The present study's aim was to evaluate muscle activity during leg exercises using elastic vs. isoinertial resistance at different exertion and loading levels, respectively. Twenty-four women and eighteen men aged 26-67 years volunteered to participate in the experiment. Electromyographic (EMG) activity was recorded in nine muscles during a standardized forward lunge movement performed with dumbbells and elastic bands during (1) ballistic vs. controlled exertion, and (2) at low, medium and high loads (33%, 66% and 100% of 10 RM, respectively). The recorded EMG signals were normalized to MVC EMG. Knee joint angle was measured using electronic inclinometers. The following results were obtained. Loading intensity affected EMG amplitude in the order: low<medium<high loads (p<.001). Ballistic contractions always produced greater EMG activity than slow controlled contractions, and for most muscles ballistic contractions with medium load showed similar EMG amplitude as controlled contractions with high load. At flexed knee joint positions with elastic resistance, quadriceps and gluteus EMG amplitude during medium-load ballistic contractions exceeded that recorded during high-load controlled contractions. Quadriceps and gluteus EMG amplitude increased at flexed knee positions. In contrast, hamstrings EMG amplitude remained constant throughout ROM during dumbbell lunge, but increased at more extended knee joint positions during lunges using elastic resistance. Based on these results, it can be concluded that lunges performed using medium-load ballistic muscle contractions may induce similar or even higher leg muscle activity than lunges using high-load slow-speed contractions. Consequently, lunges using elastic resistance appear to be equally effective in inducing high leg muscle activity as traditional lunges using isoinertial resistance.
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