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Hormonal adaptation determines the increase in muscle mass and strength during low-intensity strength training without relaxation


The study was designed to test the hypothesis that, during strength training, a restricted blood supply to the working muscles stimulates the secretion of anabolic hormones and an increase in the muscle mass and strength can be achieved with significantly lower training loads. During eight weeks, three times a week, 18 young, physically active males trained their leg extensor muscles. Nine subjects (group I) worked at 80% of the maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), whereas the rest (group II) performed their exercise without relaxation and at a lower load (50% MVC). The total training load in group II was significantly lower than in group I (77 ± 5 vs. 157 ± 7 kJ, respectively). The eight-week training of both groups significantly increased the mean maximum strength (by 35 and 21% in groups I and II, respectively) and volume (by 17 and 9%, respectively) of the muscles trained (however, the differences between the groups with respect to these changes were nonsignificant). Group I displayed a higher increase in the blood level of creatine phosphokinase than group II, while group II showed a greater increase in the blood concentration of lactate. In contrast to group I, group II displayed a significant increase in the blood concentrations of growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), and cortisol. Hence, the suggestion that the secretion of metabolic hormones is triggered by a metabolic, rather than mechanical, stimulus from working muscles seems plausible.

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Original Russian Text © D.V. Popov, D.V. Swirkun, A.I. Netreba, O.S. Tarasova, A.B. Prostova, I.M. Larina, A.S. Borovik, O.L. Vinogradova, 2006, published in Fiziologiya Cheloveka, 2006, Vol. 32, No. 5, pp. 121–127.

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Popov, D.V., Swirkun, D.V., Netreba, A.I. et al. Hormonal adaptation determines the increase in muscle mass and strength during low-intensity strength training without relaxation. Hum Physiol 32, 609–614 (2006).

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  • Maximal Voluntary Contraction
  • Strength Training
  • Eccentric Exercise
  • Training Load
  • Strength Exercise