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Neuro-Mechanical Analysis of Eccentric Overload of Elbow Flexors



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Eccentric overload in training settings utilizes loads higher than concentric one repetition maximum (1RM). There is no clear definition of eccentric “failure” or 1RM using conventional weights, so eccentric 1RM is estimated to be between 145-190% concentric 1RM. Historically, the highest intensity used for eccentric overload is typically 120% of concentric 1RM despite little research using conventional weights with higher eccentric intensities. The purpose of this study was to conduct an exploratory neuro-mechanical analysis of different intensities of elbow flexors eccentric overload using free weights by examining angular kinematics during contraction. Twenty male participants with weight training experience had unilateral concentration curl isometric peak torque assessed on a Humac Norm Dynamometer and concentric 1RM assessed with dumbbells while biceps brachii electromyography (EMG) and elbow joint angle were recorded. Angles were recorded using a custom made electrogoniometer and elbow joint torque was estimated using inverse dynamics. Participants were randomly assigned in counter balanced order to perform eccentric actions at 120%, 140%, 150%, 160% and 170% concentric 1RM with 4 minutes rest between. Variables included peak torque, angular velocity at peak torque, impulse, power, mean EMG, and EMG normalized to peak. Data were analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA or a Friedman test. Angular velocity at peak torque was significantly lower for 120% (65.3 ± 40.8°/s) compared to all other conditions (range: 65.3 ± 40.8 to 162.1 ± 75.2°/s; p<0.01). Peak torque for all conditions (range: 98.2 ± 16.2 to 108.2 ± 21.6 Nm) was significantly higher than isometric peak torque (77.4 ± 16.8Nm; p<0.05). Peak torque at 160% (108.2 ± 21.6Nm) was significantly higher than at 120% (98.2 ± 16.2Nm; p<0.05). Power for 140-170% (range: 166.2 ± 85.7W to 265.8 ± 111.3W) was significantly higher than power at 120% (79.9 ± 66.8W; p<0.05). Impulse was highest at 120% (56.1 ± 54.6Nms) compared to all other conditions (range: 56.2 ± 54.6 to 9.6 ± 3.8Nms; p≤0.05). Impulse at 140% (20.6 ± 11.8Nms) was significantly higher than 170% (9.6 ± 3.8Nms; p<0.05). Isometric mean EMG (0.792 ± 0.285 mV) was significantly higher than all eccentric conditions (range: 0.654 ± 0.313 to 0.533 ± 0.259mV; p<0.05) with no difference between eccentric conditions for mean EMG or EMG normalized to peak. It was concluded that compared to 120%, eccentric overload with intensity ranging from 140-170% concentric 1RM involves minimal increases in peak torque and no change in EMG activation. Intensities above 120% enhance power and decrease impulse. This research has implications on future training prescription of eccentric exercise.



muscle hypertrophy, muscle strength, free weights, electrogoniometry, dumbbells



Master of Science (M.Sc.)






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