Eur J Appl Physiol. 2016 Sep 16;
PURPOSE: Force production frequently remains depressed for several hours or even days after various types of strenuous physical exercise. We hypothesized that the pattern of force changes during the first hour after exercise can be used to reveal muscular mechanisms likely to underlie the decline in muscle performance during exercise as well as factors involved in the triggering the prolonged force depression after exercise.
METHODS: Nine groups of recreationally active male volunteers performed one of the following types of exercise: single prolonged or repeated short maximum voluntary contractions (MVCs); single or repeated all-out cycling bouts; repeated drop jumps. The isometric force of the right quadriceps muscle was measured during stimulation with brief 20 and 100 Hz trains of electrical pulses given before and at regular intervals for 60 min after exercise.
RESULTS: All exercises resulted in a prolonged force depression, which was more marked at 20 Hz than at 100 Hz. Short-lasting (≤2 min) MVC and all-out cycling exercises showed an initial force recovery (peak after ~ 5 min) followed by a secondary force depression. The repeated drop jumps, which involve eccentric contractions, resulted in a stable force depression with the 20 Hz force being markedly more decreased after 100 than 10 jumps.
CONCLUSIONS: In accordance with our hypothesis, the results propose at least three different mechanisms that influence force production after exercise: (1) a transiently recovering process followed by (2) a prolonged force depression after metabolically demanding exercise, and (3) a stable force depression after mechanically demanding contractions.