, Volume 108, Issue 6, pp 1065-1074
Date: 15 Dec 2009

The repeated bout effect of eccentric exercise is not associated with changes in voluntary activation

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The aim of this study was to compare the possible changes in muscle activation level between a first and second bout of damaging eccentric exercise performed at 2 weeks interval (i.e. repeated bout effect). To that purpose, ten physically active males took part in this study. The eccentric exercise consisted of 10 sets of 12 maximal voluntary contractions (MVC) produced by the knee extensors during movements performed at a constant speed of 160°s−1. Changes in voluntary and electrically evoked torque in concentric and/or isometric conditions were assessed at the following time points: pre-exercise, and 2 min, 1 and 24 h after each eccentric exercise. At the same time points, voluntary activation was quantified by the superimposed electrical stimulation technique. Muscle soreness and plasma CK activity were measured within 48 h after the eccentric exercise. The results showed that the decrease in eccentric peak torque was linear throughout the exercise protocol. At the end of bouts 1 and 2, torque was significantly reduced by 27.7 ± 9.1 and 23.4 ± 11.2, respectively, with no difference between bouts (P > 0.05). At 24 h post-exercise, a lower reduction (P < 0.05) in MVC (17.8 ± 5.4%) and electrically evoked (16.7 ± 4.6%) isometric torque was observed for bout 2. In contrast, no statistical difference was found in the deficit in voluntary activation between the two bouts. In conclusion, our results indicate that the repeated bout effect of eccentric exercise appears to reduce muscle damage, but does not influence the level of voluntary activation.