Public Library of Science
Previous investigations that have studied motor unit firing rates following strength training have been limited to small muscles, isometric training, or interventions involving exercise machines. We examined the effects of ten weeks of supervised barbell deadlift training on motor unit firing rates for the vastus lateralis and rectus femoris during a 50% maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) assessment. Twentyfour previously untrained men (mean age 524 years) were randomly assigned to training (n515) or control (n59) groups. Before and following the intervention, the subjects performed isometric testing of the right knee extensors while bipolar surface electromyographic signals were detected from the two muscles. The signals were decomposed into their constituent motor unit action potential trains, and motor units that demonstrated accuracy levels less than 92.0% were not considered for analysis. One thousand eight hundred ninety-two and 2,013 motor units were examined for the vastus lateralis and rectus femoris, respectively. Regression analyses were used to determine the linear slope coefficients (pulses per second [pps]/% MVC) and y-intercepts (pps) of the mean firing rate and firing rate at recruitment versus recruitment threshold relationships. Deadlift training significantly improved knee extensor MVC force (Cohen’s d5.70), but did not influence force steadiness. Training had no influence on the slopes and y-intercepts for the mean firing rate and firing rate at recruitment versus recruitment threshold relationships. In agreement with previous cross-sectional comparisons and randomized control trials, our findings do not support the notion that strength training affects the submaximal control of motor units.
Stock, M.S., and Thompson, B.J. (2014). Effects of barbell deadlift training on submaximal motor unit firing rates for the vastus lateralis and rectus femoris. PLoS ONE, 9(12): e115567.