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DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000003295

Neuromuscular and Metabolic Responses during Repeated Bouts of Loaded Downhill Walking

Emeric Chalchat (IRBAAME2P)Julien Siracusa ...+5 Sebastian Garcia-Vicencio
Sep 2023
The aim of this study was to compare vastus lateralis (VL) and rectus femoris (RF) muscles for their nervous and mechanical adaptations during two bouts of downhill walking (DW) with load carriage performed two weeks apart. Moreover, we investigated cardio-metabolic and perceived exertion responses during both DW bouts. Methods Seventeen participants performed two 45-min sessions of loaded DW (30% of body mass; slope: -25 %; speed: 4.5 km$\times$h -1 ) separated by two weeks. Rating of perceived exertion (RPE), cost of walking (C w ), heart rate (HR), and EMG activity of thigh muscles were assessed during the DW. Muscle shear elastic modulus ($\mu$) of RF and VL were assessed before each exercise bout. Maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) torque was assessed before (PRE), immediately after (POST), 24 and 48 h after the two exercise bouts. Results MVC torque decreased from POST (-23.7 $\pm$ 9.2%) to 48 h (-19.2 $\pm$ 11.9%) after the first exercise (Ex1), whereas it was significantly reduced only at POST (-14.6 $\pm$ 11.0%) after the second exercise (Ex2) (p < 0.001). RPE (Ex1: 12.3 $\pm$ 1.9; Ex2: 10.8 $\pm$ 2.0), HR (Ex1: 156 $\pm$ 23 bpm; Ex2: 145 $\pm$ 25 bpm), C w (Ex1: 4.5 $\pm$ 0.9 J$\times$m -1 $\times$kg -1 ; Ex2: 4.1 $\pm$ 0.7 J$\times$m -1 $\times$kg -1 ) and RF EMG activity (Ex1: 0.071 $\pm$ 0.028 mV; Ex2: 0.041 $\pm$ 0.014 mV) were significantly decreased during Ex2 compared to Ex1 (p < 0.01). RF $\mu$ was significantly greater in Ex2 (0.44 $\pm$ 0.18) compared to Ex1 (0.56 $\pm$ 0.27; p < 0.001). Conclusions The RF muscle displayed specific mechanical and nervous adaptations to repeated DW bouts as compared to VL. Moreover, the muscle adaptations conferred by the first bout of DW could have induced greater exercise efficiency, inducing lesser perceived exertion and cardio-metabolic demand when the same exercise was repeated two weeks later.
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