascicle pennation angle (QUADSθ p)], as well as pre-training strength, to the individual changes in strength after 12 weeks of knee extensor RT.

METHODS:

Twenty-eight healthy young men completed 12 weeks of isometric knee extensor RT (3/week). Isometric maximum voluntary torque (MVT) was assessed pre- and post-RT, as were simultaneous neural drive to the agonist (QEMGMVT) and antagonist (HEMGANTAG). In addition QUADSVOL was determined with MRI and QUADSθ p with B-mode ultrasound.

RESULTS:

Percentage changes (∆) in MVT were correlated to ∆QEMGMVT (r = 0.576, P = 0.001), ∆QUADSVOL (r = 0.461, P = 0.014), and pre-training MVT (r = -0.429, P = 0.023), but not ∆HEMGANTAG (r = 0.298, P = 0.123) or ∆QUADSθ p (r = -0.207, P = 0.291). Multiple regression analysis revealed 59.9% of the total variance in ∆MVT after RT to be explained by ∆QEMGMVT (30.6%), ∆QUADSVOL (18.7%), and pre-training MVT (10.6%).

CONCLUSIONS:

Changes in agonist neural drive, quadriceps muscle volume and pre-training strength combined to explain the majority of the variance in strength changes after knee extensor RT (~60%) and adaptations in agonist neural drive were the most important single predictor during this short-term intervention.

KEYWORDS:

Between-individual variability; Muscle architecture; Muscle volume; Neural drive; Strength training

PMID:
28239775
DOI:
10.1007/s00421-017-3560-x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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