The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effect of contrasting training modalities on mechanical muscle performance and neuromuscular activity during maximal SSC (stretch-shortening cycle) countermovement jumps (CMJ). Bilateral countermovement jumping, surface electromyography (EMG) and muscle fiber size (CSA) were studied in untrained individuals (n=49, 21-45 yrs) pre and post 12 weeks of progressive heavy-resistance strength training (ST, n=8), recreational soccer training (SOC, n=15), high-intensity interval running (INT, n=7), continuous running (RUN, n=9) or continuation of an inactive life-style (CON, n=10). ST displayed shortened CMJ take-off time (p<.05) and increased (p<.05) maximal CMJ jump height, peak down- and upward velocity of center of mass (COM), rate of vertical force development (RFD: ΔF(Z)/Δt), peak power production, rate of power development (RPD), mean plantar flexor EMG and peak hamstring rate of EMG rise (RER). Peak quadriceps EMG rate of rise increased in SOC (p<.05). Moreover, ST and SOC demonstrated increased quadriceps muscle fiber CSA and lean leg mass. Positive relationships (r>.70) were observed following ST between training-induced changes in CMJ SSC muscle performance, neuromuscular activity and muscle fiber CSA, respectively. ST induced a more rapid CMJ take-off phase and elevated muscle power production, indicating a more explosive-type SSC muscle performance. No effects were detected in CMJ performance after continuous running, high-intensity interval running and recreational soccer, despite an increased muscle fiber CSA and quadriceps muscle activity in SOC. Enhanced neuromuscular activity in the hip extensors (hamstrings) and plantar flexors, and increased myofiber fiber size were responsible for the enhanced CMJ SSC muscle performance with ST.
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