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Neural Contributions to Concentric vs. Eccentric Exercise–Induced Strength Loss

Beck, Travis W; Kasishke, Paul R II; Stock, Matt S; DeFreitas, Jason M

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: March 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 3 - p 633-640
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182474296

Beck, TW, Kasishke II, PR, Stock, MS, and DeFreitas, JM. Neural contributions to concentric vs. eccentric exercise-induced strength loss. J Strength Cond Res 26(3): 633–640, 2012—The purpose of this study was to examine the strength, electromyographic (EMG), and mechanomyographic (MMG) responses after workouts designed to elicit fatigue and muscle damage vs. only fatigue. Thirteen men (mean ± SD age = 23.7 ± 2.2 years) performed 6 sets of 10 maximal concentric isokinetic (CONexercise) or eccentric isokinetic (ECCexercise) muscle actions of the dominant forearm flexors on 2 separate days. Before (PRE) and after (POST) these workouts, peak torque (PT), surface EMG, and MMG signals were measured during maximal concentric isokinetic, eccentric isokinetic, and isometric muscle actions of the forearm flexors. The subjects also visited the laboratory for a control (CTL) visit with quiet resting between the PRE and POST measurements, rather than performing the CONexercise or ECCexercise. The results showed that there were significant 26 and 25% decreases in PT after the CONexercise and ECCexercise, respectively, and these decreases were statistically equivalent for the concentric, eccentric, and isometric muscle actions. There were also 19 and 23% reductions in normalized EMG amplitude after the CONexercise and ECCexercise, respectively, but no changes in EMG mean frequency (MNF), MMG amplitude, or MMG MNF. These findings demonstrated a neural component(s) to the strength decrement after CONexercise and ECCexercise. It is possible that after these 2 types of exercise, activation of free nerve endings that are sensitive to muscle damage and pH changes resulted in inhibition of alpha motor neurons, causing decreased muscle activation and torque. These findings suggest that training programs designed to minimize strength loss during competition should consider the fact that at least some of this loss is because of neural factors.

Department of Health and Exercise Science, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

Address correspondence to Travis W. Beck,

© 2012 National Strength and Conditioning Association