SCHULZE, K., P. GALLAGHER, and S. TRAPPE. Resistance training preserves skeletal muscle function during unloading in humans. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 303–313, 2002.
Purpose: The intent of this investigation was to design and evaluate a low-volume, high-intensity resistance-training program to preserve knee extensor (KE) and plantar flexor (PF) size as measured by cross-sectional area (CSA), strength, and neuromuscular function (IEMG) with unloading.
Methods: Thirty-two men (age = 30 ± 3 yr; weight = 80 ± 4 kg; height = 181 ± 2 cm) participated. Sixteen men underwent 21 d of unilateral lower-limb suspension (ULLS) and were assigned to control (ULLS-CON, N = 8) or countermeasures (ULLS-CM, N = 8). The remaining subjects were ambulatory for 21 d and were assigned to control (AMB-CON, N = 8) or countermeasures (AMB-CM, N = 8). Countermeasure subjects performed resistance training every third day during the 21-d period.
Results: KE and PF CSA decreased (P < 0.05) 7% in the ULLS-CON, whereas no changes occurred in ULLS-CM, AMB-CON, and AMB-CM. ULLS-CON maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) decreased 17% (P < 0.05) in the KE and PF. ULLS-CON torque-velocity characteristics (concentric and eccentric) decreased (P < 0.05), 22% to 12% and 20% to 14% (slow to fast) in the KE and PF, respectively. ULLS-CM PF increased (P < 0.05) in MVC and eccentric contractions, whereas no other changes occurred in MVC or torque-velocity characteristics in the KE or PF of the ULLS-CM, AMB-CON, and AMB-CM subjects. Submaximal IEMG increased (P < 0.05) whereas maximal IEMG decreased (P < 0.05) in the KE and PF of the ULLS-CON group. However, no change or slight improvements in IEMG activity were found in the KE and PF of the ULLS-CM, AMB-CON, and AMB-CM.
Conclusion: These results indicate that a resistance-training paradigm employed every third day during 21 d of unloading was effective in maintaining skeletal muscle strength (static and dynamic) and size of the KE and PF.
Human Performance Laboratory, Ball State University, Muncie IN 47306
Submitted for publication January 2001.
Accepted for publication May 2001.