Lauver, J. D., Cayot, T. E., & Scheuermann, B. W. (2014). The influence of suspension training on neuromuscular recruitment patterns. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 46(5), Supplement abstract number 2478.

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This study compared the neuromuscular recruitment patterns between body-weight suspension exercise and traditional resistance exercise. Healthy males (N = 9, ~21.8 years), with at least 12 months of resistance training experience participated in three separate sessions. During Session 1, Ss completed a one-repetition maximum (1 RM). During the following visits, Ss completed one set of elbow flexion curls to voluntary fatigue, at a resistance equivalent to 70% 1 RM, utilizing body-weight suspension exercise and traditional exercise. Electromyography (calculated RMS) recorded muscle recruitment of the biceps brachii, lateral triceps, anterior deltoid, posterior deltoid, rectus abdominis, and erector spinae muscle groups. Calculated RMS was expressed relative to the maximal voluntary isometric contraction for each muscle group. Maximal voluntary force was recorded after every third repetition during exercise and the slope reported as the fatigue index; maximum voluntary force was also recorded during recovery.

Traditional exercise resulted in greater muscle recruitment compared to body-weight suspension exercise for the biceps brachii, lateral triceps, and the anterior deltoid. During the eccentric phase, neuromuscular recruitment of the biceps brachii was greater for traditional exercise. There were no differences during the concentric or eccentric phase in recruitment of the other muscles between the two training forms. Force during body-weight suspension exercise varied throughout the range of motion. There was no difference in range of motion at the elbow between the two forms of exercise. There was a difference in the maximal voluntary force fatigue index with traditional exercise resulting in a faster rate of fatigue than body-weight suspension exercise, however body-weight suspension exercise resulted in faster recovery than traditional exercise.

Implication. A traditional bicep-curl elicits a higher neuromuscular recruitment of the primary muscle compared to an equally resisted body-weight suspension elbow-flexion curl. The significant reduction of force throughout the range of motion found in body-weight suspension exercise could be a possible explanation for the lower muscle recruitment observed.

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