European Journal of Applied Physiology
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Centre for Human Performance
Connected adaptive resistance exercise (CARE) machines are new equipment purported to adjust resistances within and between repetitions to make eccentric (ECC) overload and drop sets more feasible. Here, we examined muscle strength, endurance, electromyographic activity (EMG), and perceptions of fatigue during unilateral bicep curl exercise with a CARE machine and dumbbells. We also tested for sex differences in muscle fatigability.
Twelve men and nine women attempted 25 consecutive coupled maximal ECC – concentric (CON) repetitions (ECCmax – CONmax) on a CARE machine. Participants also completed a CON one repetition maximum (1RM) and repetitions-to-failure tests with 60 and 80 % 1RM dumbbells.
Maximal strength on the CARE machine was greater during the ECC than CON phase, illustrating ECC overload (men: 27.1 ± 6.8, 14.7 ± 2.0 kg; women: 16.7 ± 4.7, 7.6 ± 1.4 kg). These maximal resistances demanded large neural drive. Biceps brachii EMG amplitude relative to CON dumbbell 1RM EMG was 140.1 ± 40.2 % (ECC) and 96.7 ± 25.0 % (CON) for men and 165.1 ± 61.1 % (ECC) and 89.4 ± 20.4 % (CON) for women. The machine’s drop setting algorithm permitted 25 consecutive maximal effort repetitions without stopping. By comparison, participants completed fewer repetitions-to-failure with the submaximal dumbbells (e.g., 60 % 1RM — men: 12.3 ± 4.4; women: 15.6 ± 4.7 repetitions). By the 25th CARE repetition, participants reported heightened biceps fatigue (~ 8 of 10) and exhibited large decreases in ECC strength (men: 63.5 ± 11.6 %; women: 44.1 ± 8.0 %), CON strength (men: 77.5 ± 6.5 %; women: 62.5 ± 12.8 %), ECC EMG (men: 38.6 ± 20.4 %; women: 26.2 ± 18.3 %), and CON EMG (men: 36.8 ± 20.4 %; women: 23.1 ± 18.4 %).
ECC overload and drop sets occurred automatically and feasibly with CARE technology and caused greater strength and EMG loss in men than women.
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