Variable resistance training promotes greater fatigue resistance but not hypertrophy versus constant resistance training

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 Sep;113(9):2233-44. doi: 10.1007/s00421-013-2653-4. Epub 2013 May 1.


Loading using variable resistance devices, where the external resistance changes in line with the force:angle relationship, has been shown to cause greater acute neuromuscular fatigue and larger serum hormone responses. This may indicate a greater potential for adaptation during long-term training. Twelve (constant resistance group) and 11 (variable resistance group) men completed 20 weeks of resistance training with 10 men as non-training controls. Training-induced adaptations were assessed by bilateral leg press one repetition maximum, a repetition to failure test using 75 % 1RM, lower limb lean mass and vastus lateralis cross-sectional area. Only the variable resistance training group improved the total number of repetitions (41 ± 46 %) and volume load (52 ± 37 %) during the repetition to failure test (P < 0.05). Similar improvements in maximum strength and hypertrophy of the lower limbs were observed in both training groups. Also, constant and variable resistance 5 × 10RM leg press loadings were performed before and after training in a crossover design. Acute loading-induced responses were assessed by concentric and isometric force, serum hormone concentrations and phosphorylation of intramuscular signalling proteins (0-30 min post-loading). Greater acute decreases in force (P < 0.05-0.01), and greater increases in serum testosterone and cortisol concentration (P < 0.05) and ERK 1/2 phosphorylation (P < 0.05) were observed following variable resistance loadings before and after training. Greater training-induced improvements in fatigue resistance occurred in the variable resistance training group, which may be due to greater acute fatigue and physiological responses during variable versus constant resistance loadings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Fatigue / blood
  • Fatigue / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hypertrophy / blood
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Leg / physiology
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Quadriceps Muscle / pathology
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Testosterone
  • Hydrocortisone