European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 112, Issue 4, pp 1587–1592 | Cite as

Similar increases in muscle size and strength in young men after training with maximal shortening or lengthening contractions when matched for total work

  • Daniel R. MooreEmail author
  • Mark Young
  • Stuart M. Phillips
Short Communication


Training exclusively with eccentric (lengthening) contractions can result in greater muscular adaptations than training with concentric (shortening) contractions. We aimed to determine whether training-induced increases in muscle size and strength differed between muscles performing maximal lengthening (LC) or maximal shortening (SC) contractions when total external work is equivalent. Nine healthy young males completed a 9-week isokinetic (0.79 rad/s) resistance training program of the elbow flexors whereby they performed LC with one arm and an equivalent volume of total external work with the contralateral arm as SC. Training increased isometric peak torque for both LC (~10%) and SC (~20%) with no difference (P = 0.14) between conditions. There were also similar increases in isokinetic peak torque at both slow (0.79 rad/s) and fast (5.24 rad/s) shortening and lengthening peak torque for both LC (~8–10%) and SC (~9–20%). Training increased work per repetition similarly for both LC (~17%) and SC (~22%), in spite of ~40% greater work per repetition with LC. The increase in muscle cross-sectional area with training was also similar (P = 0.37) between LC (~6.5%) and SC (~4.6%). We conclude that increases in muscle size and strength with short-term unilateral resistance training are unrelated to muscle contraction type when matched for both exercise intensity (i.e. maximal contractions) and total external work.


Eccentric Muscle Hypertrophy Strength Training Muscle damage 



We would like to thank the participants for their time and effort during the study. DRM was supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Canada Graduate Scholarship. Funding for the study was provided by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada research grant awarded to SMP.

Conflicts of interest

These authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.


  1. Amiridis IG, Martin A, Morlon B, Martin L, Cometti G, Pousson M, Van HJ (1996) Co-activation and tension-regulating phenomena during isokinetic knee extension in sedentary and highly skilled humans. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 73:149–156PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Babault N, Pousson M, Ballay Y, Van HJ (2001) Activation of human quadriceps femoris during isometric, concentric, and eccentric contractions. J Appl Physiol 91:2628–2634PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Behm DG, Whittle J, Button D, Power K (2002) Intermuscle differences in activation. Muscle Nerve 25:236–243PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beltman JG, Sargeant AJ, van Mechelen MW, de Haan HA (2004) Voluntary activation level and muscle fiber recruitment of human quadriceps during lengthening contractions. J Appl Physiol 97:619–626PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blazevich AJ, Cannavan D, Coleman DR, Horne S (2007) Influence of concentric and eccentric resistance training on architectural adaptation in human quadriceps muscles. J Appl Physiol 103:1565–1575PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burd NA, Holwerda AM, Selby KC, West DW, Staples AW, Cain NE, Cashaback JG, Potvin JR, Baker SK, Phillips SM (2010a) Resistance exercise volume affects myofibrillar protein synthesis and anabolic signalling molecule phosphorylation in young men. J Physiol 588:3119–3130PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burd NA, West DW, Staples AW, Atherton PJ, Baker JM, Moore DR, Holwerda AM, Parise G, Rennie MJ, Baker SK, Phillips SM (2010b) Low-load high volume resistance exercise stimulates muscle protein synthesis more than high-load low volume resistance exercise in young men. PLoS One 5:e12033PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Charteris J (1999) Effects of velocity on upper to lower extremity muscular work and power output ratios of intercollegiate athletes. Br J Sports Med 33:250–254PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Farthing JP, Chilibeck PD (2003a) The effect of eccentric training at different velocities on cross-education. Eur J Appl Physiol 89:570–577PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Farthing JP, Chilibeck PD (2003b) The effects of eccentric and concentric training at different velocities on muscle hypertrophy. Eur J Appl Physiol 89:578–586PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gordon CL, Webber CE, Beaumont LF (2003) Accuracy and precision error of muscle cross-sectional area measured using peripheral quantitative computed tomography in adults. J Bone Miner Res 18(Suppl. 2):S333Google Scholar
  12. Hartman JW, Tang JE, Wilkinson SB, Tarnopolsky MA, Lawrence RL, Fullerton AV, Phillips SM (2007) Consumption of fat-free fluid milk after resistance exercise promotes greater lean mass accretion than does consumption of soy or carbohydrate in young, novice, male weightlifters. Am J Clin Nutr 86:373–381PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Higbie EJ, Cureton KJ, Warren GL III, Prior BM (1996) Effects of concentric and eccentric training on muscle strength, cross-sectional area, and neural activation. J Appl Physiol 81:2173–2181PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Hortobagyi T, Barrier J, Beard D, Braspennincx J, Koens P, Devita P, Dempsey L, Lambert J (1996a) Greater initial adaptations to submaximal muscle lengthening than maximal shortening. J Appl Physiol 81:1677–1682PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Hortobagyi T, Hill JP, Houmard JA, Fraser DD, Lambert NJ, Israel RG (1996b) Adaptive responses to muscle lengthening and shortening in humans. J Appl Physiol 80:765–772PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Hortobagyi T, Dempsey L, Fraser D, Zheng D, Hamilton G, Lambert J, Dohm L (2000) Changes in muscle strength, muscle fibre size and myofibrillar gene expression after immobilization and retraining in humans. J Physiol 524(Pt 1):293–304PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hubal MJ, Gordish-Dressman H, Thompson PD, Price TB, Hoffman EP, Angelopoulos TJ, Gordon PM, Moyna NM, Pescatello LS, Visich PS, Zoeller RF, Seip RL, Clarkson PM (2005) Variability in muscle size and strength gain after unilateral resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 37:964–972PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jones DA, Rutherford OM (1987) Human muscle strength training: the effects of three different regimens and the nature of the resultant changes. J Physiol 391:1–11PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Moore DR, Phillips SM, Babraj JA, Smith K, Rennie MJ (2005) Myofibrillar and collagen protein synthesis in human skeletal muscle in young men after maximal shortening and lengthening contractions. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 288:E1153–E1159PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Moore DR, Robinson MJ, Fry JL, Tang JE, Glover EI, Wilkinson SB, Prior T, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM (2009) Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. Am J Clin Nutr 89:161–168PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Munn J, Herbert RD, Gandevia SC (2004) Contralateral effects of unilateral resistance training: a meta-analysis. J Appl Physiol 96:1861–1866PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Nardone A, Romano C, Schieppati M (1989) Selective recruitment of high-threshold human motor units during voluntary isotonic lengthening of active muscles. J Physiol 409:451–471PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Roig M, O’Brien K, Kirk G, Murray R, McKinnon P, Shadgan B, Reid WD (2009) The effects of eccentric versus concentric resistance training on muscle strength and mass in healthy adults: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med 43:556–568PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ryschon TW, Fowler MD, Wysong RE, Anthony A, Balaban RS (1997) Efficiency of human skeletal muscle in vivo: comparison of isometric, concentric, and eccentric muscle action. J Appl Physiol 83:867–874PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Sale DG (1988) Neural adaptation to resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 20:S135–S145PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Seger JY, Arvidsson B, Thorstensson A (1998) Specific effects of eccentric and concentric training on muscle strength and morphology in humans. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 79:49–57PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Shepstone TN, Tang JE, Dallaire S, Schuenke MD, Staron RS, Phillips SM (2005) Short-term high- vs. low-velocity isokinetic lengthening training results in greater hypertrophy of the elbow flexors in young men. J Appl Physiol 98:1768–1776PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Smith RC, Rutherford OM (1995) The role of metabolites in strength training. I. A comparison of eccentric and concentric contractions. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 71:332–336PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Vikne H, Refsnes PE, Ekmark M, Medbo JI, Gundersen V, Gundersen K (2006) Muscular performance after concentric and eccentric exercise in trained men. Med Sci Sports Exerc 38:1770–1781PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wernbom M, Augustsson J, Thomee R (2007) The influence of frequency, intensity, volume and mode of strength training on whole muscle cross-sectional area in humans. Sports Med 37:225–264PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. West DW, Burd NA, Staples AW, Phillips SM (2010a) Human exercise-mediated skeletal muscle hypertrophy is an intrinsic process. Int J Biochem Cell Biol 42:1371–1375PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. West DW, Burd NA, Tang JE, Moore DR, Staples AW, Holwerda AM, Baker SK, Phillips SM (2010b) Elevations in ostensibly anabolic hormones with resistance exercise enhance neither training-induced muscle hypertrophy nor strength of the elbow flexors. J Appl Physiol 108:60–67PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wilkinson SB, Tarnopolsky MA, Macdonald MJ, Macdonald JR, Armstrong D, Phillips SM (2007) Consumption of fluid skim milk promotes greater muscle protein accretion after resistance exercise than does consumption of an isonitrogenous and isoenergetic soy-protein beverage. Am J Clin Nutr 85:1031–1040PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel R. Moore
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mark Young
    • 1
  • Stuart M. Phillips
    • 1
  1. 1.Exercise Metabolism Research Group, Department of KinesiologyMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

Personalised recommendations