Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Health Promotion


Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management

First Advisor

Jeremy P. Loenneke

Second Advisor

John C. Garner

Third Advisor

Paul D. Loprinzi

Relational Format



Muscle growth is postulated to occur through mechanisms initiated by local muscle tension. This appears to be true, independent of the external load, provided sufficient tension is achieved. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to remove the influence of an external load and compare the acute and chronic muscle adaptations of “No Load” training to traditional High Load training. METHODS: Thirteen participants completed six weeks of thrice weekly unilateral elbow flexion exercise. Using a within subject design, each arm was designated to either the No Load or the High Load (70% one repetition maximum) condition. The No Load condition had the participants repeatedly contract through the full range of motion without the use of body weight or an external load. Muscle size, strength and endurance were measured pre and post training. Acute muscle responses of muscle swelling, fatigue and activation were measured within the training study. RESULTS: Anterior muscle thickness increased pre to post training with no differences between conditions 50% [pre: 2.7 (0.8) vs. post: 2.9 (0.7) cm], 60% [pre: 2.9 (0.7) vs. post: 3.1 (0.7) cm] or 70% [pre: 3.2 (0.7) vs. post: 3.5 (0.7) cm] sites. There was a significant condition x time interaction for one repetition maximum (p=0.017), with High Load (+2.3 kg) increasing more than the No Load condition (+1 kg). For the acute responses, there was a main effect of time for muscle fatigue [pre 40.8 (13.2) vs. post 36 (9.1) Nm p=0.037] and muscle swelling [pre 3.5 (0.6) vs. post 3.8 (0.6) cm, p<0.001]. For the biceps brachii EMG amplitude, the High load condition was greater than the No Load condition for the last three repetitions (p=0.019). Regarding the triceps brachii EMG amplitude, the No Load condition was significantly greater than the High Load condition for the first three and the last three repetitions (p?0.001). Conclusion: Based on these results, muscle growth can occur independent of the external load provided that sufficient local tension is applied to the muscle.



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