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Arm-cycling sprints induce neuromuscular fatigue of the elbow flexors and alter corticospinal excitability of the biceps brachii

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We examined the effects of arm-cycling sprints on maximal voluntary elbow flexion and corticospinal excitability of the biceps brachii. Recreationally trained athletes performed ten 10-s arm-cycling sprints interspersed with 150 s of rest in 2 separate experiments. In experiment A (n = 12), maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) force of the elbow flexors was measured at pre-sprint 1, post-sprint 5, and post-sprint 10. Participants received electrical motor point stimulation during and following the elbow flexor MVCs to estimate voluntary activation (VA). In experiment B (n = 7 participants from experiment A), supraspinal and spinal excitability of the biceps brachii were measured via transcranial magnetic and transmastoid electrical stimulation that produced motor evoked potentials (MEPs) and cervicomedullary motor evoked potentials (CMEPs), respectively, during a 5% isometric MVC at pre-sprint 1, post-sprint 1, post-sprint 5, and post-sprint 10. In experiment A, mean power output, MVC force, potentiated twitch force, and VA decreased 13.1% (p < 0.001), 8.7% (p = 0.036), 27.6% (p = 0.003), and 5.6% (p = 0.037), respectively, from pre-sprint 1 to post-sprint 10. In experiment B, (i) MEPs decreased 42.1% (p = 0.002) from pre-sprint 1 to post-sprint 5 and increased 40.1% (p = 0.038) from post-sprint 5 to post-sprint 10 and (ii) CMEPs increased 28.5% (p = 0.045) from post-sprint 1 to post-sprint 10. Overall, arm-cycling sprints caused neuromuscular fatigue of the elbow flexors, which corresponded with decreased supraspinal and increased spinal excitability of the biceps brachii. The different post-sprint effects on supraspinal and spinal excitability may illustrate an inhibitory effect on supraspinal drive that reduces motor output and, therefore, decreases arm-cycling sprint performance.
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Keywords: activation volontaire; cortical; motoneurone spinal; spinal motoneuron; stimulation magnétique transcrânienne; stimulation électrique transmastoïdienne; transcranial magnetic stimulation; transmastoid electrical stimulation; voluntary activation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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