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Muscle Activation During Gravity-Independent Resistance Exercise Compared to Common Exercises

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INTRODUCTION: The aim was to study quadriceps muscle activation during resistance exercise using a flywheel device, developed as a gravity-independent resistance exercise device to be used during spaceflight, compared with traditional strength training exercises.

METHODS: Eight healthy men experienced in resistance exercise performed the following exercises in random order: flywheel leg press (FW), knee extension isokinetic dynamometry (ID), barbell front squat (FS), weight stack leg press (LP), and weight stack knee extension (KE). They accomplished eight repetitions of coupled concentric and eccentric actions with simultaneous recordings of surface electromyography (EMG) from the three superficial quadriceps muscles and knee angles using electrogoniometry. Maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) in knee extension was performed before and after these measurements.

RESULTS: EMG averaged across muscles and angles and normalized to MVC was 99/76% in FW, 48/41% FS, 65/47% LP, 81/52% KE, and 93/84% ID in concentric/eccentric phases, respectively. FW and ID showed higher mean EMG activity than LP and FS concentrically and higher than all other exercises eccentrically. No difference in activity between FW and ID was found. Pre- and post-MVC torque was comparable.

DISCUSSION: Quadriceps muscle activation was superior in FW and ID exercises compared to the other exercises. The difference was most pronounced in the eccentric phase, but even concentric activation was lower in traditional closed chain exercises. This data supports that FW is an effective training tool and should be considered when designing strength training programs for spaceflights and on Earth.

Alkner BA, Bring DK-I. Muscle activation during gravity-independent resistance exercise compared to common exercises. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2019; 90(6):506–512.
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Keywords: closed kinetic chain; countermeasure; electromyography; open kinetic chain; spaceflight

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

    To access volumes 74 through 85, please click here.
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