Frontiers in Physiology
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research
Edith Cowan University, Post-graduate Research Support Scholarship programme
This study examined whether changes in strength following a moderate-duration strength training program were associated with changes in specific combinations of anatomical and neuromuscular variables. 36 men (18–40 y) completed 10 weeks of lower-limb heavy resistance (6-RM) strength training. Measurements included cross-sectional area (CSA), fascicle length (lf) and fascicle angle (θf) from proximal, middle and distal regions of the four quadriceps components; agonist (EMG:M), antagonist (EMG) muscle activities and percent voluntary quadriceps activation (%VA; interpolated twitch technique); patellar tendon moment arm distance; and maximal isometric, concentric and eccentric (60° s–1) torque. Multiple regression models were developed to quantify the relationship between the change in maximum torque and the changes in combinations of anatomical and neuromuscular variables. The best model for each contraction mode was determined using Akaike’s Information Criterion (AICc), an information-theoretic approach for model selection. Strength increased significantly following training (mean range = 12.5–17.2%), and moderate relationships were observed between modeled data (using best-fit prediction models) and the change in torque for each contraction mode. The change in isometric torque was best (although weakly) predicted by the linear combination of the change in proximal-region vastus lateralis (VL) CSA and fascicle angle (R2 = 0.27, p < 0.05; AICcwi = 0.52, i.e., the probability the model would be selected as the “best model”). The models best predicting the change in concentric and eccentric torque both included the combination of the change in quadriceps (i.e., mean of all muscles) EMG:M and the change in vastus intermedius fascicle angle combined with either a change in proximal-region VL (R2 = 0.40, p < 0.001; AICcwi = 0.15) or whole quadriceps (R2 = 0.41, p < 0.001; AICcwi = 0.30) CSA (concentric and eccentric, respectively). Models incorporating the change in proximal CSA typically received substantial support (AICC < 2) for concentric torque prediction models, and the change in % VA and pre-training moment arm distance had substantial support for use in eccentric torque prediction models. In conclusion, adaptations varied between individuals, however strength training programs targeted to improve a group of variables that particularly includes agonist muscle activation might yield the greatest improvements in concentric and eccentric knee extension strength, whereas proximal muscle size and fascicle angle appear most important for isometric torque improvements.
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