ECCENTRIC STRENGTH EXERCISES ARE PERFORMED DIFFERENTLY BY WOMEN WHEN COMPARED TO MEN

Hubal, M. J., Clarkson, P. M., & Rubinstein, S. (2003). Gender differences in central activation during maximal eccentric exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 35(5), Supplement abstract 562.

"Women showed greater strength loss immediately after and 34 hours after a bout of maximal eccentric contractions than men" (p. S101). This investigation evaluated whether neural activation during maximal eccentric contractions was gender specific. Subjects (M = 10; F = 14) performed voluntary maximal static force and electrically stimulated force exercises. The central activation ratio was calculated from measurements on a specially designed device. After two days of baseline testing, Ss performed 50 maximal eccentric contractions of the non-dominant elbow flexors at 60/s on an isokinetic dynamometer. During exercise, eccentric strength was measured. All baseline tests were repeated after exercise.

The central activation ratio was significantly higher in women than men before exercise but similar after exercise [suggesting different activation patterns for each gender]. The pattern of strength loss during exercise was also different between the genders. Isometric maximal voluntary contraction loss post-exercise was ~10% (a nonsignficant value) higher for women.

Implication. Men and women activate muscle differently during maximal eccentric exercise, displaying different activation patterns and greater loss of strength.

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