Effects of plyometric and isometric training on muscle and tendon stiffness in vivo

Physiol Rep. 2017 Aug;5(15):e13374. doi: 10.14814/phy2.13374.


The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of plyometric and isometric training on tendon properties during ramp and ballistic contractions and muscle stiffness under passive and active conditions. Eleven subjects completed 12 weeks (3 days/week) of a unilateral training program for the plantar flexors. They performed plyometric training on one side (PLY) and isometric training on the other side (ISO). Active muscle stiffness in the medial gastrocnemius muscle was calculated according to changes in estimated muscle force and fascicle length during fast stretching after submaximal isometric contractions. Passive muscle stiffness was also calculated from estimated passive muscle force and fascicle length during slow passive stretching. Stiffness and hysteresis of tendon structures were measured using ultrasonography during ramp and ballistic contractions. Passive muscle stiffness and tendon hysteresis did not change for PLY or ISO Active muscle stiffness significantly increased for PLY, but not for ISO Tendon stiffness during ramp and ballistic contractions increased significantly for ISO, but not for PLY In addition, tendon elongation values at force production levels beyond 100 N during ballistic contractions increased for PLY These results suggest that plyometric training (but not isometric training) enhances the extensibility of tendon structures during ballistic contractions and active muscle stiffness during fast stretching, and these changes may be related to improved performances during stretch-shortening cycle exercises.

Keywords: Fascicle; plantar flexion; tendon structures.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Plyometric Exercise*
  • Tendons / physiology*
  • Young Adult