Exercise Science and Sport Management

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Resistance training may differentially affect morphological adaptations along the length of uni-articular and bi-articular muscles. The purpose of this study was to compare changes in muscle morphology along the length of the rectus femoris (RF) and vastus lateralis (VL) in response to resistance training. Following a 2-wk preparatory phase, 15 resistance-trained men (24.0 ± 3.0 y, 90.0 ± 13.8 kg, 174.9 ± 20.7 cm) completed pre-training (PRE) assessments of muscle thickness (MT), pennation angle (PA), cross-sectional area (CSA), and echo-intensity in the RF and VL at 30, 50, and 70% of each muscle’s length; fascicle length (FL) was estimated from respective measurements of MT and PA within each muscle and region. Participants then began a high intensity, low volume (4 x 3–5 repetitions, 3min rest) lower-body resistance training program, and repeated all PRE-assessments after 8 weeks (2 d ∙ wk-1) of training (POST). Although three-way (muscle [RF, VL] x region [30, 50, 70%] x time [PRE, POST]) repeated measures analysis of variance did not reveal significant interactions for any assessment of morphology, significant simple (muscle x time) effects were observed for CSA (p = 0.002) and FL (p = 0.016). Specifically, average CSA changes favored the VL (2.96 ± 0.69 cm2, p < 0.001) over the RF (0.59 ± 0.20 cm2, p = 0.011), while significant decreases in average FL were noted for the RF (–1.03 ± 0.30 cm, p = 0.004) but not the VL (–0.05 ± 0.36 cm, p = 0.901). No other significant differences were observed. The findings of this study demonstrate the occurrence of non-homogenous adaptations in RF and VL muscle size and architecture following 8 weeks of high-intensity resistance training in resistance-trained men. However, training does not appear to influence region-specific adaptations in either muscle.

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© 2018 Mangine et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.