EMG, muscle fibre and force production characteristics during a 1 year training period in elite weight-lifters

Summary

The effects of a 1 year training period on 13 elite weight-lifters were investigated by periodical tests of electromyographic, muscle fibre and force production characteristics. A statistically non-significant increase of 3.5% in maximal isometric strength of the leg extensors, from 4841±1104 to 5010±1012 N, occured over the year. Individual changes in the high force portions of the force-velocity curve correlated (p<0.05–0.01) with changes in weight-lifting performance. Training months 5–8 were characterized by the lowest average training intensity (77.1+2.0%), and this resulted in a significant (p<0.05) decrease in maximal neural activation (IEMG) of the muscles, while the last four month period, with only a slightly higher average training intensity (79.1±3.0%), led to a significant (p<0.01) increase in maximum IEMG. Individual increases in training intensity between these two training periods correlated with individual increases both in muscular strength (p<0.05) and in the weight lifted in the clean & jerk (p<0.05). A non-significant increase of 3.9% in total mean muscle fibre area occurred over the year. The present findings demonstrate the limited potential for strength development in elite strength athletes, and suggest that the magnitudes and time courses of neural and hypertrophic adaptations in the neuromuscular system during their training may differ from those reported for previously untrained subjects. The findings additionally indicate the importance of training intensity for modifying training responses in elite strength athletes.

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Correspondence to Keijo Häkkinen.

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Häkkinen, K., Komi, P.V., Alén, M. et al. EMG, muscle fibre and force production characteristics during a 1 year training period in elite weight-lifters. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 56, 419–427 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00417769

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Key words

  • Neural activation
  • Hypertrophy
  • Training intensity
  • Strength training