Acute and early chronic responses to resistance exercise using flywheel or weights

Resistance exercise using weights typically offers constant external load during coupled shortening (concentric) and lengthening (eccentric) muscle actions in sets of consecutive repetitions until failure. However, the constant external load and the inherent capability of skeletal muscle to produce greater force in the eccentric compared with the concentric action, would infer that most actions are executed with incomplete motor unit involvement. In contrast, use of the inertia of flywheels to generate resistance allows for maximal voluntary force to be produced throughout the concentric action, and for brief episodes of greater eccentric than concentric loading, i.e. “eccentric overload”. Thus, it was hypothesized that acute flywheel resistance exercise would induce greater motor unit and muscle use, and subsequent fatigue, compared with traditional weight stack/free weight resistance exercise. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that flywheel training would induce more robust neuromuscular adaptations compared with training using weights.