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. 2016 Apr;26(4):375-83.
doi: 10.1111/sms.12445. Epub 2015 Mar 24.

Is Repetition Failure Critical for the Development of Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength?

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Is Repetition Failure Critical for the Development of Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength?

J A Sampson et al. Scand J Med Sci Sports. .

Abstract

This investigation sought to determine the effect of resistance training to failure on functional, structural and neural elbow flexor muscle adaptation. Twenty-eight males completed a 4-week familiarization period and were then counterbalanced on the basis of responsiveness across; non-failure rapid shortening (RS; rapid concentric, 2 s eccentric), non-failure stretch-shortening (SSC; rapid concentric, rapid eccentric), and failure control (C, 2 s concentric, 2 s eccentric), for a 12-week unilateral elbow flexor resistance training regimen, 3 × week using 85% of one repetition maximum (1RM). 1RM, maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), muscle cross-sectional area (CSA), and muscle activation (EMG(RMS)) of the agonist, antagonist, and stabilizer muscles were assessed before and after the 12-week training period. The average number of repetitions per set was significantly lower in RS 4.2 [confidence interval (CI): 4.2, 4.3] and SSC 4.2 (CI: 4.2, 4.3) compared with C 6.1 (CI: 5.8, 6.4). A significant increase in 1RM (30.5%), MVC (13.3%), CSA (11.4%), and agonist EMG(RMS) (22.1%) was observed; however, no between-group differences were detected. In contrast, antagonist EMG(RMS) increased significantly in SSC (40.5%) and C (23.3%), but decreased in RS (13.5%). Similar adaptations across the three resistance training regimen suggest repetition failure is not critical to elicit significant neural and structural changes to skeletal muscle.

Keywords: Resistance training; electromyography; fatigue; neural; one repetition maximum; velocity.

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