Inhomogeneous Quadriceps Femoris Hypertrophy in Response to Strength and Power Training

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015 Nov;47(11):2389-97. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000669.


Introduction: Previous studies have reported inhomogeneous changes in quadriceps femoris (QF) cross-sectional area (CSA) in response to strength training. It is assumed that these differential changes in muscle shape influence the muscle's functional capacity during high-force and high-power movements. The purpose of the current study was to compare intermuscular and intramuscular QF adaptations to high-load strength training and fast-speed power training.

Methods: Thirty-six non-strength-trained men were randomly assigned to four groups and completed 8 wk of parallel-depth heavy squat-lift training (HS-P), parallel-depth jump squat training (JS-P), volitional-depth jump squat training (JS-V), or no training (C). Quadriceps femoris, vastus lateralis (VL), intermedius (VI), medialis (VM), and rectus femoris (RF) CSA were measured in distal-, mid-, and proximal-thigh regions using extended field-of-view ultrasonography and compared using a 3 × 2 mixed-model MANOVA with Bonferroni post hoc tests (P < 0.05).

Results: Parallel-depth heavy squat-lift training and JS-P elicited similar changes in mid-CSA(QF) as well as summed CSA of the QF, VL, VI, and VM. Cross-sectional area of the VL (CSA(VL)) and CSA(VI) increased in both HS-P and JS-P at mid-thigh, but only JS-P significantly increased CSA proximally, and only HS-P significantly increased CSA distally. Cross-sectional area of the VM (CSA(VM)) increased in HS-P and JS-P distally, but only HS-P increased at mid-thigh. No hypertrophy was observed in RF at any location and no significant differences were observed between JS-P and JS-V. Parallel-depth heavy squat-lift training elicited greater proximal hypertrophy in each of the vasti muscles, whereas only JS-P elicited distal VL and VI hypertrophy.

Conclusions: These observed inhomogeneous changes in CSA may alter the thigh's moment of inertia and moment arms of muscle "compartments," and the influence of elastic component force transmission on the muscular force expression. Such selective hypertrophy is speculated to be biomechanically beneficial to high-force or high-power movements used in training.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy
  • Knee / diagnostic imaging
  • Knee / physiology
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Quadriceps Muscle / anatomy & histology
  • Quadriceps Muscle / diagnostic imaging
  • Quadriceps Muscle / physiology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Ultrasonography
  • Young Adult