The influence of training and athletic performance on the neural and mechanical determinants of muscular rate of force development
thesisposted on 24.06.2011, 09:02 by Neale A. Tillin
Neuromuscular explosive strength (defined as rate of force development; RFD) is considered important during explosive functional human movements; however this association has been poorly documented. It is also unclear how different variants of strength training may influence RFD and its neuromuscular determinants. Furthermore, RFD has typically been measured in isometric situations, but how it is influenced by the types of contraction (isometric, concentric, eccentric) is unknown. This thesis compared neuromuscular function in explosive power athletes (athletes) and untrained controls, and assessed the relationship between RFD in isometric squats with sprint and jump performance. The athletes achieved a greater RFD normalised to maximum strength (+74%) during the initial phase of explosive contractions, due to greater agonist activation (+71%) in this time. Furthermore, there were strong correlations (r2 = 0.39) between normalised RFD in the initial phase of explosive squats and sprint performance, and between later phase absolute explosive force and jump height (r2 = 0.37), confirming an association between explosive athletic performance and RFD. This thesis also assessed the differential effects of short-term (4 weeks) training for maximum vs. explosive strength, and whilst the former increased maximum strength (+20%) it had no effect on RFD. In contrast explosive strength training improved explosive force production over short (first 50 ms; +70%) and long (>50 ms; +15%) time periods, due to improved agonist activation (+65%) and maximum strength (+11%), respectively. Explosive strength training therefore appears to have greater functional benefits than maximum strength training. Finally, the influence of contraction type on RFD was assessed, and the results provided unique evidence that explosive concentric contractions are 60% more effective at utilising the available force capacity of the muscle, that was explained by superior agonist activation. This work provides a comprehensive analysis of the association between athletic performance and RFD, the differential effects of maximum vs. explosive strength training, and the influence of contraction type on the capacity for RFD.
- Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences