Maximal strength training has been reported to emphasize neural adaptations. The main objective of this study was to detect differences in muscle activation between 5, 10, and 20 repetition maximum (RM) sets. Fourteen subjects performed elbow flexion with 5, 10, and 20RM. Subjects were tested for maximum isometric force (maximal voluntary contraction [MVC]), twitch amplitude (peak twitch [Pt]), time to peak twitch (TPT), half relaxation time (1/2 RT), electromyography (EMG), and muscle activation (interpolated twitch). Subjects were tested preexercise and 30 seconds, 1, 2, and 3 minutes postexercise. There were no significant differences in MVC, muscle activation, or antagonist/agonist EMG after 5, 10, or 20RM. However, greater RM did have a greater detrimental effect on twitch properties than fewer RM. Peak twitch was significantly (p = 0.004) less (32.08%) for the 20 than for the 5RM, whereas TPT shortened (p < 0.05) by 7.3 and 11.1% with 10 and 20RM vs. 5RM, respectively. Half relaxation time at 20RM was shortened (p < 0.05) by 20.6 and 25.4% compared with that at 5 and 10RM, respectively. MVC, muscle activation, and temporal twitch properties did not recover within 3 minutes of recovery. In conclusion, whereas 5RM did not produce greater muscle inactivation, twitch contractile properties were affected to a greater degree by a higher number of RM.
(C) 2002 National Strength and Conditioning Association