Differences in Lower Limb Strength and Structure After 12 Weeks of Resistance, Endurance, and Concurrent Training

Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2020 Mar 25;1-8. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2019-0788. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: To investigate strength and structural adaptations after 12 weeks of resistance, endurance cycling, and concurrent training.

Methods: Thirty-two healthy males undertook 12 weeks of resistance-only (RT; n = 10), endurance-only (END; n = 10), or concurrent resistance and endurance training (CONC; n = 12). Biceps femoris long head (BFlh) architecture, strength (3-lift 1-repetition maximum), and body composition were assessed.

Results: Fascicle length of the BFlh reduced 15% (6%) (P < .001) and 9% (6%) (P < .001) in the END and CONC groups postintervention, with no change in the RT group (-4% [11%], P = .476). All groups increased BFlh pennation angle (CONC: 18% [9%], RT: 14% [8%], and END: 18% [10%]). Thickness of the BFlh increased postintervention by 7% (6%) (P = .002) and 7% (7%) (P = .003) in the CONC and RT groups, respectively, but not in the END group (0% [3%], P = .994). Both the CONC and RT groups significantly increased by 27% (11%) (P < .001) and 33% (12%) (P < .001) in 3-lift totals following the intervention, with no changes in the END cohort (6% [6%], P = .166). No significant differences were found for total body (CONC: 4% [2%], RT: 4% [2%], and END: 3% [2%]) and leg (CONC: 5% [3%], RT: 6% [3%], and END: 5% [3%]) fat-free mass.

Conclusions: Twelve weeks of RT, END, or CONC significantly modified BFlh architecture. This study suggests that conventional resistance training may dampen BFlh fascicle shortening from cycling training while increasing strength simultaneously in concurrent training. Furthermore, the inclusion of a cycle endurance training stimulus may result in alterations to hamstring architecture that increase the risk of future injury. Therefore, the incorporation of endurance cycling training within concurrent training paradigms should be reevaluated when trying to modulate injury risk.

Keywords: cycling; fascicle length; hamstring; muscle injury.