Association between regional differences in muscle activation in one session of resistance exercise and in muscle hypertrophy after resistance training
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The purpose of this study was to examine if the regional difference in muscle hypertrophy after chronic resistance training is associated with muscle activation after one session of resistance exercise. Twelve men performed one session of resistance exercise of elbow extensors. Before and immediately after the exercise, transverse relaxation time (T2)-weighted magnetic resonance (MR) images of upper arm were recorded to evaluate the muscle activation along its length. In the MR images, T2 for the pixels within the triceps brachii muscle was quantified. The number of pixels with T2 greater than the threshold (mean + 1SD of T2 before the exercise) was expressed as the ratio to the number of pixels occupied by the muscle (%activated area). Another 12 subjects completed 12 weeks of training intervention (3 days per week), which consisted of the same program variables as used in the experiment for the T2 measurement. The cross-sectional areas of the triceps brachii before and after the training intervention were measured from MR images of upper arm. The %activated area of the triceps brachii induced by one session of the exercise was found to be significantly lower in the distal region than the middle and proximal regions. Similarly, the relative increase in muscle cross-sectional area after the 12 weeks of training intervention was significantly less in the distal region than the middle and proximal regions. The results suggest that the regional difference in muscle hypertrophy after chronic resistance training is attributable to the regional difference in muscle activation during the exercise.