Adaptations in rat skeletal muscle following long-term resistance exercise training.

Research paper by N D ND Duncan, D A DA Williams, G S GS Lynch

Indexed on: 30 Apr '98Published on: 30 Apr '98Published in: European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology


The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether long-term, heavy resistance training would cause adaptations in rat skeletal muscle structure and function. Ten male Wistar rats (3 weeks old) were trained to climb a 40-cm vertical ladder (4 days/week) while carrying progressively heavier loads secured to their tails. After 26 weeks of training the rats were capable of lifting up to 800 g or 140% of their individual body mass for four sets of 12-15 repetitions per session. No difference in body mass was observed between the trained rats and age-matched sedentary control rats. Absolute and relative heart mass were greater in trained rats than control rats. When expressed relative to body mass, the mass of the extensor digitorum longus (EDL) and soleus muscles was greater in trained rats than control rats. No difference in absolute muscle mass or maximum force-producing capacity was evident in either the EDL or soleus muscles after training, although both muscles exhibited an increased resistance to fatigue. Individual fibre hypertrophy was evident in all four skeletal muscles investigated, i.e. EDL, soleus, plantaris and rectus femoris muscles of trained rats, but muscle fibre type proportions within each of the muscles tested remained unchanged. Despite an increased ability of the rats to lift progressively heavier loads, this heavy resistance training model did not induce gross muscle hypertrophy nor did it increase the force-producing capacity of the EDL or soleus muscles.