Central versus peripheral adaptations following eccentric resistance training

M Pensini, A Martin, N A Maffiuletti
International Journal of Sports Medicine 2002, 23 (8): 567-74
Aim of the present investigation was to study the effects of an eccentric training on the neuromuscular properties of the plantar-flexor muscles. The experiment was carried out on 14 males divided into two groups (eccentric and control). Eccentric training consisted of six sets of six eccentric contractions at 120 % of one maximal concentric repetition and it was performed four times a week during four weeks. Before and after the 4-wk period, the plantar-flexor torque and the associated electromyographic activity were recorded during voluntary contractions (isometric, concentric and eccentric) and electrically induced contractions (twitch and tetanus), in order to distinguish central from peripheral adaptations. For the eccentric group, voluntary torque significantly increased after training independent of the action mode (relative gains 14 - 30 %, p < 0.05). This was associated with an increase in agonist EMG activity during isometric action and a decrease in antagonist coactivation in concentric (-27 %) and eccentric actions (-22 %) (p < 0.05). Voluntary activation level significantly increased from 80 +/- 5 % to 91 +/- 2 % (p < 0.05). Some of the twitch contractile properties (peak torque and maximal rate of twitch tension relaxation) were significantly modified (p < 0.05), but no changes were observed for the tetanus characteristics. These results allowed to conclude that the torque gains observed after the present training were more likely associated to central adaptations, affecting both agonist and antagonist muscles.

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