081016 Studies that have benefited strength athletes

081016 Studies that have benefited strength athletes

As far back as 1985, scientists were examining the force-velocity curve and its effect on maximizing muscle power output.

In one such study scientists in Finland examined the neural activation relationship between isometric force and relaxation time of the human muscle fiber characteristics in eleven males who were accustomed to strength training.

Beginning with a baseline test these eleven males started the training protocol. The intensities varied from 70 to 120% 1RM of the leg extension. I know I can hear you all saying “what a useless exercise”, but for scientific purposes, it has its place, so bear with me on this.

The first twelve weeks of intense training

The fast twitch fibers became larger during this period and the athlete’s strength grew by 26.8% over their tested 1RM. This strength increase, correlated with higher electromyography[1] readings indicating greater neural input into the active muscle fibers.

The second twelve weeks of detraining

There were no hypertrophic changes to the muscle fibers during this phase of the experiment. However, there was a slight tapering effect noticed for a short time after beginning the detraining portion of the study. This was short lived and the usual after effects of detraining soon became apparent.

It was found during the time span that maximal strength declined greatly as did the EMG readings. In retrospect, this should have been expected because the cross-sectional area of the muscle fibers decreased during the twelve weeks of detraining.

The scientists concluded that strength improvements may be attributed to neural factors during high intense training. Even though a certain amount of hypertrophy took place the conclusions were this greater muscle mass may have limitations in the long run for highly trained athletes.

[1]Electromyography (EMG) is a test that checks the health of the muscles and the nerves that control the muscles