Effect of isometric strength training on mechanical, electrical, and metabolic aspects of muscle function

Summary

Monozygous twin pairs (two female and four male) were used in a strength training study so that one member of each pair served as training subject (TS) and the other members as nonexercising controls (CS). TS trained four times a week for 12 weeks with maximal isometric knee extensions of the right leg. The parameters studied included muscle strength, endurance time, electromyographic activity, and activities of several key enzymes in nonoxidative and oxidative muscle metabolism. The results disclosed that in addition to a 20% increase in isometric knee extension strength in the trained leg of TS, an average increase of 11% was observed in strength of TS untrained leg. CS did not demonstrate any change in muscle strength. Training also included an improvement in the maintenance of a static load of 60% of the pretraining maximum. Increase in the maximum integrated electromyographic activity (IEMG) of the rectus femoris muscle occurred concomitantly with the knee extension strength. Training also caused reduction in the IEMG/tension ratio at submaximal loads indicating a more economical usage of the rectus femoris muscle. Muscle biopsies taken from the vastus lateralis muscle showed that the enzyme activities of MDH, SDH, and HK were higher, and LDH and CPK lower in the trained leg as compared to the nontrained control leg of TS or to the values of the untrained member of the twin pair. It is concluded that isometric strength training as used in the present study can cause increased recruitment of the available motor unit pool, improved efficiency at submaximal loads, and surprisingly also enchancement of the oxidative metabolism in the muscle.

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Correspondence to P. V. Komi.

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This study was supported in part by a grant (9287/79/72) from the Ministry of Education (Finland)

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Komi, P.V., Viitasalo, J.T., Rauramaa, R. et al. Effect of isometric strength training on mechanical, electrical, and metabolic aspects of muscle function. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 40, 45–55 (1978). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00420988

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Key words

  • Strength training
  • Electromyography
  • Twins
  • Enzyme activities
  • Fatigue