Reduced muscle lengthening during eccentric contractions as a mechanism underpinning the repeated-bout effect
American Physiological Society
School of Exercise and Health Sciences / Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research
This study investigated biceps brachii distal myotendinous junction (MTJ) displacement during maximal eccentric elbow flexor contractions to test the hypothesis that muscle length change would be smaller (less MTJ displacement) during the second than the first exercise bout. Ten untrained men performed two eccentric exercise bouts (ECC1 and ECC2) with the same arm consisting of 10 sets of six maximal isokinetic (60°/s) eccentric elbow flexor contractions separated by 4 wk. Biceps brachii distal MTJ displacement was assessed using B-mode ultrasonography, and changes in the displacement (muscle length change) from the start to the end of each contraction during each set and over 10 sets were compared between bouts by two-way repeated-measures ANOVA. Several indirect muscle damage markers were also measured and compared between bouts by two-way repeated-measures ANOVA. The magnitude of MTJ displacement (average of six contractions) increased from set 1 (8.2 ± 4.7 mm) to set 10 (16.4 ± 4.7 mm) during ECC1 (P < 0.05), but no significant changes over sets were evident during ECC2 (set 1: 8.5 ± 4.0 mm; set 10: 9.3 ± 3.1 mm). Changes in maximal voluntary isometric contraction strength, range of motion, muscle thickness, ultrasound echo intensity, serum creatine kinase activity, and muscle soreness (visual analog scale) were smaller (P < 0.05) following ECC2 than ECC1, showing less damage in the repeated bout. These results indicate that the magnitude of muscle lengthening was less during the second than the first eccentric exercise bout, which appears to be a mechanism underpinning the repeated-bout effect.