Purpose: To compare magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) signal intensity changes in the primary elbow flexors during two isotonic exercise protocols varying in eccentric velocity and the ratio of eccentric to concentric activity.
Methods: Twelve men performed two exercise protocols. The right and left arms were randomly assigned to one of two protocols that had the same workload (60% 1RM) and same total time of exercise (144 s) but differed in the velocity and ratio of eccentric to concentric activity (1:1 and 5:1 for the fast and slow protocols, respectively). MRI signal intensity changes were quantified pre- and post-exercises using an inversion recovery sequence with a 1.5T MRI system (TR = 2500 ms, TE = 90 ms, TI = 140 ms). Percent change in MRI signal intensity, rate of perceived exertion (RPE), and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) were recorded and analyzed.
Results: The biceps brachii was found to be preferentially recruited during the fast protocol compared with the brachialis, whereas the brachialis was found to be preferentially recruited during the slow protocol (P < 0.05). The fast exercise protocol was perceived as being more strenuous (RPE = 8.3 +/- 2.1) than the slow (RPE = 5.4 +/- 1.5, P < 0.05) and produced DOMS in 58% of the tested subjects.
Conclusions: These results suggest that agonists respond to various loading conditions nonhomogeneously. These findings may have implications with respect to exercise prescriptions for specific muscles.