European Journal of Applied Physiology
School of Medical and Health Sciences
© 2020, The Author(s). Purpose: This study examined whether additional external load during the eccentric phase of lower limb strength training exercises led to greater adaptations in knee extensor strength, muscle architecture, and patellar tendon properties than traditional concentric–eccentric training in already-trained men. Methods: Twenty-eight men accustomed to strength training were randomized to undertake 10 weeks of supervised traditional (TRAD) or accentuated eccentric loading (AEL) or continue their habitual unsupervised (CON) strength training. TRAD and AEL trained 2∙week−1 with a six-repetition maximum (RM) session and a ten-RM session. TRAD used the same external load in both concentric and eccentric phases, while AEL used 40% greater load during the eccentric than concentric phase. Tests were performed at pre- and post-training, including: maximum unilateral isokinetic (30°·s−1) concentric, eccentric and isometric torques by isokinetic dynamometry, unilateral isometric ramp contractions with muscle–tendon ultrasound imaging to measure tendon stiffness and hysteresis, and resting vastus lateralis and medialis fascicle angle and length measured by extended-field-of-view ultrasound. Results: After training, both TRAD and AEL significantly increased maximum concentric and isometric torque (p < 0.05), but only AEL increased eccentric torque (AEL: + 10 ± 9%, TRAD: + 4 ± 9%) and vastus lateralis (AEL: + 14 ± 14%, TRAD: + 1 ± 10%) and medialis (AEL: + 19 ± 8%, TRAD: + 5 ± 11%) fascicle length. Conclusion: Both TRAD and AEL increased maximum knee extensor strength but only AEL increased VL and VM fascicle length. Neither training program promoted changes in fascicle angle or changes in patellar tendon properties in our already-trained men.
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