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Effects of unilateral isometric strength training on joint angle specificity and cross-training


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of unilateral isometric leg extension strength training on the strength and integrated electromyogram (IEMG) of both the trained and untrained limbs at multiple joint angles. A training (TRN) group [nine women; mean (SD) age, 20(1) years] exercised for 6 weeks with isometric leg extensions at 80% of maximal isometric torque. A control (CTL) group [eight women; 21(1) years] did not exercise. The training was performed three times per week on a Cybex II isokinetic dynamometer at a joint angle where the lever arm was 0.79 rad below the horizontal plane. The subjects were tested pre- and posttraining for maximal unilateral isometric torque in both limbs at joint angles of zero, 0.26, 0.79,1.31, and 1.57 rad below the horizontal plane. Bipolar surface electrodes were used to record the IEMG of the vastus lateralis (VL) and vastus medialis (VM) during the isometric tests. Three univariate (torque, IEMG-VL, and IEMG-VM) four-way (group x time x limb x angle) mixed factorial ANOVAs were used to analyze the data. The results indicated joint angle specificity for isometric torque in the TRN group only, with significant increases in torque at 0.79 (P = 0.0004) and 1.31 (P = 0.0039) rad. No significant increases in torque were found in the untrained limb of the TRN group or in either limb of the CTL group. Similarly, there were no significant changes in IEMG as a result of the training for the VL or VM. The joint-angle-specific strength increases without concomitant increases in IEMG were hypothesized to result from joint-angle-specific decreases in antagonistic co-contraction and/or preferential hypertropy of the quadriceps femoris at specific levels of the muscle group.

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Correspondence to Joseph P. Weir.

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Weir, J.P., Housh, T.J., Weir, L.L. et al. Effects of unilateral isometric strength training on joint angle specificity and cross-training. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 70, 337–343 (1995).

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Key words

  • Electromyography
  • Resistance training