Objective: To evaluate muscle bioenergetics, muscle cross-sectional area (CSA), and soreness when the gastrocnemius was subjected to concentric and concentric/eccentric resistance training modes.
Design: Prospective study, before and after training. The subjects served as their own controls.
Setting: Rehabilitation center and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy unit of a university hospital.
Participants: Sixteen healthy young volunteers from the local physiotherapist school.
Intervention: Two distinct resistive training programs were evaluated on the gastrocnemius: a protocol consisting of concentric contractions only and a mixed concentric/eccentric program.
Main outcome measures: Maximal isometric resistance was measured after each training session. Before and after training, muscle CSA was appreciated using magnetic resonance imaging, whereas changes in muscle pH, phosphorus metabolite ratios, maximal oxidative power (Pmax), and oxidative phosphorylation were studied using 31P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy at rest and during an incremental exercise protocol.
Results: Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a significant increase (7.1%) in the gastrocnemius CSA in the concentric-eccentric group only. The PCr/Pi (8.3 +/- 0.9 vs 10.4 +/- 1.7) and PCr/ATP (3.68 +/- .36 vs 4.07 +/- .27) resting ratios increased significantly (p = .008) after concentric-eccentric resistance training. Pmax was significantly improved in the concentric-eccentric group (7.0 +/- 2.1W vs 8.4 +/- 1.8W: p < .02). This mixed protocol also reduced the incidence of muscular soreness.
Conclusion: The data suggest that the improved oxidative mechanical power output could be due mainly to a greater muscle cross-section in the concentric-eccentric group, with circumstantial evidence suggesting a relatively higher type IIa fiber activity.