Hakkinen, K. (1992). Neuromuscular responses in male and female athletes to two successive strength training sessions in one day. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 32, 234-242.

Male (N = 9) and female (N = 10) strength athletes were subjected to morning and afternoon exhaustive strength sessions in the same day.

In the first session significant decreases in maximal isometric strength and only slight changes in maximal neural activation occurred in both gender groups. In the second session, males decreased strength to a greater degree than in the first session, although they started with the same level of strength, and displayed a worsening force-time curve. In contrast, females only recorded a slight decrease in maximal strength.

It was concluded that when strength-training loads are high or maximum, acute fatiguing responses in the neuromuscular system may be greater in males than females. The decrease in the maximal contractile characteristics of the exercised muscles may also be accompanied by an acute decrease in the maximal voluntary neural activation of the muscles indicating that fatigue under these kinds of exercise conditions may also take place in the nervous system.

Implication. Heavy strength training sessions fatigue the neural system and require more than six hours for recovery. Men are affected to a greater degree than women.

If a sport-specific training session occurs after a strength training session, the benefits gained from the sport-specific experience would be questionable and at most minimal. The neural fatigue that is transferred into the sport-specific practice would interfere with movement patterns and sport-specific action amplitudes. Strength training, if it must be done, should occur after, not before, specific-sport training.

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