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Neuromuscular adaptations to concurrent strength and endurance training

McCARTHY, JOHN P.; POZNIAK, MYRON A.; AGRE, JAMES C.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: March 2002 - Volume 34 - Issue 3 - p 511-519
APPLIED SCIENCES: Physical Fitness and Performance

McCARTHY, J. P., M. A. POZNIAK, and J. C. AGRE. Neuromuscular adaptations to concurrent strength and endurance training. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 34, No. 3, pp. 511–519, 2002.

Purpose The purpose of this study was to examine muscle morphological and neural activation adaptations resulting from the interaction between concurrent strength and endurance training.

Methods Thirty sedentary healthy male subjects were randomly assigned to one of three training groups that performed 10 wk of 3-d·wk−1 high-intensity strength training (S), cycle endurance training (E), or concurrent strength and endurance training (CC). Strength, quadriceps-muscle biopsies, computed tomography scans at mid-thigh, and surface electromyogram (EMG) assessments were made before and after training.

Results S and CC groups demonstrated similar increases (P < 0.0001) in both thigh extensor (12 and 14%) and flexor/adductor (7 and 6%) muscle areas. Type II myofiber areas similarly increased (P < 0.002) in both S (24%) and CC (28%) groups, whereas the increase (P < 0.004) in Type I area with S training (19%) was also similar to the nonsignificant (P = 0.041) increase with CC training (13%). Significant increases (P < 0.005) in maximal isometric knee-extension torque were accompanied by nonsignificant (P ≤ 0.07) increases in root mean squared EMG amplitude of the quadriceps musculature for both S and C groups. No changes (P > 0.38) in the EMG/torque relation across 20 to 100% maximal voluntary contractions occurred in any group. A small 3% increase (P < 0.01) in thigh extensor area was the only change in any of the above variables with E training.

Conclusions Findings indicate 3-d·wk−1 concurrent performance of both strength and endurance training does not impair adaptations in strength, muscle hypertrophy, and neural activation induced by strength training alone. Results provide a physiological basis to support several performance studies that consistently indicate 3-d·wk−1 concurrent training does not impair strength development over the short term.

Departments of Orthopedics & Rehabilitation, Kinesiology, and Radiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI

Submitted for publication January 2001.

Accepted for publication July 2001.

©2002The American College of Sports Medicine