Resistance exercise prevents plantar flexor deconditioning during bed rest

Academic Article


  • Because resistance exercise (REX) and unloading induce opposing neuromuscular adaptations, we tested the efficacy of REX against the effects of 14 d of bed rest unloading (BRU) on the plantar flexor muscle group. Sixteen men were randomly assigned to no exercise (NOE, N = 8) or REX (N = 8). REX performed 5 sets x 6-10 repetitions to failure of constant resistance concentric/eccentric plantar flexion every other day during BRU. One repetition maximum (1RM) strength was tested on the training device. The angle-specific torque-velocity relationship across 5 velocities (0, 0.52, 1.05, 1.75, and 2.97 rad·s-1) and the full range-of-motion power velocity relationship were assessed on a dynamometer. Torque-position analyses identified strength changes at shortened, neutral, and stretched muscle lengths. Concentric and eccentric contractile work were measured across ten repetitions at 1.05 rad·s-1. Maximal neural activation was measured by surface electromyography (EMG). 1RM decreased 9% in NOE and improved 11% in REX (P < 0.05). Concentric (0.52 and 1.05 rad·s-1), eccentric (0.52 and 2.97 rad·s-1), and isometric angle-specific torques decreased (P < 0.05) in NOE, averaging 18%, 17%, and 13%, respectively. Power dropped (P < 0.05) in NOE at three eccentric (21%) and two concentric (14%) velocities. REX protected angle-specific torque and average power at all velocities. Concentric and eccentric strength decreased at stretched (16%) and neutral (17%) muscle lengths (P < 0.05) in NOE while REX maintained or improved strength at all joint positions. Concentric (15%) and eccentric (11%) contractile work fell in NOE (P < 0.05) but not in REX. Maximal plantar flexor EMG did not change in either group. In summary, constant resistance concentric/eccentric REX completely prevented plantar flexor performance deconditioning induced by BRU. The reported benefits of REX should prove useful in prescribing exercise for astronauts in microgravity and for patients susceptible to functional decline during bed- or chair-bound hospital stays.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Bamman MM; Hunter GR; Stevens BR; Guilliams ME; Greenisen MC
  • Start Page

  • 1462
  • End Page

  • 1468
  • Volume

  • 29
  • Issue

  • 11