Motor unit behavior during submaximal contractions following six weeks of either endurance or strength training

Carolina Vila-Chã, Deborah Falla, Dario Farina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


The study investigated changes in motor output and motor unit behavior following 6 wk of either strength or endurance training programs commonly used in conditioning and rehabilitation. Twenty-seven sedentary healthy men (age, 26.1 ± 3.9 yr; mean ± SD) were randomly assigned to strength training (ST; n = 9), endurance training (ET; n = 10), or a control group (CT; n = 8). Maximum voluntary contraction (MVC), time to task failure (isometric contraction at 30% MVC), and rate of force development (RFD) of the quadriceps were measured before (week 0), during (week 3), and after a training program of 6 wk. In each experimental session, surface and intramuscular EMG signals were recorded from the vastus medialis obliquus and vastus lateralis muscles during isometric knee extension at 10 and 30% MVC. After 6 wk of training, MVC and RFD increased in the ST group (17.5 ± 7.5 and 33.3 ± 15.9%, respectively; P < 0.05), whereas time to task failure was prolonged in the ET group (29.7 ± 13.4%; P < 0.05). The surface EMG amplitude at 30% MVC force increased with training in both groups, but the training-induced changes in motor unit discharge rates differed between groups. After endurance training, the motor unit discharge rate at 30% MVC decreased from 11.3 ± 1.3 to 10.1 ± 1.1 pulses per second (pps; P < 0.05) in the vasti muscles, whereas after strength training it increased from 11.4 ± 1.2 to 12.7 ± 1.3 pps (P < 0.05). Finally, motor unit conduction velocity during the contractions at 30% MVC increased for both the ST and ET groups, but only after 6 wk of training (P < 0.05). In conclusion, these strength and endurance training programs elicit opposite adjustments in motor unit discharge rates but similar changes in muscle fiber conduction velocity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1455-66
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • Action Potentials
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction
  • Male
  • Motor Neurons
  • Muscle Fatigue
  • Muscle Strength
  • Neural Conduction
  • Physical Endurance
  • Quadriceps Muscle
  • Resistance Training
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult
  • Comparative Study
  • Journal Article
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


Dive into the research topics of 'Motor unit behavior during submaximal contractions following six weeks of either endurance or strength training'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this