SPECIFICITY OF WEIGHT TRAINING
Rutherford, O. M., Greig, C. A., Sargeant, A. J., & Jones, D. A. (1986). Strength training and power output: Transference effects in the human quadriceps muscle. Journal of Sports Sciences, 4, 101-107.
"The effect of the training programmes was to produce a large increase in the ability to perform leg extension exercises (160-200%). As the majority of subjects did not take part in regular physical exercise prior to the study, the initial load lifted in training was low. The increase in this load after 12 weeks of training was not accounted for by an increase in isometric strength of the quadriceps (3-20%) and it has been argued that this is most likely due to improved coordination of recruitment of fixator muscles which stabilize the body and allow maximum force to be exerted. If the improvement in performance is due to the establishment of neural pathways it is questionable whether these pathways will be of any use in tasks requiring different patterns of muscular coordination [they will not]. Our measurements of power output substantiate this view. The very considerable improvement in ability to perform leg extension exercises was not reflected in an improvement in power output measured on the cycle ergometer. This task-specificity with training has been described before . . . " (p. 106)
The Ss in this investigation were non-athletes so some transfer might have been expected, certainly more than that which would have been hypothesized for highly-trained athletes.
Implication. An increase in strength in a particular quadriceps exercise did not affect power output in cycling, an activity that used those same muscles both before and after they were strengthened. Neural reorganization is specific and such movement patterns do not transfer to other activities even those which use the same muscles (but in a different manner).
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