ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

There is a paucity of data on how manipulating joint angles during isolation exercises may impact overall session muscle activation and volume load in resistance-trained individuals. We investigated the acute effects of varying glenohumeral joint angle on the biceps brachii with a crossover repeated measure design with three di↵erent biceps curls. One session served as the positive control (CON), which subjects performed 9 sets of bicep curls with their shoulder in a neutral position. The experimental condition (VAR), varied the glenohumeral joint angle by performing 3 sets in shoulder extension (30), 3 sets neutral (0), and 3 sets in flexion (90). Volume load and muscle activation (EMG) were recorded during the training sessions. Muscle swelling and strain were assessed via muscle thickness and echo-intensity responses at pre, post, 24 h, 48 h, and 72 h. There were no significant di↵erences between conditions for most dependent variables. However, the overall session EMG amplitude was significantly higher (p = 0.0001) in VAR compared to CON condition (95%-CI: 8.4% to 23.3%). Our findings suggest that varying joint angles during resistance training (RT) may enhance total muscle activation without negatively affecting volume load within a training session in resistance-trained individuals.
Content may be subject to copyright.
The Eects of Varying Glenohumeral Joint Angle on
Acute Volume Load, Muscle Activation, Swelling,
and Echo-Intensity on the Biceps Brachii in
Resistance-Trained Individuals
Christopher Barakat 1, Renato Barroso 2, Michael Alvarez 1, Jacob Rauch 1, Nicholas Miller 1,
Anton Bou-Sliman 1and Eduardo O. De Souza 1,*
1Department of Health Science and Human Performance, University of Tampa, Tampa, FL 33606, USA
2School of Physical Education, University of Campinas, Campinas 13083-851, Brazil
Received: 2 August 2019; Accepted: 2 September 2019; Published: 4 September 2019
There is a paucity of data on how manipulating joint angles during isolation exercises
may impact overall session muscle activation and volume load in resistance-trained individuals.
We investigated the acute eects of varying glenohumeral joint angle on the biceps brachii with
a crossover repeated measure design with three dierent biceps curls. One session served as the
positive control (CON), which subjects performed 9 sets of bicep curls with their shoulder in a neutral
position. The experimental condition (VAR), varied the glenohumeral joint angle by performing
3 sets in shoulder extension (30
), 3 sets neutral (0
), and 3 sets in flexion (90
). Volume load and
muscle activation (EMG) were recorded during the training sessions. Muscle swelling and strain
were assessed via muscle thickness and echo-intensity responses at pre, post, 24 h, 48 h, and 72 h.
There were no significant dierences between conditions for most dependent variables. However,
the overall session EMG amplitude was significantly higher (p =0.0001) in VAR compared to CON
condition (95%-CI: 8.4% to 23.3%). Our findings suggest that varying joint angles during resistance
training (RT) may enhance total muscle activation without negatively aecting volume load within a
training session in resistance-trained individuals.
muscle length-tension relationship; bodybuilding; exercise selection; echo-intensity;
muscle strain
1. Introduction
Physique athletes such as bodybuilders are primarily focused on maximizing muscle hypertrophy
for their sport [
]. The literature implies that resistance training is the most eective method to increase
muscle hypertrophy [
]. In addition, many RT variables (i.e. intensity, volume, exercise selection,
joint angle, tempo) influence the acute responses [
]. Thus, coaches and athletes intentionally
manipulate RT-variables within a session in order to optimize the session stimulus as well as training
adaptations [1,8].
In this regard, recent evidence suggests that mechanical tension plays the greatest mechanistic role
for muscle hypertrophy [
]. One objective variable that indirectly quantifies mechanical tension within
a session is the volume load (sets
load kg). While there is some controversy [
], it has
been suggested that producing greater training volumes per session would optimize muscle mass
accrual [
]. Additionally, the literature also suggests that other factors associated with metabolic
stress (i.e. swelling, lactic acid accumulation) might impact skeletal muscle growth [
]. Furthermore,
muscle activation is another key factor suggested to promote skeletal muscle adaptations [
Sports 2019,7, 204; doi:10.3390/sports7090204
Sports 2019,7, 204 2 of 11
Muscle activation is often analyzed by surface electromyography (EMG) and the data proposes the
greater EMG amplitudes, the greater the motor unit recruitment [
]. Additionally, several acute
variables may impact how muscle is activated during a RT session [
]. For example, relative
intensity (% of one-repetition maximum (1RM)), total volume, rest intervals, and even joint angle aect
muscle activation [15,16,18,19].
Interestingly, manipulating joint angle and RT at dierent muscle lengths has been shown to
impact the acute responses associated with EMG and metabolic responses [
]. Altering joint
angles influences the muscle length-tension relationship, thus aecting its ability to actively produce
force [
]. Furthermore, overloading a muscle in its lengthened position will lead to an
inecient actin–myosin coupling (decreasing force output) while increasing the amount of strain and
damage produced [
]. Nosaka et al. [
] reported significant increases in muscle damage and
subjective soreness levels when training the elbow flexors at long muscle lengths compared to short
muscle lengths in untrained individuals. While previous studies have investigated how the elbow
joint angle and muscle length changes impact muscle activation [
], these studies had the
shoulder joint in a fixed position (i.e., often flexed to 45 or 90 degrees using an isokinetic dynamometer),
with minimal data on how glenohumeral angle would aect muscle activation of the biceps.
Only one study has investigated the eects of varying glenohumeral angles on muscle activation of
the biceps. Oliveira et al. [
] reported dierences in muscle activation of the biceps brachii in three RT
exercises (e.g., incline dumbbell curl, standing dumbbell curl, dumbbell preacher curl). However, the
use of dierent dumbbell exercises may have limited our understating on how varying glenohumeral
joint angles would impact biceps brachii activation. For example, they reported the least amount of
muscle activation when the elbow is fully flexed during the dumbbell preacher curl. This was likely due
to the vertical force of the dumbbell and its inability to produce torque in that position of that particular
exercise, not because of the glenohumeral joint angle. Therefore, the muscle activation dierences
reported would be explained by the variation in the resistance profile between those free-weight
exercises rather than the variation in shoulder angle per se. While the aforementioned study provided
insight on dierences in muscle activation with dierent exercises, the eects of varying joint angles
are not fully understood.
More recently, Marcolin et al. [
] examined dierences in muscle activation of the biceps
brachii and brachioradialis while performing three forearm variants of curl (dumbbell, EZ bar, and
straight bar) in resistance-trained individuals. They found dierences in activation between all three
exercises, with the EZ bar producing the greatest muscle activation on the biceps brachii even though
glenohumeral joint angle was unchanged (0 degrees) between the three forearm variants. So, although
dierences in muscle activation are clearly multifactorial, it has not been investigated how varying joint
angles throughout a training session would impact total muscle activation compared to an exercise
utilizing a single joint angle. Yet, there is a paucity of data that examines how manipulating the joint
angle through greater exercise variation aects session volume load, and metabolic stress factors in
resistance-trained individuals.
Therefore, the purpose of our study was to investigate how altering glenohumeral joint angle
would aect session volume load, muscle activation, swelling and strain of the biceps brachii in
resistance-trained individuals. We hypothesized that varying glenohumeral positions would enhance
the acute training response by increasing total muscle activation and inducing more strain on the biceps.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Experimental Design
This was a randomized crossover repeated measures design, which investigated the eects of
altering glenohumeral joint angle with three dierent cable bicep curls (Free Motion, Logan, UT, USA)
on session volume load, muscle activation, acute muscle swelling, and echo-intensity. One session
served as a positive control (CON) in which all nine working sets of elbow flexion were performed with
Sports 2019,7, 204 3 of 11
the shoulder in the neutral position (0
). In the experimental session (VAR), participants performed
three sets of elbow flexion in three dierent glenohumeral joint positions (-30
, 90
), (Figure 1). The
order in which the subjects performed each biceps curl variation was randomized. Each experimental
session started with a 10 RM load that was predetermined and assessed during the familiarization
sessions. Rest intervals between sets (60 s) and repetition tempo (2:2) were held constant amongst
both conditions. Volume load (i.e., sets
load (kg)) was assessed for each session to examine if
altering glenohumeral joint angle would impact total work output. Muscle activation was measured
through surface electromyography (EMG). Acute muscle thickness and echo-intensity were measured
via ultrasound at rest/pre, immediately post, 24 h, 48 h, and 72 h after the training. Measurements
were performed on the dominant arm and sessions were interspersed by one week and the subjects
performed the remaining condition (e.g., CON or VAR).
Figure 1.
Glenohumeral joint angles—(
) -30
extension, lengthened; (
, neutral; (
) 90
shortened. Please confirm which form of degree you want to use: degree or the unit “
” and please use
the same form for unification in the main text.
2.2. Subjects
Eleven subjects (5 males, 6 females) college students volunteered for this study (age:
21 ±1.47 years
height: 166.8
7.1 cm, body mass: 66.6
10.4 kg, resistance training experience: 4.7
1.91 years,
10 RM: 9.3
3.1 kg). Inclusion criteria consisted of having at least 1 year of RT experience (defined as a
minimum of three RT sessions per week) for males and females between the ages of 18–30. Subjects were
excluded from participation if they were currently taking any medications, anti-inflammatory drugs,
or had a history of drug abuse. All subjects reported no previous history of neck or upper extremity
injury, and no surgical history. This study was approved by the university research ethics committee.
All subjects read and willingly signed informed consent form by the Institutional Review Board.
2.3. Familiarization
Prior to data collection, each subject’s dominant arm was identified. All subjects performed
three familiarization sessions interspersed by 72 h prior to the commencement of the study. During
familiarization sessions, subjects underwent 10-repetition maximum (10 RM) testing bilaterally on the
cable bicep curl exercise in three dierent glenohumeral angles. The three-glenohumeral joint angles
were shortened (flexion to 90
), neutral (0
), and lengthened (
). Each position was measured with
a goniometer (Baseline
Evaluation Instruments, White Plains, NY, USA) by a certified athletic trainer
and glenohumeral joint angle was maintained throughout the entire set without artificial stabilization.
Subjects exercise execution was strictly enforced and visually monitored by the researchers throughout
the training session to avoid possible cheating. Testing consisted of three separate 10-RM strength
assessments, one for each glenohumeral angle as described above.
Sports 2019,7, 204 4 of 11
2.4. Experimental Sessions
Subjects underwent two dierent training sessions interspersed by one week. Each session
consisted of 9 working sets of cable biceps curls with one session serving as the positive control (CON)
and one serving as the experimental session (VAR). During the CON session, subjects were instructed
to maintain a neutral shoulder position (0 degrees) for the entire session. With the shoulder at 0 degree
and the elbow at 90 degrees, subjects started the session with a 5-s maximum voluntary isometric
contraction (MVIC) for elbow flexion and then rested for 60 seconds before performing one warm-up
set of 10 repetitions with 50% of their 10 RM load which was determined during their familiarization
sessions. This MVIC and submaximal set was performed as a means to normalize the EMG data.
From there, subjects performed their first working set with their 10 RM. Repetition cadence was held
constant throughout the session with a 2-s concentric and 2-s eccentric controlled by a metronome
(EUMLab, Xanin Tech, Hangzhou, China). Subjects rested for 60-s in between sets. As fatigue set in and
subjects could no longer complete 10-repetitions their load was reduced on the subsequent set to keep
them within an 8–10 repetition range while performing each set at maximum intensity (e.g., 8–10 RM).
During the VAR session, subjects started oeach position with an MVIC and submaximal set (50% of
their 10 RM). Thereafter, they performed three working sets in each angle at maximum intensity with
the same repetition cadence and rest interval (60-s) as the positive control (CON). A certified strength
and conditioning specialist and a certified athletic trainer were providing verbal encouragement and
ensuring proper exercise execution throughout the duration of the study.
2.5. Overall Session EMG
Muscle activation (EMG) was recorded using a 16-channel electromyography system (Trigno,
Delsys, Boston, MA, USA) with an acquisition frequency of 2000 Hz and a hardware band-pass filter of
20–450 Hz. The skin area was shaved, abraded, and cleaned with an isopropyl alcohol pad to reduce
skin impedance before electrode placement. One active bar wireless electrode (10 mm center to center,
size: 27
13 mm, weight: 14 g, Trigno, Delsys, Boston, MA, USA) was placed on each subject’s
dominant arm at the mid-belly mark (37.5%) of the biceps (Figure 2). The electrode was positioned
parallel to the presumed orientation of the muscle fibers. The position of each electrode during the
first session was marked on the skin with a henna tattoo. EMG signals were acquired in bipolar
mode. In order to normalize the EMG data, a maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) was
performed at each shoulder position followed by a submaximal set (50% 10 RM) before starting the
experimental working sets in that position. We determined maximal muscle activation during the
MVIC selecting a 500 ms window in which EMG values were maximal. In addition, as there is high
between day variations in EMG, this procedure was performed on each session, therefore our EMG
was expressed as the percentage of the maximal activation on each experimental session. The raw
electromyography signals were digitally filtered (4th order Butterworth, band pass 20–500 Hz) and
converted to root mean square (RMS). For the dynamic contractions, RMS was calculated for the entire
set and normalized by the highest values obtained during the isometric contraction in 500 ms windows.
Average EMG data was calculated for the entire session (i.e., overall session EMG).
Sports 2019,7, 204 5 of 11
Figure 2.
Mid-belly (37.5%) location site utilized for electrode placement, muscle thickness, and
echo-intensity assessments.
2.6. Muscle Thickness
Ultrasonography (GE LOGIQ, General Electric Company, Fairfield, CT, USA) was used to assess
muscle thickness (MT) of the elbow flexors of each subject’s dominant arm using a linear array probe
(GE LOGIQ, General Electric Company, Fairfield, CT, USA) with a frequency of 8.0 MHz. To obtain
b-mode images, subject laid supine in anatomical position, with their shoulder in external rotation and
forearm supinated. The ultrasound probe was applied perpendicularly to the skin for measurement.
A water-soluble gel (AQUASONIC
100, Parker Laboratories, Inc., Fairfield, NJ, USA) was used on
the transducer to aid acoustic coupling and remove the need for excess contact pressure on the skin.
MT was defined as the distance between the interface of the muscle tissue and subcutaneous fat to the
humerus. Two dierent areas were measured at 25% (distal) and 37.5% (mid-belly) of distance from the
olecranon to the acromioclavicular joint. MT was assessed at rest/pre, immediately post, 24 h, 48 h, and
72 h post after exercise in order to assess changes in muscle swelling. To increase test-retest consistency,
each site was marked with henna. To further ensure accuracy of the MT assessments, at least 3 images
were obtained for each site. The median of the 3 assessments was used for statistical analysis. The
coecient of variation (CV) was determined prior to the start of the study using five dierent subjects
with similar characteristics to those in the study. The CV for muscle thickness assessments was 1.3%.
The same-blinded researchers performed sonography an all assessments.
2.7. Echo Intensity
The echo intensity was measured using the same ultrasound device, probe, and standardizations
already described. The echo intensity was determined by gray-scale analysis using the standard
histogram function in Image-J (National Institute of Health, Laboratory for Optical and Computational
Instrumentation, Madison, WI, USA, version 1.37). A region of interest (ROI) was chosen in each
scan to include as much muscle as possible without any bone or fascia. The echo intensity in the
region of interest was expressed in values between 0 and 256 (0: black; 256: white). Similar to the MT
assessments, echo intensity analysis was performed at rest/pre, immediately post, 24 h, 48 h, and 72 h
post session. For the echo intensity, the same-blinded experienced researcher analyzed all ultrasound
images. Echo intensity of the biceps brachii was assessed to examine potential regional dierences in
fluid accumulation, strain, and potential muscle damage across conditions.
Sports 2019,7, 204 6 of 11
2.8. Statistical Analysis
Shapiro–Wilk testing confirmed that dependent variables were normally distributed. An analysis
of variance (ANOVA) with repeated-measures was used to scrutinize the eects of varying glenohumeral
joint angle on acute muscle thickness and echo intensity assuming condition (i.e., control and varying)
and time (i.e., pre, post, 24 h, 48 h, and 72 h) as fixed factors. Whenever, a significant F-ratio
was obtained, a post-hoc test with a Tukey
s adjustment was performed for multiple comparisons
purposes. A paired T-test was used to compare the eects of conditions on volume load and overall
session EMG. The significance level was previously set at p <0.05. The 95% confidence intervals
(95%-CI) were presented for the significant comparisons. The GraphPad Prism 8
was used to perform
statistical analyses.
3. Results
3.1. Volume Load and Overall Session EMG
There were no significant dierences in volume load between VAR and CON conditions (VAR:
596 kg
170 kg vs. CON 606 kg
175 kg, p =0.59), Figure 3A. On the other hand, the overall session
EMG amplitude was significantly higher (p =0.0001) in VAR compared to CON condition (95%-CI:
8.4% to 23.3%), Figure 3B.
Figure 3.
Total session volume load (
) and overall session surface electromyography (root mean
square % of maximum isometric voluntary contraction) (B).
3.2. Muscle Swelling and Echo Intensity
For mid-belly muscle swelling, there was a main time eect (p =0.0001) indicating that muscle
swelling was greater at post compared to baseline (95%-CI: 0.35 to 0.56 cm). In addition, ES analysis
revealed moderate acute eects for both VAR and CON conditions (ES: 0.54 and 0.43), respectively.
The muscle swelling returned to baseline 24 h post similarly across conditions. For distal muscle
swelling, there was a significant main time eect (p =0.0001) indicating that muscle swelling was
greater at post compared to baseline (95%-CI: 0.33 to 0.52 cm). In addition, ES analysis revealed
moderate acute eects for both VAR and CON conditions (ES: 0.41 and 0.61), respectively. The muscle
swelling returned to baseline 24 h post similarly across conditions. The individual responses for
changes at the 25% (distal) and 37.5% (mid-belly) landmarks from pre to post, 24, 48, and 72 h workout
are presented in Figure 4.
For mid-belly echo intensity (MBEI), there was a significant main time eect (p =0.0001) indicating
that EI was greater at post compared to baseline (95%-CI: 5.67 to 26.05 A.U). In addition, ES analysis
revealed larger eects for both VAR and CON conditions (ES; 1.49 and 1.24), respectively. The MBEI
returned to baseline 24 h post similarly across conditions. For distal echo-intensity (DEI), there was a
significant main time eect (p =0.0001) indicating that EI was greater at post compared to baseline
(95%-CI: 4.69 to 22.29 A.U). However, ES analysis suggests that magnitude of eect was larger in the
Sports 2019,7, 204 7 of 11
VAR when compared to CON condition (ES; 1.04 vs. 0.60), respectively. The EI returned to baseline
24 h post similarly across conditions. The individual responses for changes at the 25% (distal) and
37.5% (mid-belly) landmarks from pre to post, 24, 48, and 72 h workout are presented in Figure 5.
Figure 4.
Muscle thickness (i.e., swelling) individual responses for changes at the 25% (distal) and
37.5% (mid-belly) landmarks from pre to post, 24, 48, and 72 h workout.
Figure 5.
Echo-intensity individual responses for changes at the 25% (distal) and 37.5% (mid-belly)
landmarks from pre to post, 24, 48, and 72 h workout.
Sports 2019,7, 204 8 of 11
4. Discussion
The purpose of our study was to investigate how altering glenohumeral joint angle would aect
session volume load, muscle activation, acute swelling, and echo-intensity of the biceps brachii in
resistance-trained individuals. We partially confirmed our hypothesis as our main findings indicate
that varying glenohumeral joint angles increased muscle activation without impacting total volume
load compared to the control condition. Additionally, the magnitude of eect for echo-intensity at
the 25% (distal) biceps suggests a greater response immediately post-workout in the VAR condition.
However, both conditions responded similarly and returned to baseline levels 24 h post. Furthermore,
there was a similar response between conditions regarding acute muscle swelling.
4.1. Volume Load and Overall Session EMG
Research has suggested a dose response relationship between training volume load and increases
in muscle mass [
]. However, it is noteworthy to mention that there is no study comparing
the eects of altering joint angles on session volume load. Therefore, it is dicult to compare our
study to current literature. In this acute study, both conditions demonstrated similar volume load (e.g.,
VAR: 596 kg
170 kg, CON 606 kg
175 kg, p =0.59) working at the same intensity. Although it is
understood that altering the muscle lengths can impact its ability to produce force [
], our data
suggest that trained individuals can maintain volume loads across greater joint angle variety with
isolation movements (e.g. elbow flexion) within a training session.
Interestingly, despite similar volume load, overall session EMG was dierent between conditions.
Our results demonstrated that VAR condition produced greater total muscle activation compared to
CON (e.g., 95%-CI: 8.4% to 23.3%, p =0.0001). This data highlights potential dierences between
internal work demands (muscle activation) and external work (volume load). Although it is well
established in the literature that dierences in muscle length influences motor unit recruitment and
muscle activity [
], the findings are contradictory [
]. Thus, making our findings quite
dicult to reconcile. However, our data suggest there is an acute benefit to varying glenohumeral joint
angle when performing biceps curls. Therefore, further research is required to determine whether or
not these dierences in acute muscle activation would enhance chronic adaptations (i.e., muscular
hypertrophy and strength).
4.2. Muscle Swelling and Echo Intensity
Acute muscle swelling and echo intensity were used as markers of metabolic stress and muscle
strain [
]. Regarding acute muscle swelling we reported an average (~12.2%) which corroborates
with previous research that demonstrated ~13.5–15.0% increase in muscle swelling in strength-trained
individuals [
]. However, the acute muscle swelling returned to the baseline 24 h post the training
session. Our findings partially agree with Nosaka et al. [
] findings regarding muscle swelling and
damage. Utilizing both circumference measurements and muscle thickness (i.e., swelling) assessments,
they reported a significant main time eect from pre to post in both regions (mid-belly and distally).
However, they reported larger increases distally, whereas we observed similar changes at both regions
between conditions. Contrary to our findings, their muscle swelling did not return to baseline 24 h
post and remained elevated. They reported the greatest increase in swelling 72 h post exercise in
the distal region for their lengthened condition. Our conflicting results are due to the dierences in
subject population. Their subjects were described as nonathletes and not involved in regular RT (i.e.,
untrained). Whereas we investigated resistance-trained individuals with an average of 4.7 years of
RT experience. It is well understood that well-trained individuals have significantly greater recovery
capabilities compared to untrained [
]. For example, Newton et al. [
] observed significantly greater
recovery on makers of muscle damage in trained subjects compared to untrained undergoing RT of the
elbow flexors.
Sports 2019,7, 204 9 of 11
In regards to echo-intensity, while we found a main time eect for both conditions from pre/rest
to immediately post workout at both sites of the biceps (MBEI, DEI), echo-intensity was back to
baseline 24 h post. Distally (DEI) the eect size analyses suggested that VAR condition produced
more strain compared to CON (ES; 1.04 vs. 0.60). Previously, Nosaka et al. [
] reported significantly
greater echo-intensity and plasma creatine kinase in their lengthened condition. Perhaps, their data
shines light as to why this present study VAR condition demonstrated a larger magnitude of eect
for DEI, as this condition performed three working sets in a lengthened position for the long head
of the biceps (
30 degrees glenohumeral extension) that CON did not. However, it is noteworthy to
mention that while previous studies have demonstrated that training in a lengthened position produced
greater muscle damage, these investigations were in untrained individuals [
]. Our findings
only suggest that exercising in a lengthened position places more strain during exercise leading
to increases in echo-intensity immediately after the training session. However, more research is
warranted to determine if exercising in a lengthened position would translate to better adaptations
in resistance-trained-individuals.
4.3. Limitations
Our study has several limitations that need to be addressed. 1) EMG data can be influenced
by multiple factors (i.e., subcutaneous tissue, spatial filter transfer function, innervation zone (IZ),
electrode placement, etc.) and must be taken with caution [
]. 2) In particular, dynamic contractions
in fusiform muscles (i.e., biceps brachii) are very dicult to study as any observed changes may be due
to either muscle activation or the geometry of the electrode-muscle system (i.e., muscle lengthening
or shortening, fiber overlap) [
] Additionally, during the concentric contraction of the biceps, the IZ
shifts upwards, moving underneath the electrode, thus impacting amplitude values. 3) Our electrode
placement may not have been optimal [
] as our mid-belly (37.5%) anatomical landmark frame (ALF)
was determined based on the distance from the acromion to the olecranon and not the distance between
the acromion and distal insertion of the biceps brachii. Moreover, the optimal electrode site for the
short head and the long head of the biceps brachii has been identified as 61% and 62% of the ALF,
respectively, where ours was placed on the muscle belly at 62.5% of our ALF for consistency sake
between multiple assessments (EMG, muscle swelling, and echo-intensity). 4) We did not assess
perceptual measures (i.e. RPE) between conditions to monitor potential exertion dierences. 5) We
did not evaluate the subject’s perceived soreness throughout the recovery period. 6) We had a small
sample size (n =11). 7) Lastly, this was an acute study. Further research is needed to examine the
chronic eects of varying joint angles and its eects on RT-induced adaptations.
5. Conclusions
In conclusion, our findings suggest that varying joint angles during RT may enhance total
muscle activation and can potentially induce more strain without negatively aecting volume load
within a training session in resistance-trained individuals. From a practical application standpoint,
resistance-trained subjects or bodybuilders trying to maximize the training stimulus of each session
should utilize multiple exercises that vary joint angles. This may lead to a greater internal stimulus
(muscle activation) while performing the same amount of total work (volume). However, we cannot
draw conclusions on how this may influence chronic adaptations, as this was an acute study.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, C.B., M.A., and E.O.D.S.; methodology, C.B., M.A., and E.O.D.S.;
validation, E.O.D.S.; formal analysis, R.B., E.O.D.S.; investigation, C.B., M.A., J.R., N.M., A.B.-S.; data curation,
C.B., M.A., J.R., N.M., R.B.; writing—original draft preparation, C.B., M.A., J.R., E.O.D.S.; writing—review and
editing, C.B., M.A., J.R., N.M., A.B.-S., R.B., E.O.D.S.; visualization, C.B., M.A.; supervision, M.A., J.R., N.M.,
A.B.-S.; project administration, C.B., E.O.D.S.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Sports 2019,7, 204 10 of 11
Helms, E.R.; Fitschen, P.J.; Aragon, A.A.; Cronin, J.; Schoenfeld, B.J. Recommendations for natural
bodybuilding contest preparation: Resistance and cardiovascular training. J. Sports Med. Phys. Fitness
55, 164–178. [PubMed]
Schoenfeld, B.J. The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and Their Application to Resistance Training.
J. Strength Cond. Res. 2010,24, 2857–2872. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Wackerhage, H.; Schoenfeld, B.J.; Hamilton, D.L.; Lehti, M.; Hulmi, J.J. Stimuli and sensors that initiate
skeletal muscle hypertrophy following resistance exercise. J. Appl. Physiol.
,126, 30–43. [CrossRef]
De Souza, E.O.; Tricoli, V.; Rauch, A.; Alvarez, M.R.; Laurentino, G.; Aihara, A.Y.; Cardoso, F.N.; Roschel, H.;
Ugrinowitsch, C. Dierent Patterns in Muscular Strength and Hypertrophy Adaptations in Untrained
Individuals Undergoing Nonperiodized and Periodized Strength Regimens. J. Strength Cond. Res.
1238–1244. [CrossRef]
Figueiredo, V.C.; De Salles, B.F.; Trajano, G.S. Volume for Muscle Hypertrophy and Health Outcomes: The
Most Eective Variable in Resistance Training. Sports Med. 2017,48, 499–505. [CrossRef][PubMed]
De Freitas, M.C.; Gerosa-Neto, J.; Zanchi, N.E.; Lira, F.S.; Rossi, F.E. Role of metabolic stress for enhancing
muscle adaptations: Practical applications. World J. Methodol. 2017,7, 46–54. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Nosaka, K.; Sakamoto, K. Eect of elbow joint angle on the magnitude of muscle damage to the elbow flexors.
Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 2001,33, 22–29. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Schoenfeld, B. The Use of Specialized Training Techniques to Maximize Muscle Hypertrophy.
Strength Cond. J.
2011,33, 60–65. [CrossRef]
Barbalho, M.; Coswig, V.S.; Steele, J.; Fisher, J.P.; Giessing, J.; Gentil, P. Evidence of a ceiling eect for training
volume in muscle hypertrophy and strength in trained men – less is more? Int. J. Sports Physiol. Perform.
2019,1, 1–23. [CrossRef]
Schoenfeld, B.J.; Contreras, B.; Krieger, J.; Grgic, J.; Delcastillo, K.; Belliard, R.; Alto, A. Resistance Training
Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy. Med. Sci. Sport. Exerc. 2018,51, 94. [CrossRef]
Schoenfeld, B.J.; Ogborn, D.; Krieger, J.W. Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training
volume and increases in muscle mass: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J. Sports Sci.
1073–1082. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Adams, G.R.; Bamman, M.M. Characterization and regulation of mechanical loading-induced compensatory
muscle hypertrophy. Compr. Physiol. 2012,2, 2829–2870. [PubMed]
Lieber, R.L. Skeletal Muscle structure, Function, and Plasticity; Lippincott Williams & Wilkins: Philadelphia, PA,
USA, 2011.
Fleck, S.; Kraemer, W. Designing Resistance Training Programs, 4th ed.; Human Kinetics: Champaign, IL,
USA, 2014.
Looney, D.; Kraemer, W.; Joseph, M.; Comstock, B.; Craig, R.; Flanagan, S.; Newton, R.; Szivak, T.; DuPont, W.;
Hooper, D.; et al. Electromyographical and perceptual responses to dierent resistance intensities in a squat
protocol: Does performing sets to failure with light loads recruit more motor units? J. Strength Cond. Res.
2016,30, 792–799. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Wallace, W.; Ugrinowitsch, C.; Stefan, M.; Rauch, J.; Barakat, C.; Shields, K.; Barninger, A.; Barroso, R.; De
Souza, E.O. Repeated Bouts of Advanced Strength Training Techniques: Eects on Volume Load, Metabolic
Responses, and Muscle Activation in Trained Individuals. Sports 2019,7, 14. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Andersen, J.L.; Schjerling, P.; Saltin, B. Muscle, Genes and Athletic Performance. Sci. Am.
,283, 48–55.
Oliveira, L.F.; Matta, T.T.; Alves, D.S.; Garcia, M.A.; Vieira, T.M. Eect of the shoulder position on the biceps
brachii emg in dierent dumbbell curls. J. Sports Sci. Med. 2009,8, 24–29. [PubMed]
Kasprisin, J.; Grabiner, M. Joint angle-dependence of elbow flexor activation levels during isometric and
isokinetic maximum voluntary contractions. Clin. Biomech. 2000,15, 743–749. [CrossRef]
Farina, D.; Merletti, R.; Nazzaro, M.; Caruso, I. Eect of joint angle on EMG variables in leg and thigh
muscles. IEEE Eng. Med. Boil. Mag. 2001,20, 62–71. [CrossRef]
Sports 2019,7, 204 11 of 11
Mcmahon, G.; Morse, C.I.; Burden, A.; Winwood, K.; Onamb
, G.L. Muscular adaptations and insulin-like
growth factor-1 responses to resistance training are stretch-mediated. Muscle Nerve
,49, 108–119.
Hansen, E.A.; Lee, H.-D.; Barrett, K.; Herzog, W. The shape of the force-elbow angle relationship for maximal
voluntary contractions and sub-maximal electrically induced contractions in human elbow flexors. J. Biomech.
2003,36, 1713–1718. [CrossRef]
Rassier, D.E.; MacIntosh, B.R.; Herzog, W. Length dependence of active force production in skeletal muscle.
J. Appl. Physiol. 2017,86, 1445–1457. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Newham, D.J.; Jones, D.A.; Ghosh, G.; Aurora, P. Muscle fatigue and pain after eccentric contractions at long
and short length. Clin. Sci. 2015,74, 553–557. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Nakazawa, K.; Kawakami, Y.; Fukunaga, T.; Yano, H.; Miyashita, M. Dierences in activation patterns in
elbow flexor muscles during isometric, concentric and eccentric contractions. Graefe’s Arch. Clin. Exp.
Ophthalmol. 1993,66, 214–220. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Christova, P.; Kossev, A.; Radicheva, N. Discharge rate of selected motor units in human biceps brachii at
dierent muscle lengths. J. Electromyogr. Kinesiol. 1998,8, 287–294. [CrossRef]
Marcolin, G.; Panizzolo, F.A.; Petrone, N.; Moro, T.; Grigoletto, D.; Piccolo, D.; Paoli, A. Dierences in
electromyographic activity of biceps brachii and brachioradialis while performing three variants of curl.
PeerJ 2018,6, e5165. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Krieger, J.W. Single vs. Multiple Sets of Resistance Exercise for Muscle Hypertrophy: A Meta-Analysis.
J. Strength Cond. Res. 2010,24, 1150–1159. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Rauch, J.T.; Ugrinowitsch, C.; I Barakat, C.; Alvarez, M.R.; Brummert, D.L.; Aube, D.W.; Barsuhn, A.S.;
Hayes, D.; Tricoli, V.; De Souza, E.O. Auto-regulated exercise selection training regimen produces small
increases in lean body mass and maximal strength adaptations in strength-trained individuals. J. Strength
Cond. Res. 2017, 1. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Pasquet, B.; Carpentier, A.; Duchateau, J. Change in Muscle Fascicle Length Influences the Recruitment
and Discharge Rate of Motor Units During Isometric Contractions. J. Neurophysiol.
,94, 3126–3133.
Tax, A.A.M.; Denier, J.J.V.D.G.; Gielen, C.C.A.M.; Kleyne, M. Dierences in central control of m. biceps
brachii in movement tasks and force tasks. Exp. Brain Res. 1990,79, 138–142. [CrossRef]
Komi, P.V.; Linnamo, V.; Silventoinen, P.; Sillanpää, M. Force and EMG power spectrum during eccentric and
concentric actions. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 2000,32, 1757–1762. [CrossRef]
Babault, N.; Pousson, M.; Michaut, A.; Hoecke, J.; Babault, N.; Pousson, M.; Michaut, A.; Hoecke, J.V.A.N.;
Pousson, M.; Michaut, A. Eect of quadriceps femoris muscle length on neural activation during isometric
and concentric contractions. J. Appl. Physiol. 2003,94, 983–990. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Ferreira, D.V.; Cadore, E.L.; Soares, S.R.; Izquierdo, M.; Brown, L.E.; Bottaro, M.; Ferreira-J
nior, J.B.
Chest Press Exercises With Dierent Stability Requirements Result in Similar Muscle Damage Recovery in
Resistance-Trained Men. J. Strength Cond. Res. 2017,31, 71–79. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Newton, M.J.; Morgan, G.T.; Sacco, P.; Chapman, D.W.; Nosaka, K. Comparison of Responses to Strenuous
Eccentric Exercise of the Elbow Flexors Between Resistance-Trained and Untrained Men. J. Strength Cond. Res.
2008,22, 597–607. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Morgan, D.L.; Allen, D.G. Early events in stretch-induced muscle damage. J. Appl. Physiol.
2007–2015. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Farina, D.; Cescon, C.; Merletti, R. Influence of anatomical, physical, and detection-system parameters on
surface EMG. Boil. Cybern. 2002,86, 445–456. [CrossRef][PubMed]
Barbero, M.; Merletti, R.; Rainoldi, A. Atlas of Muscle Innervation Zones: Understanding Surface Electromyography
and Its Applications; Springer Science & Business Media: Berlin, Germany, 2012.
2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access
article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution
(CC BY) license (
... From a theoretical point of view, three possible reasons are proposed for explaining the non-homogeneous hypertrophy of a muscle: a) a difference in muscular activation the across muscle length [12], b) a variation in relative intensity on the muscle tissue during dynamic movement due to change in velocity and mechanical advantage [13], and c) a passive tension and active insufficiency of biarticular muscles [14]. Besides, given that different exercises lead to distinct stimuli along the muscle length [7][8][9][10], alternating or varying the choice of the exercises seems a good alternative to stimulate various muscle sites. ...
... Unlike the N-VAR group, the VAR group showed significant MT increases of the proximal elbow flexors and the middle lateral thigh sites. These findings may be explained by the sum of some factors, including muscle morphology, the position of the joints involved in performing the exercises, and range of motion [8,14,22]. ...
The study aimed to compare the effect of performing the same or different exercises for a muscle group on resistance training (RT) sessions on muscle hypertrophy at different sites along muscle length. Twenty-two detrained men (23.3 ± 4.1 years) were randomly allocated to the following groups: a group that performed the same exercises in all training sessions (N-VAR = 11) or one that varied the exercises for the same muscle groups (VAR = 11). All were submitted to 3 weekly sessions for nine weeks. Muscle thickness was assessed at the proximal, middle, and distal sites of the lateral and anterior thigh, elbow flexors, and extensors by B-mode ultrasound. The VAR group significantly increased all the sites analyzed (P < 0.05). Furthermore, the proximal site of the lateral thigh showed a larger relative increase when compared to the middle site (P < 0.05). In contrast, the N-VAR group were not revealed significant improvements only for the middle site of the lateral thigh and the proximal site of the elbow flexors (P > 0.05). Our results suggest that to perform different resistance exercises can induce hypertrophy of all sites assessed in detrained young men.
... Optimization method has been a concern of many researchers to investigate the musculoskeletal system and estimate muscle forces [1][2][3][4][5] which is usually used to statically or dynamically minimize specific objective function using particular design variables. Static optimization method has much lower computational cost than dynamic optimization method, maybe for this reason, many researches use static optimization method [5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] Hence, optimization technique is required to estimate muscle forces because of musculoskeletal system redundancy [1][2][3][4]. Many studies have been done utilizing static optimization criteria where they used muscle forces as design variables spanning different joints [1,10,[13][14][15][16]. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper aims to study muscles behavior and investigate the effect of varied joint angle on the muscles forces. Quadratic objective function of muscle forces was minimized to estimate muscles forces in the forearm-hand segment at four different elbow joint angles during carrying external load applied on hand performed on the sagittal plane. The forearm-hand model was investigated to study the influence of varied elbow angle on the load sharing of the forearm-hand model. Six muscles were selected as prime movers of the model and their forces were estimated using Lagrange multiplier method. At each elbow angle, the forces of the selected muscles were determined, during lifting a load, to be compared to each other with observing the influence of elbow angle. The findings showed that the minimized muscles forces were highly influenced by the change in elbow join angle. It was also found that differences between the loads sharing of the estimated muscles which are related to the change in the elbow angle. Once the elbow angle was 30 degrees, the estimated forces had the highest values among the other forces estimated with the other elbow angles whereas the elbow angle of 120 degrees the muscles had the lowest forces. Consequently, it is concluded that there is a significant relationship between the elbow angle and the muscle forces in the model. Moreover, the external load applied on hand is better being carried at elbow angle of 120 degrees. That indicates that the elbow joint angle of 120 degrees may be better than the other elbow joint angles.
The measurement of joint angles is an important indicator of its functional state and for clinical diagnoses. Joint angle assessment techniques can be applied to improve sports performance and provide treatment and rehabilitation information. Recently, several sensors have been designed to detect movements of the human body. In this sense, a systematic review was carried out based on studies from the period of 2014 to 2019. The sources of research were the following databases: Capes Journals, IEEE Xplore and PubMed, in which 44 publications related to technologies applied for elbow joint angle measurements were selected. Eleven measurement methods were identified, the most used was: IMU sensors, mobile apps and fiber optic sensors. The results show that it is an area in constant expansion, with most of the papers published in recent years and with great potential for development and applications. The benefits of research can go far beyond indicating the sensors most used in the literature, but provide the most suitable for each application. In addition to facilitating the standardization of assessment methods for use in clinical practice. It is worth mentioning that the literature review has identified the main gaps for the development of new research, in addition to direct the main publications related to the study.
BACKGROUND: Few studies have reported the contribution of isometric-specific exercise of the biceps brachii muscle to increased strength under manual fixation of the scapula. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the activation amplitude of the biceps brachii (BB), serratus anterior (SA), and upper trapezius (UT) in a supine lying posture based on various exercise conditions. METHODS: The EMG activity of BB, SA, and UT was measured in 25 healthy adults while performing maximal elbow flexion exercise with or without manual stabilization of the scapula in two different loading conditions. RESULTS: Muscle activation of the BB was significantly greater when performed with manual fixation of the scapula under the wrist-loading exercise condition (p< 0.05) but manual fixation of the scapula or absence thereof did not have an effect. Elbow flexion force was significantly increased when applying manual fixation to the scapula in both the hand and wrist-loading exercise conditions (p< 0.05). There were no interaction effects between exercise conditions and manual fixation (with or without) in any of the EMG activation values (p> 0.05). CONCLUSION: Manual stabilization of the scapula is a useful therapeutic technique to increase BB strength. Such an intervention may also be indicated for accurate strength measurement of this muscle.
Full-text available
This study investigated the effects of advanced training techniques (ATT) on muscular responses and if performing a second training session would negatively affect the training stimulus. Eleven strength-trained males performed a traditional strength training session (TST) and four different ATT: pre-exhaustion A (PE-A), pre-exhaustion B (PE-B), forced repetitions (FR), and super-set (SS). On day 1, SS produced lower volume load than TST, FR, and PE-B (16.0%, p=0.03; 14.9, p= 0.03 and 18.2%, p=0.01, respectively). On day 2, SS produced lower volumes than all the other ATT (9.73-18.5%, p=0.03). Additionally, subjects demonstrated lower perceived exertion on day 1 compared to day 2 (6.5 ± 0.4 AU vs. 8.7 ± 0.3 AU, p = 0.0001). For blood lactate concentration [La-] on days 1 and 2, [La-] after the tenth set was the highest compared to all other time points (baseline: 1.7 ± 0.2, fifth-set: 8.7 ± 1.0, tenth-set 9.7 ± 0.9, post-5 min: 8.7 ± 0.7 mmol·L 1 , p=0.0001). Acute muscle swelling was greater immediately and 30-min post compared to baseline (p=0.0001). On day 2, electromyography (EMG) amplitude on the clavicular head of the pectoralis major was lower for SS than TST, PEA , and PE-B (11.7%, p=0.01; 14.4%, p=0.009; 20.9%, p = 0.0003, respectively). Detrimental effects to the training stimulus were not observed when ATT (besides SS) are repeated. Strength trained individuals can sustain performance, compared to TST, when they are using ATT in an acute fashion. Although ATT have traditionally been used as a means to optimize metabolic stress, volume load, and neuromuscular responses, our data did not project differences in these variables compared to TST. However, it is important to note that different ATT might produce slight changes in volume load, muscle excitation, and fluid accumulation in strength-trained individuals from session to session.
Full-text available
One of the most striking adaptations to exercise is the skeletal muscle hypertrophy that occurs in response to resistance exercise. A large body of work shows that a mTORC1-mediated increase of muscle protein synthesis is the key, but not sole, mechanism by which resistance exercise causes muscle hypertrophy. Whilst much of the hypertrophy signaling cascade has been identified, the initiating, resistance exercise-induced and hypertrophy-stimulating stimuli have remained elusive. For the purpose of this review, we define an initiating, resistance exercise-induced and hypertrophy-stimulating signal as "hypertrophy stimulus", and the sensor of such a signal as "hypertrophy sensor". In this review we discuss our current knowledge of specific mechanical stimuli, damage/injury-associated and metabolic stress-associated triggers as potential hypertrophy stimuli. Mechanical signals are the prime hypertrophy stimuli candidates and a Filamin-C-BAG3-dependent regulation of mTORC1, Hippo and autophagy signalling is a plausible albeit still incompletely characterised hypertrophy sensor. Other candidate mechanosensing mechanisms are nuclear deformation-initiated signalling or several mechanisms related to costameres, which are the functional equivalents of focal adhesions in other cells. Whilst exercise-induced muscle damage is probably not essential for hypertrophy, it is still unclear whether and how such muscle damage could augment a hypertrophic response. Interventions that combine blood flow restriction and especially low load resistance exercise suggest that resistance exercise-regulated metabolites could be hypertrophy stimuli but this is based on indirect evidence and metabolite candidates are poorly characterised.
Full-text available
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate muscular adaptations between low-, moderate-, and high-volume resistance training (RT) protocols in resistance-trained men. Methods: Thirty-four healthy resistance-trained men were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 experimental groups: a low-volume group (1SET) performing 1 set per exercise per training session (n = 11); a moderate-volume group (3SET) performing 3 sets per exercise per training session (n = 12); or a high-volume group (5SET) performing 5 sets per exercise per training session (n = 11). Training for all routines consisted of three weekly sessions performed on non-consecutive days for 8 weeks. Muscular strength was evaluated with 1 repetition maximum (RM) testing for the squat and bench press. Upper-body muscle endurance was evaluated using 50% of subjects bench press 1RM performed to momentary failure. Muscle hypertrophy was evaluated using B-mode ultrasonography for the elbow flexors, elbow extensors, mid-thigh and lateral thigh. Results: Results showed significant pre-to-post intervention increases in strength and endurance in all groups, with no significant between-group differences. Alternatively, while all groups increased muscle size in most of the measured sites from pre-to-post intervention, significant increases favoring the higher volume conditions were seen for the elbow flexors, mid-thigh, and lateral thigh. Conclusion: Marked increases in strength and endurance can be attained by resistance-trained individuals with just three, 13-minute weekly sessions over an 8-week period, and these gains are similar to that achieved with a substantially greater time commitment. Alternatively, muscle hypertrophy follows a dose-response relationship, with increasingly greater gains achieved with higher training volumes.
Full-text available
Background Dumbbell curl (DC) and barbell curl in its two variants, straight (BC) or undulated bar (EZ) are typical exercises to train the elbow flexors. The aim of the study was to verify if the execution of these three variants could induce a selective electromyographic (EMG) activity of the biceps brachii (BB) and brachioradialis (BR). Methods Twelve participants performed one set of ten repetitions at 65% of their 1-RM for each variant of curl. Pre-gelled electrodes were applied with an inter-electrode distance of 24 mm on BB and BR. An electrical goniometer was synchronously recorded with EMG signals to determine the concentric and eccentric phases of each variant of curl. Results We detected higher activation profile of both BB ( P < 0.05) and BR ( P < 0.01) during the EZ compared to the DC. Higher levels of activation was found during the concentric phase for only the BR performed with an EZ compared to DC ( P < 0.001) and performing BC compared to DC ( P < 0.05). The eccentric phase showed a higher activation of the BB muscle in EZ compared to DC ( P < 0.01) and in BC compared to DC ( P < 0.05). The BR muscle showed a higher activation performing EZ compared to DC ( P < 0.01). Discussion The EZ variant may be preferred over the DC variant as it enhances BB and BR EMG activity during the whole range of motion and only in the eccentric phase. The small difference between BC and EZ variants of the BB and BR EMG activity makes the choice between these two exercises a matter of subjective comfort.
Full-text available
This study investigated the effects of non-periodized (NP), traditional periodization (TP) and daily undulating (UP) regimens on muscle strength and hypertrophy in untrained individuals. Thirty-three recreationally active males were randomly divided into four groups: NP: n = 8; TP: n = 9; UP: n = 8 and control group (C): n = 8. Experimental groups underwent a 12-week strength-training program consisting of two sessions per week. Muscle strength and quadriceps cross-sectional area (QCSA) were assessed at baseline, 6-wk (i.e. mid-point) and after 12-wk. All training groups increased squat 1RM from pre to 6-wk mid (NP: 17.02%, TP: 7.7% and UP: 12.9%, p≤0.002) and pre to post 12-wk (NP: 19.5%, TP: 17.9% and UP: 20.4%). TP was the only group that increased squat 1RM from 6-wk mid to 12-wk period (9.4%, p≤0.008). All training groups increased QCSA from pre to 6-wk mid (NP: 5.1%, TP: 4.6% and UP: 5.3%, p≤0.0006) and from pre to post 12-wk (NP: 8.1%, TP: 11.3% and UP: 8.7%). From 6-wk mid to 12-wk period, TP and UP were the only groups that increased QCSA (6.4% and 3.7%, p≤0.02). There were no significant changes for all dependent variables in C group across the time (p≥0.05). In conclusion, our results demonstrated similar training-induced adaptations after 12-wk of NP and periodized regimens. However, our findings suggest that in the latter half of the study (i.e. after the initial 6 weeks), the periodized regimens elicited greater rates of muscular adaptations compared to NP. Strength coaches and practitioners should be aware that periodized regimens might be advantageous at latter stages of training even for untrained individuals.
Full-text available
Resistance training is the most effective method to increase muscle mass. It has also been shown to promote many health benefits. Although it is deemed safe and of clinical relevance for treating and preventing a vast number of diseases, a time-efficient and minimal dose of exercise has been the focus of a great number of research studies. Similarly, an inverted U-shaped relationship between training dose/volume and physiological response has been hypothesized to exist. However, the majority of available evidence supports a clear dose-response relationship between resistance training volume and physiological responses, such as muscle hypertrophy and health outcomes. Additionally, there is a paucity of data to support the inverted U-shaped response. Although it may indeed exist, it appears to be much more plastic than previously thought. The overarching principle argued herein is that volume is the most easily modifiable variable that has the most evidenced-based response with important repercussions, be these muscle hypertrophy or health-related outcomes.
Full-text available
Auto-regulated exercise selection training regimen ABSTRACT: The purpose of this investigation was to compare the effects of auto-regulatory exercise selection (AES) vs. fixed exercise selection (FES) on muscular adaptations in strength-trained individuals. Seventeen males (Mean ± SD; age = 24 ± 5.45 years; height = 180.3 ± 7.54cm, lean body mass [LBM] 66.44 ± 6.59kg; squat and bench press 1RM: body mass ratio 1.87, 1.38 respectively) were randomly assigned into either AES or FES. Both groups trained three times a week for 9 weeks. AES self-selected the exercises for each session, whereas FES was required to perform exercises in a fixed order. LBM was assessed via DEXA and maximum strength via 1RM testing, pre and post training intervention. Total volume load was significantly higher for AES than for FES (AES: 573,288kg ± 67,505, FES: 464,600 ± 95,595, p=0.0240). For LBM, there was a significant main time effect (p=0.009). However, confidence interval analysis (95%CI diff) suggested that only AES significantly increased LBM (AES: 2.47%, ES: 0.35, 95% CI diff [0.030kg: 3.197kg], FES: 1.37 %, ES: 0.21, 95% CI diff [-0.500kg: 2.475kg]). There was a significant main time effect for maximum strength (p≤0.0001). However, 95% CI diff suggested that only AES significantly improved Bench-press 1RM (AES: 6.48%, ES: 0.50, 95% CIdiff [0.312kg: 11.42kg; FES: 5.14%, ES: 0.43 95%CIdiff [-0.311kg: 11.42kg]. On the other hand for back squat 1RM similar responses were observed between groups, (AES: 9.55%, ES: 0.76 95% CIdiff [0.04kg: 28.37kg], FES: 11.54%, ES: 0.80, 95%CIdiff [1.8kg: 28.5kg]. Our findings, suggest AES may provide a small advantage in LBM and upper body maximal strength in strength-trained individuals.
Full-text available
Metabolic stress is a physiological process that occurs during exercise in response to low energy that leads to metabolite accumulation [lactate, phosphate inorganic (Pi) and ions of hydrogen (H⁺)] in muscle cells. Traditional exercise protocol (i.e., Resistance training) has an important impact on the increase of metabolite accumulation, which influences hormonal release, hypoxia, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and cell swelling. Changes in acute exercise routines, such as intensity, volume and rest between sets, are determinants for the magnitude of metabolic stress, furthermore, different types of training, such as low-intensity resistance training plus blood flow restriction and high intensity interval training, could be used to maximize metabolic stress during exercise. Thus, the objective of this review is to describe practical applications that induce metabolic stress and the potential effects of metabolic stress to increase systemic hormonal release, hypoxia, ROS production, cell swelling and muscle adaptations.
Full-text available
The purpose of this paper was to systematically review the current literature and elucidate the effects of total weekly resistance training (RT) volume on changes in measures of muscle mass via meta-regression. The final analysis comprised 34 treatment groups from 15 studies. Outcomes for weekly sets as a continuous variable showed a significant effect of volume on changes in muscle size (P = 0.002). Each additional set was associated with an increase in effect size (ES) of 0.023 corresponding to an increase in the percentage gain by 0.37%. Outcomes for weekly sets categorised as lower or higher within each study showed a significant effect of volume on changes in muscle size (P = 0.03); the ES difference between higher and lower volumes was 0.241, which equated to a percentage gain difference of 3.9%. Outcomes for weekly sets as a three-level categorical variable (<5, 5-9 and 10+ per muscle) showed a trend for an effect of weekly sets (P = 0.074). The findings indicate a graded dose-response relationship whereby increases in RT volume produce greater gains in muscle hypertrophy.
Purpose: To compare the effects of different resistance training volumes on muscle performance and hypertrophy in trained men. Methods: 37 volunteers performed resistance training for 24 weeks, divided into groups that performed five (G5), 10 (G10), 15 (G15) and 20 (G20) sets per muscle group per week. Ten repetition maximum (10RM) tests were performed for the bench press, lat pull down, 45º leg press, and stiff legged deadlift. Muscle thickness (MT) was measured using ultrasound at biceps brachii, triceps brachii, pectoralis major, quadriceps femoris and gluteus maximus. All measurements were performed at the beginning (pre) and after 12 (mid) and 24 weeks (post). Results: All groups showed significant increases in all 10RM tests and MT measures after 12 and 24 weeks when compared to pre (p <0.05). There were no significant differences in any 10RM test or changes between G5 and G10 after 12 and 24 weeks. G5 and G10 showed significantly greater increases for 10RM than G15 and G20 for most exercises at 12 and 24 weeks. There were no group by time interaction for any MT measure. Conclusions: The results bring evidence of an inverted "U shaped" curve for the dose response curve for muscle strength. Whilst the same trend was noted for muscle hypertrophy, the results did not reach significance. Five to 10 sets per week might be sufficient for bringing about optimal gains in muscle size and strength in trained men over a 24-week period.