To our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate the effect of training status on recovery energy expenditure in women after RE. Our initial hypothesis was that training experience would result in greater efficiency that would be manifested by decreased energy expenditure during recovery. However, our findings do not support our hypothesis and, indeed, trained women were found to have not only greater energy expenditure immediately after exercise but also slightly greater total energy expenditure during the recovery period. This was unexpected based on previous research by Dolezal et al. (11) and Hackney et al. (19) who evaluated the effect of training status on energy expenditure after RE in young men. These previous studies reported greater oxygen consumption in untrained compared to trained men, although the difference was reported as statistically significant only by Dolezal et al. (11).
The reasons for the difference in our findings are unclear although study design may have an influence. Our study evaluated only the 2-hour period immediately after cessation of exercise, but Dolezal et al. (11) and Hackney et al. (19) did not. Instead, they waited to commence measurement of recovery energy expenditure until 24 hours after RE and then repeated a series of 30-minute measurements at 24-hour intervals for a total of 72 hours of recovery. Furthermore, both previous studies used exercise protocols emphasizing eccentric contractions that are known to result in greater and more prolonged muscle damage than concentric contractions (8,26,29,30). By comparison, the exercise protocol used in our study did not overly emphasize the eccentric phase of contractions and so may not have resulted in as much muscle damage in our subjects.
Our results also differ from previous research regarding training status and recovery after endurance exercise (15,39). Muscle fiber types may offer a possible explanation for this difference. Endurance training increases the percentage of type I muscle fibers (23), whereas resistance training increases type II fibers, especially in women (20). It is possible that the cellular level adaptations that promote aerobic efficiency during recovery are more specific to type I fibers that proliferate in endurance-trained individuals than to type II fibers that are stimulated during RE. Unquestionably, evidence indicates that there are specific and separate metabolic adaptations to resistance training (12) compared to endurance training (21). As a result, muscle protein synthesis may play a role. An acute bout of RE stimulates increased muscle protein synthesis for at least 2 hours after exercise (28), and in recreationally trained subjects, such as the trained women in our study, phosphorylation as a marker of muscle protein synthesis is greater after RE in type II fibers than in type I fibers (41). Thus, the greater energy expenditure after RE in trained women may represent a specific type II muscle fiber response for hypertrophy (45) that would not be expected to occur after endurance exercise.
Our small sample size is an undoubted limitation to our findings. However, our sample was actually larger or equivalent in size to those of previous researchers (11,15,19,39), and our effect sizes were consistently large. Furthermore, a novel characteristic of our study is the use of FFMI as a measure of relative lean mass and evaluation of its effect on energy expenditure. We believe that we are the first to report this relationship. Although we would certainly not characterize our results as conclusive, we would describe them as suggestive. Further research using a longitudinal training design may provide more conclusive results.
This study was supported in part by a faculty research grant from Valdosta State University. There are no conflicts of interest for any of the authors.
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