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Muscle Function in Men and Women During Maximal Eccentric Exercise

Hubal, Monica J; Rubinstein, Scott R; Clarkson, Priscilla M

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: July 2008 - Volume 22 - Issue 4 - p 1332-1338
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31817392ec
Original Research

Hubal, MJ, Rubinstein, SR, and Clarkson, PM. Muscle function in men and women during maximal eccentric exercise. J Strength Cond Res 22: 1332-1338, 2008-This study assessed muscle fatigue patterns of the elbow flexors in untrained men and women to determine if sex differences exist during acute maximal eccentric exercise. High-intensity eccentric exercise is often used by athletes to elicit gains in muscle strength and size gains. Development of fatigue during this type of exercise can increase risk of injury; therefore, it is important to understand fatigue patterns during eccentric exercise to minimize injury risk exposure while still promoting training effects. While many isometric exercise studies have demonstrated that women show less fatigue, the patterns of fatigue during purely eccentric exercise have not been assessed in men and women. Based on the lack of sex differences in overall strength loss immediately post-eccentric exercise, it was hypothesized that women and men would have similar relative fatigue pattern responses (i.e., change from baseline) during a single bout of maximal eccentric exercise. Forty-six subjects (24 women and 22 men) completed 5 sets of 10 maximal eccentric contractions on an isokinetic dynamometer. Maximal voluntary isometric contraction strength was assessed at baseline and immediately following each exercise set. Maximal eccentric torque and contractile properties (i.e., contraction time, work, half relaxation time, and maximal rate of torque development) were calculated for each contraction. Men and women demonstrated similar relative isometric (32% for men and 39% for women) and eccentric (32% for men and 39% for women) fatigue as well as similar deficits in work done and rates of torque development and relaxation during exercise (p > 0.05).Untrained men and women displayed similar relative responses in all measures of muscle function during a single bout of maximal eccentric exercise of the elbow flexors. Thus, there is no reason to suspect that women may be more vulnerable to fatigue-related injury.

Muscle Biology and Imaging Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, Totman Building, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts

Address correspondence to Monica J. Hubal,

© 2008 National Strength and Conditioning Association