Arnos, P. M., Mylona, E., Anning, J. H., Armstrong, C., & Andres, F. F. (1999). Muscle activation patterns during total-body steady-state exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 31(5), Supplement abstract 870.

Newly designed ergometers, which combine upper and lower-extremity activities, have increased the complexity of and potential for varied movement patterns in exercise. This study investigated the concentric activation patterns of arm, shoulder, and leg muscles during steady-state exercise on a recumbent stepper. Healthy college students (M = 8, F = 4) exercised at 46% VO2peak until the equivalent of 300 kcal had been expended.

A significant decrease in force exerted by the upper body, and in particular the brachioradialis, triceps, and posterior deltoid muscles, was exhibited. The patterns of decrease shifted throughout the exercise.

When exercising in steady-state whole-body activities, the degree of muscle activation shifts among various muscles to maintain the consistency. Thus, there is no single pattern of movement elicited in such activities, but rather, a family of movement patterns that are "changed/cycled" to maintain the performance level. The changing of movement patterns is likely to be a method of stalling fatigue and allowing in-exercise recovery of particular muscles.

Implication. In whole-body steady-state exercise, a variety of movement patterns are used, probably to stall fatigue and allow in-exercise recovery.

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