The effect of strength training on the apparent inhibition of eccentric force production in voluntarily activated human quadriceps
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Ten male and ten female young adults trained the knee extensors of one leg eccentrically and those of the other concentrically for 6 weeks, using a gymnasium leg-extension machine. Before and after training, both legs of each subject were tested isometrically for maximum voluntary knee-extensor force, and in both eccentric and concentric isokinetic modes at 30–250° · s−1. All limbs showed improvements in mean eccentric force (ranging from 18% in the concentrically trained legs of the females to 31% in the eccentrically trained legs of the males, P < 0.01–0.001). Upward trends in isometric and concentric forces were smaller and less- or non-significant. In three of the four groups, mean eccentric forces after training were significantly greater than mean isometric forces, a difference that was not evident before training. Ten further subjects of each gender, not trained but tested isometrically and isokinetically three times in 2 weeks, showed no significant improvement over the series of tests. The explanation suggested is that the increased percentage activation (“decreased inhibition”), often regarded as the main mechanism of strength gain in the early weeks of training, had been displayed particularly in the subjects' eccentric performance. This implies that the activation-shortfall, which is reduced by the initial phase of strength training, is largely or completely the same as that responsible for the fact that untrained, voluntary eccentric force is less than that of isolated muscle.
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