Specific sequences of muscle coordination exist in movements of every sport. In particular, sports involving repetitive movement patterns such as rowing may rely more heavily on coordinated muscle contraction sequencing in order to produce optimal performance. The aim of this study was to monitor the fatigue patterns of the major muscles engaged during the rowing stroke in rowers of varying abilities during a 6-minute continuous maximal rowing effort on a Concept II rowing ergometer. Sixteen male rowers were categorized into 5 groups based on years of training and their average pace of the 6-minute continuous maximal rowing effort. Continuous surface electromyography signals, recorded from brachioradialis, biceps brachii, middeltoid, rectus abdominis, erector spinae, rectus femoris, biceps femoris, and medial gastrocnemius, were used to investigate the influence of local muscle fatigue on optimal muscle coordination sequences during the rowing exercise. Rowers who performed better on the ergometer test and had more rowing experience tended to portray muscle recruitment patterning, which alternately emphasized different major muscle groups in a form of sharing of workload. This sharing allowed mean peak frequency restitution to take place in some muscles, while others took on more of the workload. The muscles of rowers with less experience and lower levels of performance did not appear to exhibit this same phenomenon known as biodynamic compensation. If coaches have a clearer picture of the fatigue patterns and recruitment strategies occurring in their athletes during a maximal effort row, strength training program adaptations could be made to compensate for weaker areas, which may assist rowers in attaining and sustaining more optimal patterns and strategies throughout the exercise effort.
(C) 2007 National Strength and Conditioning Association